Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 23,993/Shed – Am I homophonic?

Posted by loonapick on February 6th, 2007


If I was asked what type of clues I’d like to see outlawed, it would definitely be homophones. There is an outrageous (in my opinion at least) example of this at 8dn, unless I have the wrong answer, in which case, please ignore this comment.  (It would appear that I am in the minority where this is concerned – up here in bonnie Scotland, we pronounce the letter R almost every time that it appears in a word, therefore BAWD and BORED never the sound the same, as BAWD is pronounced with a short O sound and BORED with a long O and the letter R). 

This was a much tougher puzzle than the last Shed effort that I blogged, and it was excellent, apart from that homophone and 19dn. Read on…


9 OVERTHROW – double def. seen a lot recently, and yet I still took a while to get it?

10 OMEGA – I may be being picky here, but Omega 3 (as opposed to simply Omega) oil has been much hyped recently…?

11 STEER – double def. Neat meaning ox, cow, bull etc comes up regularly in Crosswordland

12 LONG-FACED – (goden calf)* – nice anagram

13 SAUSAGE – A in SUSAGE (<= (P)egasus)

22 PALAVER – PA + LAVER – I didn’t know that a LAVER was a basin used by ancient priests to perform ablutions, but I do now.

24 LAWNMOWER – L(AWN-M)OWER – surface doesn’t make any sense – what kind of gardening equipment could take a man in?

28 STOOL – although I liked this clue, I wonder whether some of the words or wordplay in the Guardian these days would be allowed by some editors.



1 MOSS – refers to Kate Moss

2 TELEDU – hidden in rUDE LETters returned – a teledu is an Asian animal famous for its malodorous stench.


5 SWAN SONG – I was just about to write that I don’t know how the clue works when it came to me – SWANSON-G! SWANSON is Gloria Swanson and G is Gaynor’s first – very good!

7 PENCHANT – PEN = female swan and CHANT = song.

8 BAWD – right, I hope that that is the wrong answer, because I just don’t see how BAWD and BORED can sound the same to anyone, especially to me as a Scot, who pronounces his Rs. And even if there are a minority for whom these two words are homophones, it is still weak. (edited – see comments below, and sorry if I offended anyone south of the Border)

15 TUMBLEDOWN – T((<=mu)BLED)OWN – something else I learned from this puzzle – Bled is a town and lake in Slovenia.

16 DETER – DETER(gent)

18 SCREWTOP – S(CREW)TOP – clever clue.

19 FAREWELL – FA(<=ewer)LL – doesn’t work because “to bowl” implies a verb and “ewer” is a noun

27 TOSS – as in “he couldn’t give a toss”.

7 Responses to “Guardian 23,993/Shed – Am I homophonic?”

  1. says:

    Re 10a – I think it is fair to say omega 3 has been ‘hyped’ up recently, certainly compared to the past. I’ve read a number of articles on it in various sources over this last year, the one sticking in my mind being this one:

    Re 8d – I must be in the minority who hear and pronounce ‘bawd’ as ‘bored’ and had no quibble with this homophone.

  2. says:

    I thought this was excellent, some clues I really enjoyed, including STOOL and TOSS. I also thought the SWANSONG/PENCHANT link was beautiful, though I’d have no idea a pen was a swan were it not for past crosswords. As far as 8 down is concerned, I do pronounce them the same, as do a lot of English people. Homophones are always a very dodgy area for this reason – but to be fair, the clue does acknowledge this by phrasing it ‘so some say’ – i.e. it sounds the same for some people, but not all. A thematic crossword with all Scottish homophones, anyone?

  3. says:

    For 8D, I refer you to this Wikipedia article, which should help to convince you that you must have heard non-rhotic “bored” on the TV or radio.

    When you’re used to how words sound to you, it can be extremely difficult to notice that others say them differently. Elsewhere, I’ve been assured that for many Americans, Sirius and serious sound exactly the same – which gives me as much mental grief as this clue gave you.

  4. says:

    I think the OMEGA pickiness has to do with the missing 3 qualifier. I agree — certinaly most google references are to OMEGA-3 though there are some to Omega Oil per se.

    As for BAWD… all I can to say to Shed is you cannot be Sirius!

    Great puzzle though — and I see that Audreus and Shed seem to be an item, appearing on consecutive days. I loved the SWANSONG/LASTWORDS/FAREWELL theme… but is he trying to tell us something?

  5. says:

    Thanks ilan

    My comments on OMEGA were to do with the missing 3 qualifier.

    And BAWD, I obviously underestimated the number of people who don’t like rolling their “Rs” as the old joke goes. Thanks for the link Peter, and michod, there are many less Scottish homophones because we do pronounce our Rs. I will nevertheless edit the article to reflect the body of the kirk, (spelt and pronounced with an “R”)!

  6. says:

    “less Scottish homophones”: Am I remembering wrongly that the joke in the ad campaign with the catchphrase “Moose loose about the hoose” was Scottish-accent homophonic confusion between a small rodent and a large ungulate? I have a totally untested pet theory that the accents that make some RP/Estuary homophone pairs sound different make up for it elsewhere by making some RP/ESTUARY “heterophone” pairs sound the same.

  7. says:

    I put in SHEER for 11 across, because (perhaps as a relative newcomer) I’d never heard of neat = cow/bull/etc. and I thought that “sheer wine” = “pure wine” = “neat wine”, while to sheer is to swerve, which sounds like to manoeuvre to me. Would you (anyone) agree that it’s ambiguous or am I just obviously wrong? :)

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