Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,415/Brendan: element-ary?

Posted by bridgesong on June 21st, 2008


I hadn’t planned to blog this puzzle, but if nobody else wants to, here’s my contribution. The theme involves eight elements from the perodic table, and in each case the clue starts with the symbol for the element.


7 KILOMETRE – mil(e) + OK*, followed by etre (to be, in French)
8 TOKAY – (banque)t + okay. Tokay is a famous Hungarian wine
9 LIVE WIRES – double definition
10 NIXON – the reference is to the impeachment of Richard Nixon. Presumably the word play is intended to convey nix=nothing + on
12 INDIUM – the first of the themed clues. Mind* around 1 U(niversity). A soft malleable silver-white metallic element
13 INTREPID – I printed*
14 ELEMENT – ele(ctions) + ment (sounds like meant = represented)
17 IN BRIEF – Brie is the place where the cheese was first made; f = fine (on lead pencils)
20 A STAT(IN)E – a radioactive chemical element
22 CUBIST – bis (“repeat” in musical parlance) in cut, which can mean fashion
24 SWIFT – the reference is to Jonathan Swift
25 AMERICIUM – “Eric + I” in “a mum”. A radioactive metallic element first produced in America
26 FRAIL – fail round r (for resistance)
27 ALUMINIUM – alumni round i + um.


1 VISION – this is the only clue I have doubts about. Vision is clearly a sense, but the unusually fair reference escapes me
2 NOBELIUM – NUM round obeli (an obelus is a dagger sign in printing). This radioactive element was first produced at the Nobel Institute
3 HELIUM – Eli (the priest) in hum, which can mean a noise indicating dissent. Not sure it can mean a dissenting statement, though
4 ARSENIC – the word play is clever, with not altogether polite referring both to the first four letters and the last three (nic(e))
5 IODINE – hidden
6 VALORISE – or in valise; it means to fix or stabilise a price – I’m not sure that “acknowledge” is an adequate definition
11 STUN – nuts reversed
15 LAST WORD – Zyrian is the last but one word in the current edition of Chambers

16 NAIL – to pay on the nail is to pay without delay, a reference (I think) to the nails still to be found in Bristol where merchants would meet to settle transactions

18 RUBICUND – hidden, an unusually long word for this type of clue

19 SEA MILE – ea in smile
21 A F FAIR – clever wordplay
22 CH ROME – not an element, but a compound (although it can also mean chromium, which is an element)
23 SHUT UP – double definition

9 Responses to “Guardian 24,415/Brendan: element-ary?”

  1. Barbara says:

    Re: 1 dn. Vision
    The word ‘person’ in the clue led me to think that the answer was Lilian, a common first name.
    I thought it might be a fanciful way of saying lily-white, which is extremely fair (skinned).

  2. Duggie says:

    I think it’s simply ‘a person or scene of great beauty’ (Chambers)

  3. Mick H says:

    Yet another brilliant themed puzzle from Brendan. Had I known my periodic table better, I suppose it might have got easy once I realised what was going on, but the way he incorporated the eight abbreviations as words (I, As, Am, In etc) was beautiful – the clues didn’t stick out at all even though he had to make the element the first word to permit correct capitalisation. Outstanding.

  4. bridgesong says:

    I’ve now had an opportunity to check on the Guardian website, and the answer to 1 down is vision, simply explained as a double definition. I think Duggie has got it right.

    In my haste to publish the blog, I left out 19 down, which I have now inserted.

  5. AMB says:

    Agreed, a lovely piece by Brendan.

  6. Shirley says:

    15D Zyrian IS the last word in the OED!

  7. John Dean says:

    15D Zyrian is NOT the last word in the OED. In the CD version of OED the last word is zyxt. In the online version, the last word is zythum. But Brendan DID say ‘more or less’

  8. Andy Thompson says:

    1 dn Fair vision – ref to Coleridge quotation?

  9. bridgesong says:

    Possibly (I assume you mean Xanadu) but it might also just refer to Tennyson’s poem ” A dream of fair women”

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