Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,563/Araucaria

Posted by Andrew on December 4th, 2008


I’d been thinking we hadn’t seen much of Araucaria lately, especially during the week, so it was a pleasure to find this one on a cold and miserable December morning. A mixture of easy, even rather banal, clues to get me started, with some much harder ones involving some tricky wordplay, and a few very Araucarian moments.

dd = double definition
* = anagram
< = reverse

5. LIGHT UP dd
10. OVULE “Of Yule”
12. FULL ORGAN LL + OR + AG< in FUN. L for “plate” (as in L-plate) is a regular Araucaria trick: I’m not sure I approve.
15. CASTE Hidden – easy when you see it but it took me a while to spot.
18. TOWN CRIER OWN C in TRIER. Cleverly, the unobtrusive “have” turns out to be a vital part of the wordplay.
21. INKER Very Araucarian: “man of battle” in meant to tell you that if you add “man” to INKER you get Inkerman, which was a battle of the Crimean War.
22. CURRICULUM VITAE CURR(y) + CUMULATIVE* . Another sneaky one: “resume with accents” is “résumé”, which is a (mostly American) name for a CV.
23. ABSENCE ABSE (the politician Leo Abse) + (o)NCE. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” – not exactly “aphrodisiac”, surely?
24. DOLPHIN Dolphins sometimes “flip toys”, and are members of the Cetacea – I don’t know what “said” is doing here. Maybe also a reference to the TV series “Flipper”.
2. FAMOUS LAST WORDS MOUS(e) in FA-LAS + TWO R(oa)DS. Goethe’s last words were “more light!”.
3. RANGE POLE ANGER* + POLE – a Range Pole is the striped pole you see surveyors holding on building sites and at the roadside.
4. NOISE I (setter) in NOSE
5. LAST TANGO LAST (=endure) TAN GO. A reference to the film Last Tango in Paris, which caused some controversy when released in 1973.
6. GRIMM “Grim”
13. GRATITUDE TITU(s) in GRADE. Titus wasn’t an “arch-emperor”, but he does have an arch named after him in Rome.
14. RETRIEVAL E V(ersus) in RETRIAL. As might be performed by a retriever..
15. CETACEA Aka the Cetaceans, which include whales, but also the less “monstrous” dolphins and porpoises.
17. CIRCEAN (CANCER I). Among other activities, the Greek goddess Circe lured Oddysseus’s crew and turned them into pigs. Chambers gives “infatuating and degrading” as the metaphorical meaning.
19. COIGN “Coin”, A “coign of vantage” is an advantageous position.
20. ROUND dd – as in buying a round, or a type of song (“London’s Burning”, for example).

38 Responses to “Guardian 24,563/Araucaria”

  1. beermagnet says:

    25A DOLPHIN is a homophone “Doll” “Fin”: Toy Fliiper

  2. beermagnet says:

    That’s 24A of course.
    I noted the coincidence that the facing page has a Review of Hansel and Gretel and a headline starting with “Grimm” in 48pt type.

  3. Andrew says:

    Thanks Beermagnet, that makes much more sense.

  4. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, Andrew, particularly the explanations of “More light” and ABSENCE.

    INKER(man) and COIGN were both very difficult, I thought.

  5. Jake says:

    The first Araucaria I’ve ever finished! It actually felt great to complete one of his puzzles as I usually struggle alot with him.

    I’m quite glad it was a mixed bag of easy and hard – which gave me a toe hold to start.

    I still am unsure about a couple of answers.
    15 ac baffled me, but thanks for explaining guys.

  6. Ian Hinds says:

    A puzzle of two halves.

    The top half extremely straightforward (for Araucaria).

    The bottom half took me over 45 minutes. Especially tricky were Inker, Absence.

  7. Jake says:

    12ac baffled me – Not 15 -which was hidden.

    I managed to fill 25ac ‘dolphin’ in before 15dn remembering flipper the dolphin from my childhood, and guessed the answer!

    Does Araucaria usually use the hidden clue method in most of his crosswords? I don’t believe I’ve come across one from him. And I’m not a seasoned solver.

  8. Rob says:

    The explanation of 22ac is slightly misleading. It’s actually CURRI(es) then the anag of cumulative, otherewise the second ‘I’ is missing

  9. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the correction Rob – I saw the gist of the wordplay but obviously didn’t check it carefully enough.

    Jake, congratulations on your success: it does get (a little) easier if you stick at it. I don’t have any statistics about how often Araucaria uses hidden clues, but I’d be surprised if he was vastly different from other setters.

  10. John says:

    What equates CHAMPION’S to APOSTOLIC? One’s a noun, the other an adjective.

  11. John says:

    And what on earth is a “fala”?

  12. Jake says:


    Thank you for my success! I kinda guess Araucaria is probably top setter, I’ve tried to avoid him if I see him setting the Guardian. But no longer. I’m getting the hang of him and rather enjoyed today. So much so, I’m going down the local to celebrate. And brag.

    Have a good day Sir.


  13. Eileen says:

    John: try telling a Northerner that ‘champion’ is not an adjective…

    Chambers – I now have one! – has
    a) Champion: adj.’acting or ranking as champion’
    b) Fa-la: an old kind of madrigal

  14. Eileen says:

    Congratulations, Jake. You’re getting to see why Araucaria is so many people’s favourite.

    Andrew, he’s been doing the L plate thing for so long it’s now standard, surely? I’ve always rather liked it.

    Today I loved the Arch-emperor Titus and the reminder of the colourful Leo Abse, and of my O Level study of Macbeth, which is the only place I have ever seen ‘coign of vantage’.

  15. Will says:

    Well I sure didn’t get COIGN. I found the rest relatively easy for Araucaria, though I looked up Inker in Collins which led me straight to Inkerman.

    As to Champion’s, I guess it means (in dictionary speak) ‘of or pertaining to a champion’.

  16. Dave Ellison says:

    Well, I finished with a little help from on line dictionaries.

    I was convinced 1d was SAWN OFF, but couldn’t see what SANOFF had to do with GOT RID OF, until I saw the correct point!

  17. Geoff says:

    I agree with Will that ‘Champion’s’ = ‘of a champion’ = APOSTOLIC. The clue shouldn’t be parsed as ‘Champion is’.. This was one of my favourite clues in the puzzle.

    Welcome to the fold of Araucaria enthusiasts, Jake – have one on all of us!


  18. John says:

    OK, accepting that “champion” in another sense is an adjective, and living in Yorkshire I should know that, I still don’t see how “of a champion” relates to APOSTOLIC. Chambers has:
    1 relating to the apostles in the early Christian Church, or to their teaching.
    2 relating to the Pope, thought of as the successor to the Apostle Peter • the Apostolic”.
    The connection seems very loose to me.

  19. Eileen says:

    John: under APOSTLE, Chambers has ‘a principal champion or supporter of a new system, or of a cause’.

  20. Geoff Moss says:


    Apostle – a principal champion or supporter of a new system, or of a cause; adj apostolic or apostolical (Chambers 11th Ed).

  21. Phaedrus says:

    Lots of fun, this one – easy to begin with, but challenging towards the end. COIGN caused me most problem.

    Here’s a thought, for the lovely people who run Fifteensquared…. as well as letting punters like me leave comments, how about letting them leave a score reflecting how much they enjoyed the crossword (a mark out of ten)? These wouldn’t need displaying on the Fifteensquared site (so wouldnt embarass the setters who got low marks!) – but at the end of the year, there could be Fifteensquare awards. Gold medal for the setter with the highest average score, then silver, then bronze (and then probably stop there, again to spare embarassment). There could even be a Fifteensquared award for the favourite puzzle of the year.

    Thoughts on this? Good idea/bad idea?

  22. JimboNWUK says:

    Re Phaedrus’ survery:
    Not a bad idea but why stop there? Make it a mini-survey classified by “enjoyment”, “difficulty” and “percent completed”?

    For todays, mine would be 85% (having read the answers I have no-one to blame but meself!) 90% (it was rock-hard and worthy of a Saturday prize puzzle) and 20% (pathetic!)

  23. Ralph G says:

    19d coign of vantage: thanks Eileen (at 14 above) for mentioning the Macbeth occurrence. For anybody who doesn’t know it, the beautiful passage about the martlet (armorial bird of Pembroke and West Sussex) is at Act 1 scene vi line 7.
    The OED opines that the phrase owes its popularity to its espousal by Sir Walter Scott. Also used by George Eliot in Romola and by Browning.

  24. Ygor says:

    Late to the party as usual. I have a question about 3 down. The answer given here is “range pole” but I don’t understand how “pole” is derived from the clue. I had “range cone”, which worked for me cryptically (anger*+con=against+e=European), but is an object I have never heard of. I assumed that it belonged to the arcana of surveying, but haven’t googled up a confirmation of that. “Range cone” as an expression occurs on sites having to do with acoustics and ceramics and gunnery, but no surveying references as yet.

    Can anyone help me?

  25. Andrew says:

    Ygor: Pole = Polish person = European. “against” here just indicates that “anger directed” is beside or against POLE.

  26. Will says:

    Yep – you’ve missed the fact that a Pole is from Poland and so he (or she)’s a European.

  27. John says:

    I wonder if Poland will ever be football apostles of Europe.

  28. Ygor says:

    Seems so simple now. Thanks for indulging me.

  29. Eileen says:

    Ralph G: thank you for the extra information. My thirty-year-old Shorter Oxford has only the Macbeth instance. [Presumably it was the Bard who coined the phrase, in a manner of speaking?]However, it is obviously not yet time to discard it, since my new Chambers has merely ‘coign of vantage: an advantageous position’ – no etymology whatsoever!

  30. Ralph G says:

    19d COIGN: Eileen, it’s from CUNEUM (acc) wedge ! (I didn’t know either; Georgics 1, 144 is a lovely line). It came into English from the old French COIN – wedge, corner, or (from its form or action) a die for stamping money (the meanings wedge and die survive in modern French alongside the more familiar corner, in fact ‘die’ opens the batting in Le Petit Robert).
    COIN, COIGN, QUOIN _and other variants_ were at one time alternative spellings of the word in all senses. Nowadays COIN is _generally_ money: wedge, cornerstone is _generally_ QUOIN: and COIGN is retained in the Shakespearian phrase COIGN OF VANTAGE and occasionally used for wedge.
    Incidentally, not sure I understood Andrew’s concise blog. I had read the equally concise clue as: definition ‘money’, giving COIGN (variant spelling of coin in Chambers); and ‘heard to be’ as meaning ‘as used in the phrase’ “coign of vantage”, this subsidiary indication justifying the archaic spelling. Elucidation welcomed.

  31. Andrew says:

    Ralph: sorry, I could have said more there. I read it as “Money heard” = “coin”; there’s no proper definition, but just an indication that COIGN is used with the words “of vantage”. In fact, like quite a few of Araucaria’s clues, it doesn’t really stand up to detailed scrutiny. If anything, it would be sounder if the answer was be COIN, with “coign” as the homophone.

    Back on the etymological front, Wikipedia gives “coign” as an example of a “fossil word”, i.e. one that is only ever used in modern English in a particular phrase. Other examples are “spick (and span)” and “(nook and) cranny”.

  32. Eileen says:

    Ralph: I’ve left this until later, not to burden others with ‘too much information’.

    I did know the derivation [cf cuneiform writing] – and my Shorter Oxford gave it, too, though not the later literary examples that you supplied. I was really making an ironical comment that, after months of confessing my lack of a Chambers and finally obtaining one three days ago, I was disappointed that, in this case, it didn’t come up with the goods!

    I agree with Andrew’s parsing of the clue: ‘heard to be’ indicates a homophone, as he said, and ‘coign’ seems to appear only in the phrase ‘… of vantage’.

  33. Eileen says:

    Andrew: I’m sorry, it was only after posting my comment that I saw yours. Many thanks for the blog!

  34. Ralph G says:

    Andrew, Eileen: thanks for the elucidation. Homophone + allusion makes better sense.
    And thanks for alerting me, Andrew, to the ‘fossil word’ entry in Wikipedia. Interesting list. However, I think COIGN should come out because it has well-attested unfossilised use (see OED, Wiktionary itself) in printing, gunnery and geography. Unfossilised literary use includes James Joyce in Ulysses, Anthony Burgess and (2007) S R Donaldson.

  35. Andrew says:

    I don’t know Donaldson’s work, but I wouldn’t like to cite either Joyce or Burgess as examples of “everyday” English”! Actually I agree that “coign” probably shouldn’t be there, but for the almost opposite reason that “coign of vantage” isn’t a commonly-used phrase – at least not as far as I know (despite having done Macbeth for O-Level). Maybe one of us should be bold and remove it…

  36. KG says:

    If you aren’t familiar with the paintings of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema – usually grand Victorian reconstructions of classical Roman opulence – let me recommend them, and ‘A Coign of Vantage’ in particular. I didn’t spot it at first but something stirred deep in the memory as the great man had used ‘vantage’ rather than advantage.

    I loved the definitions of ‘monstrous order'(15d) and ‘horribly fascinating’ (17d)creating something like a pair of bookends at the bottom. And I was thrown for a while by the use of ‘flipper’ in 24ac. Araucaria seems to know as much trivial rubbish as the rest of us, so was this a deliberate reference to the old kids’ tv programme?

  37. Andrew says:

    In my experience Araucaria seems to know more trivial rubbish than the rest of us, as well as the erudite stuff.

  38. Ralph G says:

    Anyone still there?
    Donald (35 above): I didn’t say “everyday”, just “unfossilised”. S R Donaldson is a prolific SF writer, American.
    Eileen: so that you don’t feel that you’ve been sold short, the Chambers’ derivation from CUNEUS was (not very helpfully) located at the end of COIN. Incidentally, very sharp of you to jump from Coign to Cuneus without the mediation of Coin. Impressive.

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

six − 5 =