Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,734 / Enigmatist

Posted by Andrew on June 24th, 2009


I got off to a good start with this one by getting 1/8ac straight away, but struggled later on. There are quite a few clues that I can’t fully explain: as I’ve run out of time I’ll leave it to the assembled wisdom of the commenters to help me out.

dd = double definition
cd = cryptic definition
* = anagram
< = reverse

1. FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE (AHEAD OF TIME NO SO DUST)* I guessed this almost immediately from “neat” (well-known crosswordese for cattle) and the enumeration.
9. LEGROOM “LE GROOM”. A nice “aha” moment when the penny dropped for me on this one.
11. OVERSEA VERSE in OA, but I can’t see how article=OA
12. TENSION IS in NO NET, all reversed
13. YO-YOS Another one I don’t get “YO YOS” could be “you and yours” in rapper talk, but who is W. King?
16. COLOSTRUM CO LOST RUM. Cololstrum is a rich fluid produced by mammalian mothers before their main milk comes through
21. ARC SINE ARSENIC*. The arc sine function is the inverse of sine – arc sin (x) is the number (angle) whose sine is x.
23. RELIEVO LIE in OVER<. The wordplay is quite subtle: about=OVER is “turning” (reversed) round (around) LIE.
24. YANGTZE River and….???
25. NODDING ACQUAINTANCE dd – Big Ears was Noddy’s friend: does that really make him a nodding acquaintance?
3. ALEXANDER No idea at all about this one. Presumably “man” is the definition
4. DELFT FLED< + T(ab) – AB = sailor = Jack (tar)
6. TWO-TIME TWO TIME(s) – the second “cross” is a reference to the multiplication sign (used as part of the answer in yesterday’s Gordius).
7. IDIOSYNCRASY IDIO(t)S NC RAS, “spanning” two Ys. RAS is a headland. Often misspelt as “idiosyncracy”
10. MONOPHTHONG (I SNOG NTH OOMPTH)* – the definition is by example “Among others, I”, but the sound of “I” is actually a diphthong (ah + ee) – perhaps a confusion with “monosyllable”?
15. REMBRANDT BRAND in TERM*. Unusually the definition (drawer) is in the middle of the wordplay, but I think it works ok here. However I can’t justify brand=colour, except in a vague sense/
17. LACONIC CON (“do”=swindle) in LAIC
18. SHIH-TZU H for A in SHIATZU – Japanese massage, usually spelt “shiatsu”; Chambers gives both spellings, but only one for the dog.
19. PALADIN AD in PALIN. Michael Palin played Sir Galahad in the film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”.
20. EREMITE Hidden in reverse of onE-TIME REcidivist
22. ELEMI (MEL in IE)<. Elemi is a fragrant resin.

66 Responses to “Guardian 24,734 / Enigmatist”

  1. beermagnet says:

    13A YOU and YOURS take away W ( two Us) and R (King) leaves YO YOS

  2. beermagnet says:

    11A The OA comes from “old article”. Clue:
    Foreign poetry mentioned in old article

    4D I also had Alexander despite not fully explaining it – the “joiner” is probably the AND.

    And as for 24A YANGTZE ?!

    I thought the Noddy/Big Ears clue was cute.
    I found this crossword very hard – I only had one clue in definite after a first pass (5D ORGANIC) but then got 1A/* and 7D for a good re-kick-start.
    This must be a pangrammatic grid – if that’s the right term.

  3. Andrew says:

    Thanks x2 Beermagnet – the online version is missing “old” from 11ac.

  4. C. G. Rishikesh says:

    24a YAN G(TZ)E
    River – def
    spot in which I’ll get lost, – Z(-i)T
    say? – E.G.
    No . NAY
    circumnavigating – c/c ind
    Backs (7) – rev ind

    I am still not completely satsified; maybe some more work is needed there.

  5. C. G. Rishikesh says:

    The question is how the reversal of ZT is indicated in that clue.

  6. Radler says:

    15 down: “brand” is clued by “make” and the definition is “drawer adding colour”, i.e. a painter

  7. C. G. Rishikesh says:

    Let’s try this
    E(Z[i]T)G NAY – all this rversed

  8. Andrew says:

    Thanks Rishi and Radler.

  9. IanN14 says:

    beermagnet, (comment 2).

    Close, but no J or K.

    Can anybody explain Alexander yet?

  10. IanN14 says:

    Think I’ve got it…

    A + reel (whirl)< containing X (by, as in “times”) + and (joiner).

  11. mhl says:

    Good grief, this was seriously tough – well done to those who finished it… Thanks for the explanations, Andrew and everyone else.

  12. Chunter says:

    10dn: an ‘S’ is missing from the end of MONOPHTHONG.

  13. Dave Ellison says:

    No comment

  14. medici says:

    I thought a monophthong was a vowel hence “Amongst others I”

  15. liz says:

    This was hard! Didn’t get 10dn and didn’t finish the bottom right corner. 9ac was another nice clue for LEGROOM and I enjoyed 1,8 and 16ac. Thanks for explaining YANGTZE, one of the most convoluted wordplays I can remember in a daily…

  16. IanP says:

    I agree this was hard. Wasn’t mad about some of the clueing, either,w hich is odd for Enigmatist. And Big Ears has a nodding aquaintance. He isn’t one himself.

  17. John says:

    A monophthong is a sound which remains constant throughout its pronunciation in a word, e.g bag, beg, big, bog, bug, as opposed to a diphthong which has two distinct sounds as in “I”.
    And that’s all I have to say.

  18. PeterL says:

    I think yangtze only makes sense if you spell it with an ‘s’ GET, SAY and N for No

  19. Qaos says:

    I too thought this was quite a tough one. Even having some big anagrams didn’t give enough helping letters. I respect Enigmatist, but sometimes his wordplay has me in such knots that I fear my pen will break … hopefully Paul tomorrow will be easier!

    However, I did like 19d – a clue that made me smile amidst the grimacing :-).

  20. Neil says:

    Finished! Difficult, convoluted and time-consuming.
    All correct bar IDIOSYNCRACY. Thanks Andrew; usually I can spell. I didn’t know RAS was a headland and couldn’t account for RAC, idiot. I might have done better with an Ethiopian prince!
    Thanks C.G. Rishikesh for enlightenment over YANGTZE, which I got only from “River” and crossing letters.
    Thanks too, Radler, for MAKE=BRAND. (Rembrandt though eh? What a geezer!).
    I was thrown at 10d by “sloven with” as a curiously placed anagrind and had to resort to a dictionary search of M-N-P- – -O-G-. Never heard of it. Diphthong yes, so workable outable I suppose.
    I pretty much saw how all the others worked, even those elucidated above, eventually. Good job I’m retired.
    Grinned at 9ac but didn’t like it. Not keen on 14ac either; CHEAP seems unexplained.
    And 22dn; what on Earth is “the hill” for?

  21. IanN14 says:


    There’s an “i” in big (one of your examples).
    Does this stop it being a monophthong?

  22. sidey says:

    Certainly not weekday fare.

    I would be interested if anyone could come up with the use of ‘ras’ as a headland. It’s not in the on-line OED nor the notoriously unreliable Wikipedia. A fairly thorough search on Google yields this list It doesn’t really appear to be either common or have any English usages. This instance, unlike the carping from a certain quarter about the recording of common errors, would appear to be a real mistake in Chambers.

    As IanP says, Big Ears was surely nodded to rather than nodding.

    Alexander and Yangtze must rank among the most awful convolutions ever inflicted on solvers.

  23. muck says:

    Agreed, this was tough. Thanks all for the explanations.

    Sidey: ‘ras’ (in 7dn) Chambers has “n. a headland: an Abyssinian prince [Ar. ras, ra’s, head]”

  24. Derek Lazenby says:

    sidey, I’m confused now. An error is an error, calling it common doesn’t make it not genuine. Would you mind awfully expanding on that? Just curious is all.

  25. Mister Sting says:

    Not even close, just organic*.
    Very, very bad.

  26. Terry says:

    May I suggest (tentatively) that Yangtse is better parsed as ST (spot with PO = river lost) surrounded by EG (say) and NAY, all backwards?

  27. Mister Sting says:

    The ‘i’ in big involves only one sound in its production, the word ‘I’ has two. The Wikster has a rather lovely explanation of diphthongs, also known (I learn) as ‘gliding vowels’.
    10dn was, therefore, different to the rest of the crossword in being not only bad, but wrong.

    19dn was lovely, though. And at least some of the clues (e.g. 13ac) are probing new directions, albeit with questionable success.

  28. IanN14 says:

    Mister Sting,

    I see your point, but how do you know that the clue didn’t refer to the “i” in big for example?

  29. Neil says:

    muck @ #23.
    Re: ‘ras’ – My Chambers, 10th Edition, has “Ethiopian prince”, honest! Collins seems never to have heard of the word, in either guise, (#20, above).

    And, 5dn, what function does ‘close’ have in the clue?

    Mister Sting #25: Sorry, I don’t understand.

  30. Brian Harris says:

    Phew. Pretty tough today. Only had three after half an hour. Managed to finish all but ELEMI in the end (never heard of it). Although I did misspell IDIOSYNCRASY. Not that it would have made any difference, as never heard of RAS as headland. Assumed it must have been RAC. Good stuff, but difficult – hardest in a few weeks.

  31. Mister Sting says:

    Neil Re: #25
    I mean that the crossword doesn’t come close (to being satisfying). Not ‘close, but no cigar’, just ‘no cigar’ (using one of today’s clues).

    In fact, I think that ‘amongst others’ is meant to indicate, not that we are looking for a plural, but that the definition is, as it were, ‘I when placed among other letters’.
    However, this would make the answer ‘monophthong’.

    In the same clue (10dn), I don’t see that ‘sloven’ naturally includes ‘oomph’. If you see what I mean.

  32. muck says:

    Neil @ #29.
    Chambers 7th edn, which was nearer my desk, had Abyssinian prince.
    Chambers 11th does have Ethiopian prince.
    Perversely: the 7th edn defines Ethiopian correctly, but Abyssinian only as a breed of cat; the 11th edn defines Abyssinian also as ‘relating to Abyssinia, the former name of Ethiopia’.

  33. IanN14 says:

    Mister Sting.

    It is if it is in “it”.

    There’s some examples of “i” as monophthongs, none of which are contained between other letters.
    You even have two in your own name. They’re still “i”s and they’re still monophthongs.
    The reason it’s plural is it is among otherS.
    Sorry to be pedantic, but the clues are meant to be cryptic.
    I’m not saying it’s a good clue, just that I can see what he’s getting at.
    Araucaria, for example, gets away with far worse.

    I like Enigmatist/Nimrod, but this was not one of my favourites.

    Where’s the voice of reason when you need her?
    Come on, Eileen…

  34. mhl says:

    #19 Qaos: how do you know it’s going to be Paul tomorrow?

  35. Paul (not Paul) says:

    Can someone help me with my sums

    I SNOG NTH OOMPH has 13 letters and the answer (monophthongs) has 12.

    How was I supposed to know which letter to drop or have I miscounted something?

    I never really like enigmatist. I find his clueing style too convaluted and forced. Today’s was almost impenetrable. Around 50% of answers I couldn’t justify and with no access to on-line checking this led to a lot of uncertainty.

    Also, I can cope with one or two new words per day. It’s one of the reasons I do these puzzles. Today’s puzzle had 4 with references within clues to other words I didn’t know.

    And can I pick Andrew up on neat being crosswordese for cattle…since when? I don’t recall it ever from 20 years of puzzling.

  36. Paul (not Paul) says:

    Sorry. First point solved. I is the defn not the anagram fodder. Andrew’s solution misled me.

  37. Tom Hutton says:

    I have moaned before about unnecessary complication in clues where you can get the answer but can’t work out the clueing. When so many experts as are assembled here can’t work it out, I feel the edge of too much has bally well been exceeded.

    If this goes on, I shall only have a nodding acquaintance with my temper.

  38. Qaos says:

    #34 mhl: Tea leaves :-). As a blogger, can you see my email address? If so, please drop me an email and I’ll pass on my brewing tips, as it might be useful for the site.

  39. Neil says:

    Paul (notPaul) #35:
    ‘neat’ for cattle; I – with Andrew – also find totally familiar. Funny what sticks in the mind isn’t it? Is it because I is rustic? Or is it because I’ve been struggling with cryptics for 40 years or more? It may be because I learned it at school. They didn’t teach me much else as useful!

    Still waiting for help with the function of ‘close’ in 5dn and ‘the hill’ in 22dn, please.

  40. Dagnabit says:

    Neil – I think “close” was intended to mean that the answer is a word close (i.e., similar) to “natural,” rather than an exact synonym. This made some sense to me because, in the U.S. food industry for example, the criteria for being able to legally label a product “natural” are different than the criteria for labeling it “organic.” I have no idea if any of this went through Enigmatist’s mind, of course.

    No comment on the puzzle itself – I only got about half the answers. Nevertheless, I feel secure in saying that I think Rishi’s is still the best explanation of 24 so far.

  41. Neil says:

    Dagnabit @ 40.
    Thank you, though I remain unconvinced. Natural=Organic seems good enough in crosswordese. But maybe Enigmatist is more familiar with quaint colonial customs than I. (Sorry, but sometimes, one just has to, even though – or perhaps because – I have so much to do with traditional American music and musicians. If you are one of them, perhaps you know who Neil is? It’s a small world, but maybe not THAT small. Are you Pete, or Ira, or Riley. or Dave, or Tim, or Tom, or Brad, or Alice, or Debby [no, you wouldn’t be Debby], or Walt, or Jeff, or Arnie, or you could well be Dick?).

    What do you think about ‘the hill’, in 22dn?

  42. Derek Lazenby says:

    We have a growing number of people who admit to knowing neat = cattle. That bald statement isn’t exactly useful. So could someone actually explain it please? What is the context? Who would ever use it? It would be nice to know.

  43. IanN14 says:

    Sorry Mister Sting,

    Just reread (and understood) your comment 31. We’re probably singing from the same hymnsheet here.
    I do think the whole plural thing is a bit confusing.
    To be honest it’s doing my head in…

    Agree with Neil@39 re: neat…

    …but haven’t a clue what all those names mean.

  44. Neil says:

    Derek: pleased to hear from you!

    Collins: “neat … a domestic bovine animal”.
    Chambers (sorry Derek): ” neat … an ox, cow, bull, etc”.

    I admit that, amongst my fellow rustics, these days, ‘neat’ in this sense, rarely crops up in everyday conversation, but that hardly invalidates its meaning. For crossword purposes, I understand it. So, I suspect, would have my (farmworker) late great-uncle George (who had to go down to the end of the lane to turn round, on account of his feet). C’mon Derek – lighten up! This is fun! Well, perhaps not Enigmatist.

  45. Derek Lazenby says:

    Sorry? Since when was a polite request for information a trigger for saying lighten up? When are you people going to learn to read English? I never suggested it shouldn’t be used. Just asked for info and you translate that without any reason but your own blind prejudice.

    Anyway, what do those definitions say? We are no wiser, we already knew neat = cattle, you just gave a list of cattle, how useful. But why neat? Are we talking all cattle? Mature cattle? A breed or type of cattle? A completely generic name? A regional dialect? Where does the term come from?

    Is there anyone out there capable of responding to a simple request for information without twisting it into some tortuous pulp fiction plot?

  46. Neil says:

    IanN14 #43
    You refer and agree with #39 (thank you for that) but you be may also be referring to #41. In a flight of fancy I mentioned some of the first names of traditional American musicians I have had dealings with. I’d have been astounded (but gratified) if anyone had been able to make sense of any of those first names. It was a silly ‘lottery’ thing, with the odds heavily stacked against. But, what an improbable thrill it might have been if somebody had said “That was ME! Thanks for a great gig”. Sorry for the silliness, and I regret wasting your time. (“Must try to do better” X 200).

  47. Derek Lazenby says:

    Oh yeah, one other thing. How would neat be used? Presumably someone who knows cattle, or cow or oxen etc would normally use those words, so under what circumstances would neat be used instead?

  48. Neil says:

    I have been an appreciator and supporter of Derek Lazenby’s irascibility, and have said so on several occasions. I have, with regret, concluded that he forms impressions of what he thinks people have said, without reading or understanding the whole tenor of their comments properly, and then accuses THEM of not understanding English. I shall continue to pursue access to this absorbing site, as a reader, but shall discontinue contributing as long as Mr Lazenby continues to be so silly. Sorry Derek, but you are in polite company, and you ARE out of order.

  49. Chubfuddler says:

    To Derek: In America, neat’s-foot oil is used to condition and soften baseball gloves.

    To anybody: The online clue for 3d (Alexander) is “Man by joiner in a whirl? The reverse.” Is something missing? I don’t see anything that would enable one to divine an “x”.

  50. beermagnet says:

    Chubfuddler, IanN14 exlained ALEXANDER back at #10. X is from “by”.

    I’m mightily impressed by Qaos’s tealeaves.

  51. Bryan says:

    Hands up all those who can’t spell IDIOSYNCRACY …

    Because that’s exactly the way it appears in the Guardian’s Online Cheat option!


  52. Chunter says:

    It’s probably fortunate that the Grauniad isn’t running a spelling bee.

  53. John says:

    Haven’t read all the comments – too many – so sorry if these have been mentioned before.
    “I” as diphthong or monophthong depends on whether it is pronounced AYEE as in swine or I as in pig.
    Neat is I think biblical.

  54. Chunter says:

    Here’s what the OED says about the etymology of ‘neat':

    [OE. néat neut. = OFris. nât, naet, OS. *nôt (MDu. noot), OHG. nôz (obs. or dial. Germ. nosz, nos), ON. naut nowt (Norw. naut, Sw. nöt, Da. nöd):—OTeut. *nautom, f. naut- ablaut-variant of neut- to enjoy or possess, OE. néotan: cf. nait n. and v.1]

    Don’t shoot me – I’m only the messenger!

  55. IanN14 says:

    Nice one, Chunter.

    John. So an “i” CAN be a monophthong.
    I rest my case…

  56. Dagnabit says:

    Neil, alas, I am none of those you mentioned. Right now my only connection to American music is the acoustic guitar standing neglected in my closet.

    I was flummoxed about “the hill” as well!

  57. Derek Lazenby says:

    Neil, stop it. Just say where the totally inappropriate “Lighten up” comment came from and see what happens then.

    Chunter, nice try but I’m no wiser has to how and when I should use neat instead of any other word for cattle. There must be some example of when it is the prefered word to use, even if that preference is out of date.

    Interesting list of words that, it implies that nowt is related too. So everyhing from tidy to cattle to nothing is related? Mind boggling.

  58. john goldthorpe says:

    I’m a regular reader of these exchanges but have never commented before as I think I would just be a Derek Lazenby clone (grumpy old Yorkshireman).But just to help t’owd lad out for once, did his mother never give him neat’s foot jelly for tea? Or, if she did, did she perhaps call it cow heel?

  59. Derek Lazenby says:

    Nope, never. Though that may have had more to to with Dad not being very adventurous in his tastes. So, what did you understand by the term? A generic alternative to cattle or something more specific?

  60. Mister Sting says:

    IanN14 re #33

    I’m fine with pedantry. However, although the subsiduary indications are meant to be cryptic, the definitions are (except in the case of cryptic definitions, which this is not) meant to be exact. There is, at any rate, nothing cryptic about leading the solver to a singular when a plural is intended.

    In this case, the definition is “Amongst others, I”.
    “Amongst others” here means either:

    (a) that “I” is one example “amongst others”, which is incorrect, as “I” is a dipthong. It is irrelevant to point out that the letter “I” can be a monopthong in words such as “it”, as the clue would, in this case, need to indicate that such a use of the letter was intended, and not, as it does, specifify “I”.
    I’d argue that the answer should still be singular (as “one man amongst others in an army” would be “soldier”), but it makes little difference, as getting the definition wrong is about the worst thing one can do in a clue.

    Or (and, as I say, this is the definition that I think was intended)

    (b) that we are looking for what “I” is when it is placed “amongst others”, as in the word “big”. Then it certainly is a monopthong, and I, for one, quite like the definition, but there would be no reason to pluralise the answer. That is, although the words pig, wig, and Mister Sting contain monopthongs, the clue does not indicate multiple examples of placing I amongst others.

    To recap, the definition indicates a single instance of a letter. While it is a considerably lesser sin to have the answer incorrectly pluralised than to have a wholly incorrect definition, it is still a fault.


  61. Mister Sting says:

    Oh dear.

    NeilN14 – just noticed your comment at #43.
    I think we are singing the same tune.

  62. IanN14 says:

    Oh dear, as you say, Mister Sting.
    (I assume you meant me?)

    I thought I’d rested my case (55) regarding John’s comment (53).

    I think we just differ over one small fact.
    I’m simply saying “i” CAN be a monophthong.
    Why does that need to be qualified?

    OR: Picture this if you will…
    You’re at infant school and the teacher is explaining how to spell “big”.
    She may say “buh i guh” where I is a monophthong…

    OK, naff example, but there’s something there, isn’t there?

  63. IanN14 says:

    I just meant to say that the reason I mentioned “cryptic” is the fact that you don’t have to pronounce any word written down as it seems to imply.

  64. Neil says:

    Derek: well, thanks for #57 …
    At 3.10 am (#44) I suppose “lighten up” came from the bottom of my whisky bottle. Of course the comment was intended (mildly) to offend; but in the spirit of ‘let’s not take any of this TOO seriously, eh?’. Given the context of my light-hearted remarks about great-uncle George’s feet in the same message (intended to amuse), I regret you might have thought I was having a serious go at you. I say far worse to others at my local, and expect them to insult me, with interest, in return, for the fun of it.
    I retract my #48 (from the very bottom of my whisky bottle). These exchanges are too valuable to abdicate from. I’m not saying “sorry” – oh no – but maybe ‘pax’? No I didn’t go to private/public school but I did used to read the Dandy and Beano.

    So, #57, what happens next?

    (I have taken some care about my use of English here: I hope it’s enough).

  65. john goldthorpe says:

    Sorry Derek, was out at t’pub. Neat, in South Yorks in the 1940s, could apply to a cow, bull or bullock.

  66. kurwamac says:

    As usual, I’m late to the party, and I only looked in because I’d heard about the large number of comments.

    I don’t think ‘neat’ in this sense is in the KJV, although for tedious reasons that I won’t go into the site I usually use as a concordance seems to be playing up. But it seems to occur pretty much everywhere else in English literature, even in Masefield, which is fairly modern. I’m sure I’ve encountered ‘neatherd’ fairly often – well, relatively – though I’ve no idea where.

    And it is very common in crosswords, of course, along with all the antelopes.

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