Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,643 – Gordius

Posted by Uncle Yap on March 10th, 2009

Uncle Yap.

dd = double definition
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

Thank goodness for crossing letters or I might not have got the convenient theme today….and I watched Slumdog Millionaire yesterday and remembered the scene when Jamal, the young boy was locked in the outhouse and had to go down vertically to escape (Yucks!!!)

8 NO CHANGE Gordius did empathise with hapless drivers faced with metres asking for exact change and a shortage of the right coins.
9 BROGUE dd The lilting Irish accent can also mean a rough shoe of untanned leather formerly worn in parts of Scotland and Ireland.
10 DE-ICER Ins of IC (99 in Roman numeral) in Deer (bucks, male)
11 GOLGOTHA Ins of Goth (barbarian) in *(gaol)
12 DIAL Rev of Laid (set the table for dinner)
13 STAY-AT-HOME Opposite of to go forth (sally)
15 AGROUND A Ground (reason) When the Napoli (presumable a nautical vessel)is stranded on a rock, it must be aground
16 DIABASE Rev of Aid (help) Base (home port)
18 PICNIC AREA *(A nice pair c)
19 TWIN T (first letter of to) Win (prevail)
20 OFT TIMES Cha of O (round) FT (Financial Times, paper) Times (paper)
22 VERITY Ins of IT in Very (light)
23 DEBRIS *(brides)
24 LARBOARD Ins of Boar (pork) in Lard (fat)


1 COVERING HIS FEET I have no idae what the clue means and as luck would have it, my internet connection is crawling so no luck with google nor one-look. 2 THE CALL OF NATURE This term is seldom heard nowadays unless one is on a camping trip.
3 INFRASONIC *(cars if in no)
4 BELGIAN Another answer I cannot explain without help
5 ABEL A Bel (part of Belgian) According to Genesis, Abel was the first murder victim (killed by his brother, Cain)
6 GO TO THE BATHROOM Nope, I disagree. The American like to use Restroom. In Malaysia, we either go to the large stream or the small stream (Sungai besar atau Sungai Kechil). In China, the place is often called “Wash hand room”
7 EUPHEMISTIC TERM Thank goodness for crossing letters or else I might still be lost. When I learned this word in Form Six, my teacher called euphemism “Soft word for hard fact”
14 ANIMADVERB *(vermin data) A new word for me and I wonder when, if ever, am I going to use this
17 TRESTLE *(letters)
21 MUSE Ins of US (Guardian) in Me (setter)

53 Responses to “Guardian 24,643 – Gordius”

  1. manehi says:

    4dn cryptic – Gent’s son -> man from Gent, the Belgian city also spelled Ghent?

  2. Monica M says:

    Hi Uncle Yap,

    I think I can offer some assistance for 1dn… A biblical reference. Saul sought to capture David who was hiding in Engedi. One night while Saul was sleeping, David crept up on him and cut off a piece of the hem of his cloak.

    As for 4dn, I am also baffled.

    Can you please shed some more light (pun intended) on the use of very for light.

    Thanks for the post.

  3. diagacht says:

    Thank you Uncle Yap for your blog.
    I think 1d refers to Saul taking ‘a comfort break’ (euphemistically) in the caves at Engedi. See 1 Sam. 24:3.
    As for 4d is it simply that Gent is a city in Belgium?

  4. David says:

    Monica, a Very Light (I think it’s pronounced ‘veery’) is a signalling device, used to attract attention – think people in lifeboats – a ball of fire is shot into the air.

  5. Monica M says:

    Aah, Thanks David … a form of flare. A new one for me. I’m glad we have epirbs now as I have a brother who’s a mad sailor.

  6. beermagnet says:

    Those of us who started with the paper version found the clues shouting out at us (they were in a larger font) and 15 Across missing. Online I find it is:
    15A A reason for the Napoli needing … (7)

    The Napoli is famous in the UK as the container ship that ran aground in 2007 on the “Jurassic coast” of Dorset sparking a feverish grab for spoils on Branscombe beach

  7. Ian Payn says:

    Ah, there was a clue for 15ac, was there? I did wonder. Obviously the vast typeface suggested something might have gone wrong at the printers.

    I thought Gordius had raised his game, rather, today.

  8. Dawn says:

    I got the left hand side despite guessing several. I have never heard of infrasonic although ultrasonic/ultrasound is commonly used. Got totally stranded on the right hand side though and then ran out of time before work so thanks for the post and explanations.

  9. Shirley says:

    1D Chambers gives the definition of Covering his feet as defecating. Not a very pleasant term to encounter over breakfast!
    Also 14 A Animadverb is a legal term meaning to take note.

  10. Dave Ellison says:

    I thought this was a great Gordius. I managed to get 15a despite there being no clue. I thought at first the answer must be NOTHING, so that side tracked 1d and 2d for a while. Of course, this was last to go in, and 7d the penultimate. For a fleeting moment, I thought, given crap in the clue, and the references in the other long ones, that the t_r_ was something other than term!

  11. Dave Ellison says:

    Isn’t 14d animadvert? There’s no b in the anagram stuff

  12. Andrew says:

    Morning all. Surely it’s ANIMADVERT at 14dn.

    I do try to like Gordius, but I found this one unsatisfactory again: too many vague clues for my liking, especially the crucial 7dn and the other long downs. I also didn’t much care for 8ac and 13ac.

  13. Paul B says:

    Bit like a Private Eye crossword, this one. Set by Karzi.

  14. Eileen says:

    I struggle to like Gordius, too – I just couldn’t make 7dn work!

    Isn’t ‘face setback’ exactly the same as yesterday’s ‘soulmate for Eros’, which caused discussion? [I personally don’t have a problem with his kind of clue.]

  15. Derek Lazenby says:

    I thought I was doing a Rufus when I got the first two across clues with barely a thought. Then it all went 7d on me (LOL)! Still I got there eventually, but thank you software! I still didn’t know completely why for several clues until I got here though.

    Indeed, animadverT.

    And vagueness, yeah I thought so, but then I got them eventually so were they really vague? Hmmm! Dunno.

  16. smutchin says:

    Eileen – yes, “setback” in 12a is the same as “soulmate” yesterday, and both are fine by me though obviously not by strict Ximeneans.

    I’m sure we’ve seen a very similar clue to 12a recently, only it was for a down clue (can’t remember who the setter was, nor can I find it in the archive).

    Dawn – infra (below) and ultra (beyond) are opposite ends of the spectrum, as in infra-red and ultra-violet light, or infra dig and ultra vires, if you like.

  17. Monica M says:

    Derek and Paul B,

    LOL ..neither of you were caught with your pants down.

    On a serious note … is is possible the connection between 15 and 16 ac … for in italian (ie Napoli) can be di (as a preposition) .. the beginning of 16 ac. The Napoli was indeed in need of a base.

  18. smutchin says:

    Found it – it was Boatman 24626, 18 Feb

  19. smutchin says:

    …and of course it wasn’t a down clue and it wasn’t all that similar, it just used the fact that dial is laid-back.

  20. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog. No clue at 15ac meant no answer from me! Looked up the Bible ref and it has Saul going into a cave to ‘cover his feet’. And I thought 4dn might be Belgian, but didn’t go there.

  21. Finbar says: defines Animadvert as “? verb: express blame or censure or make a harshly critical remark”

  22. Jake says:

    I agree with a few others here that Gordius has come back to form since the last several ones I’ve done of his.

    May-be the Spring and warmer weather has helped brighten him? it has me.

  23. Agentzero says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap. Regarding 6dn, I would say that while an American may go to the “restroom” in, say, a restaurant, when at home one invariably goes to the “bathroom.”

    Eileen, I was hoping that 7dn would prove to be an &lit, with “often used to talk” as the fodder and “crap” as the anagrind! But it was not to be, and I thought the crossers made it fairly easy to solve.

  24. Paul (not Paul) says:

    What a pile of 7 down.

    Is it just me who thinks that a clue should be solvable in isolation and not demand 4 or five crossing letters to become guessable? 7 down is impossible without crossing letters. I got very little satisfaction from todays’ crossword.

    Far too much internet research needed today with three words I’ve never heard of plus a definition of Golgotha I didn’t know. Even with internet research, I didn’t find any reference to Saul covering his feet.

  25. Dawn says:

    Thanks Smutchin for explaining infrasonic. Makes sense the way you describe it!

  26. stiofain_x says:

    I agree with Paul (not Paul) and several others – a pile of the proverbial.
    7 down was way too weak a clue to be used as a key and several others were impossible without a lot of the crossing letters.
    My main objection though is the use of “paddy” as a term for an Irishman. This is a term of racist abuse and should never have got past the crossword editor of a liberal newspaper.
    I, and other Irish people find it offensive and to make it worse this is the second time it has been used in the last few months.

  27. John says:

    I’m with Paul (not Paul). Too many loose ones if I may say so.
    Golgoltha’s the “place of the skull”, not “a skull”.

  28. mhl says:

    Smutchin: You might be thinking of Quantum’s “Set down face up” for LAID from January of this year.

    Paul (Not Paul): all the top hits on Google for ‘Saul “covering his feet”‘ relate to that story, and I think it was quite guessable given some crossing letters and the theme.

    I think GOLGOTHA is fair as well, since “the place of the skull” is very memorable from the gospels, and it’s hard to think of how “Aramaic skull” would be used cryptically under any other interpretation of the clue. Incidentally, if “Aramaic” was surprising to anyone, it’s probably because John 19:17 says “The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha” (NRSV) – apparently the word really is Aramaic, though.

    That said, there was a lot of this that I found very tough – ANIMADVERT, DIABASE and BELGIAN in particular.

  29. Eileen says:

    Aside from the scatological theme, with Saul in the cave, quite a biblical day, with Abel and Golgotha [Calvary], ‘the place of the skull’, found in all four gospels.

    [I’d written the above before seeing mhl’s comment, so I’ll add this for interest: I’m not a Hebrew scholar but Chambers gives Golgotha as the Greek version of the Hebrew Gulgoleth, from the Aramaic Gogultho or Gogoltha.]
    [I was interested to see, in SOED, that it’s also University slang: ‘the place of sculls [sic]or heads of colleges and halls, where they meet and debate’.]

    I’d never come across animadvert in English [though I knew it existed] but I knew the Latin derivation, ‘animadvertere’ which means, quite literally, ‘to turn the mind to, or notice’, but, in Latin , too, can also mean ‘to censure or reproach’.

    I’d never heard of diabase, though I did, from crosswords, know larboard.

    I think after all this, my favourite clue was MUSE!

  30. Dave Ellison says:

    I did wonder about Golgotha and skull, but on googling I found “The name derives from the Aramaic golgolta, meaning “skull” or “place of a skull”. (<a href=””)

    I don’t know about the provenance of

  31. steven says:

    Harrrumph.Glad I’m not the only one who struggled. Didn’t get far with this and what little was coming through I found a bit vague.Maybe the large type was unnerving me as well.I agree with Stiofain_x with regards to Paddy.

  32. smutchin says:

    mhl – Yes, that’s definitely the one I was thinking of. Thanks!

  33. JamieC says:

    I’m afraid I’m with Paul and others. I don’t mind obscure words (e.g. animadvert, which was obviously an anagram, so it was just a matter of time), but I do mind vague clues, and 7d is essentially unsolvable.

    Even once you have the theme, 1d requires you not only to know the King James version of 1 Samuel 24, but also to know that “covered his feet” is an expression meaning relieved himself. I can’t say it’s one I use terribly often, but perhaps I’ll start now. I eventually got it by searching for Saul and Engedi in Wikipedia, then checking the Bible reference in a modern version, and then checking it again in the King James. I think that’s a bit much for a daily crossword.

    Whilst not Irish myself, I can understand people finding 9 ac offensive. Would “Patrick” not have worked equally well?

  34. mhl says:

    Thanks, Eileen – when I said “apparently” I probably should have said “according to a controversial Wikipedia article rather lacking in citations” instead :)

    stiofain_x: If you were going to write to the crossword editor about the use of “Paddy”, which I think would be worthwhile, you might also want to mention the other similarly controversial words which have turned up in the last few months. This is the kind of issue where I would hope the Guardian would be far more careful not to cause offence. The crossword editor’s past discussion of these issues in his email newsletter was very disappointing.

  35. Eileen says:

    mhl: I wasn’t meaning to correct you: what I found was new to me. I’d always believed the RSV when it said “…or, in the Jews’ language, ‘Golgotha'”!

    [I agree with the remarks about ‘Paddy’.]

  36. muck says:

    Yes, tough for Tuesday. I didn’t help myself by entering ‘Genesis’ at 4dn (guessing from 5dn ABEL). Or for believing, in the absence of a clue, that 15ac could only be ‘Nothing’ until getting the crossing letters. Eventually guessed 15ac AGROUND and 1dn COVERING THE FEET, without knowing why.

  37. muck says:

    I still don’t understand 4dn, which appears – in both paper and on-line versions – as “Gent’s son, perhaps is”. First, I never saw Ghent spelled this way. Second, where is the definition?

  38. C & J says:

    Got to the back page earlier than usual today and finished it in spite of the clueless 15ac and having to guess 1d, but thought it a rather better Gordius than usual.

  39. Geoff says:

    I was also late starting the crossword today, and did finish it, although 1dn meant nothing to me and the clueless 15ac was the last word I put in (thinking that there was some huge subtlety that I was missing – I expected the answer to be something meaning ‘clueless’!).

    I usually like Gordius crosswords (which seems to be rather a minority taste), and he does produce some great clues (10ac, 19ac, 24ac and 4dn are my favourites in this one – particularly the last), but it is a pity that all the long down lights had cryptic definitions, which made the whole thing rather circular.

  40. JamieC says:

    Muck – I think the whole clue is a cryptic definition. “Gent’s son” is “Son of Gent”, i.e. someone from Gent (which is the Dutch spelling of Ghent). I expect not everyone likes a transposition of any old possessive into “‘s” when you would never express it that way in reality (I hope that makes sense!). “Son of…” in that sense is somewhat archaic, but still in the dictionary. Most famously it is used as a pun in the opening speech of Richard III: “Now is the winter of our discontent/ Made glorious summer by this son of York”.

    And someone from Gent would perhaps be Belgian.

    It’s almost too straightforward…

  41. Geoff says:

    Muck: the city which is usually spelled ‘Ghent’ in English is known as ‘Gent’ in Flemish and ‘Gand’ in French (and was formerly known in English as ‘Gaunt’ – as in John of Gaunt). There isn’t a def because it’s one of the (too) many clues in this puzzle which consist solely of a cd.

  42. barry wilson says:

    If you are a son of Ghent (often spelt Gent) you will naturally be Belgian. So, ‘Muck’, there is a succinct clue.

  43. dagnabit says:

    Shockingly, one of my fastest solving times ever–admittedly due to intuition and a few lucky guesses. I also find that extremely long answers are sometimes easier to fill in because there are fewer alternative possibilities (“EUPHEMISTIC” could hardly have been anything else, although I’m still smiling over Dave Ellison’s analysis of T_R_!). Still, I’m proud of myself for forgoing Internet research on this one.

    The clue for “OFT-TIMES” is now one of my all-time favorites.

    Muck, see comment #1 for the definition of 4d–in the sense in which “son” means a native of, and a native of Gent would indeed “perhaps” be Belgian.

    Thank you, Uncle Yap, for your delightful explanations. I enjoyed “large stream” and “small stream” even more than “covering his feet,” and “soft word for hard fact” is sheer poetry–and would have made a nice clue for 7d. :)

    Finally, cheers to all you newspaper solvers for grappling so bravely with 15ac and for withstanding the typeface!

  44. Geoff says:

    JamieC: As you point out, the old English genitive case is now usually limited to animate nouns – we would most commonly say ‘the man’s jacket’ but ‘the jacket of the book’. But it is not unknown even in contemporary English to use ‘apostrophe s’ in other contexts, particularly with place names, where there is perhaps a suggestion of personification for poetic effect, eg England’s Glory

  45. JamieC says:

    Geoff – I think where the apostrophe jars is where “of” is being used in the dative rather than genitive sense (i.e. in the sense of “from” rather than “belonging to”). So you could say “London’s skyline”, but you could never turn The Taylor of Gloucester into Gloucester’s Taylor (not only stylistically – it would actually mean something different).

  46. Mark says:

    Unfortunately I agree with some of the more negative comments posted above. Although there were some nice, clever clues here, for me completion just required too much guesswork and “Googling” due to vague cluing.

    Didn’t like gaolbreak to indicate an anag of gaol. I know this sort of thing is used often and I spotted it early but for me it doesn’t work.

    Wasn’t keen on 19ac with “starts to” clueing t

    Favourite clue for me was the cd for “no change”

  47. Derek Lazenby says:

    Gent may seem fair if you happen to know it. But now try to be sensible. Almost every overseas place name is spelt in a way which is different from that which is used here. Are we to be expected to them all? There are so many, what on earth is fair about using any of them? This sounds like specific knowledge not general knowledge.

    Funny how people refuse to accept specific knowledge as not being general knowledge, until something comes up which they don’t know, and who will be the first to cry foul then? You may think that, I could not possibly comment.

  48. Derek Lazenby says:

    sorry, expected to know

  49. muck says:

    I stand corrected on the spelling of Ghent/Gent/Gand, which I have driven past many times! It is very confusing driving through Belgium as the road signs aren’t bilingual: you are expected to know for example that Liege, in French-speaking Wallonia, is signed only as Luik when you are in Flemish-speaking Flanders.

  50. Geoff says:

    JamieC: Although we usually say that someone comes ‘from [a place]’, this isn’t a historic dative – cf Italian, where is is normal to say ‘sono di Roma” (I am of Rome) rather than ‘sono da Roma’ (I am from Rome) ‘. We talk about ‘John of Gaunt”, ‘Men of Kent’ (is that you, Smutchin?) and ‘England’s finest’.

  51. Jim says:

    ” go to the bathroom” is indeed a coomon phrase in Americe, but I’ve never heard “cover one’s feet” used here.

  52. mark says:

    Can I, with little euphemism, invite Gordius to run into my fist.
    Thanks for nothing the Guardian too – the lack of clue for 15A sent me even further off track and made the whole thing a waste of the limited ‘me’ time I had today.
    Vague clues spoil the pleasure of answers as you’re never sure you’ve got the bleddy thing.
    Sort it out Grauniad!

  53. Brendan says:

    I too am Irish and not really offended by the Paddy clue. IMHO Crosswords occupy a different ‘space’ than real life and for the sake of a good clue they often take liberties or play with reality. I cannot extrapolate from the clue that either Gordius or the Guardian have any anti-Irish feelings. Maybe I am only saying this because I got brogue and most everything else, except belgian.

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