Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24746 / Gordius

Posted by mhl on July 8th, 2009


Quite fun today, and not too hard…

1. BRONCO BRO[w]N + CO = “firm”
4. ASPIRE A + SPIRE = “sprout” (as an intransitive verb)
9. DALI Hidden answer
10. STOKE POGES (SPOOKS GET E)*; STOKE POGES is where Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard is supposed to have been written
11. GATEAU GAT = “pistol” + EAU = “Water”
13. HODOMETER Cryptic definition; annoyingly I thought about “odometer” but never knew about this alternative spelling. (My earlier answer, “milestone”, was proved wrong with crossing letters…)
15. FEAT Sounds like “feet”
16. COPS COPS[e]; “fuzz”, slang for police, is the definition
17. BOBBY SOCK Double definition; “singular” because it’s normally “socks” – to “sock” a “bobby” might be an “assault on COPS”
21. DECADENT CADE = “Yorkist insurgent” in DENT = “depression”
22. NATHAN (HAT)* in NAN = “Grandmother”
25. RUBY Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald
26. THEMED THE MED = “off Alexandria?”
27. ESCHER (CHEERS)*; M. C. Escher‘s art is known for incorporating optical illusions
1. BRAVADO BRA = “support” + V = “against” + ADO = “trouble”
2. OLIVE 0 LIVE = “all dead?”
5. SLEIGH Sounds like sleigh slay
6. IDOLATERS IS = “One’s” around DO LATER = “to act in due course”
7. ELEMENT MEN = “people” in E = “English” + LET = “allow”; a chemical element might be part of a compound
8. VOLUME CONTROL Double definition
16. CLEMENT ELEMENT but with C instead of E as the opening
18. BONUSES BON = “Good” + USES = “purposes”
19. CHAMBER H = “horse” in CAMBER
20. SETTLE Double definition; SETTLE is in Ribblesdale
23. TORCH Hidden answer (with “for energy” being extraneous, I think)

48 Responses to “Guardian 24746 / Gordius”

  1. C. G. Rishikesh says:

    5d: Of course, you mean “Sounds like slay”.

  2. mhl says:

    Oops! Yes, thank-you – corrected now.

  3. Eileen says:

    Thanks, mhl, especially for the explanation of CHAMBER. I’d never heard of Camber – SETTLE’s more up my street. :-)

    I don’t think I’ve ever come across HODOMETER before – strange that that’s the less common alternative, since ‘hodos’ is Greek for ‘road’.

  4. Bryan says:

    I enjoyed this but, never having heard of Hodometer, I had to cheat – even though the ‘meter’ ending seemed obvious.

    Also, even though I live in East Sussex, I’d never heard of Camber, although this was easily guessed.

    Actually, I do prefer it when I learn a new word or two, so I’ve got no complaints.


  5. Crypticnut says:

    Thanks mhl.

    13a was the only one I had trouble with. I had never heard of HODOMETER but my dictionary defined it as an obscure version of ODOMETER so I guess I can live with that – especially, as Eileen points out, that hodos is greek for road.

    Apart from that a nice gentle enjoyable and well constructed puzzle.

    Now, I see England have won the toss at Sophia Gardens and will bat. Let the hostilities begin!

  6. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, mhl. 13ac. Some sources suggest that hodometer is that mono cycle device surveyors use to push along in front of them while odometer is the thing you have in the car.

  7. liz says:

    Thanks, mhl. I’m another one who was caught out by HODOMETER. Thanks to Eileen for explaining the derivation — I might stand a chance of remembering this one!

    Also took me a while to get SLEDGE out of my head for 5dn.

    I thought 27ac was quite neat and I liked the image conjured up by 10ac.

  8. mhl says:

    liz: I thought the (weak if any) anagram indication in was 27a was somewhat unfair, to be honest.

    Eileen / cholecyst: thanks for the interesting HODOMETER comments

  9. liz says:

    mhl — Yes, point taken re 27a. It would have been fairer with ‘various’ or something like that at the beginning.

  10. Crypticnut says:

    mhl – can’t agree about 27a. My initial reading was that it was an anagram of “cheers’ with a definition of artist so I found it pretty straight forward. It took me a bit longer to recognise 24a as an anagram – but I guess that just goes to show we’re all different.

  11. Neil says:

    Looked up ‘odometer’ in Collins (because it just had to be something close) and found [c18 hodometer …]. Looked that up. Bingo!
    Out of curiosity, went to Chambers. No messing; just a straightforward (also hodometer).

    Liz: I rather stupidly failed to get sledge out of my head although it seemed to have lttle to do with murder, except as a possible weapon or, as a verb, the threatening remarks associated with cricket. I bet it’s going on right now in Cardiff!

  12. Dave Ellison says:

    Enjoyed this.

    I was hoping 15a was FEET (if reported would give accomplishment), and then PODOMETER for 13a. Podometer: Diagnostic device used for evaluation of flat foot problems. Ah, well.

  13. Trench Adviser says:

    I’d never heard of the alternative spelling “hodometer”. The simplified version of a surveyor’s wheel was called a trundle wheel at my school.

    “Stoke Poges” was new to me too. Overall, relatively easy for a Gordius.

  14. Chunter says:

    19ac: not sure about ‘h’ as an abbreviation for ‘horse’ (even though ‘hp’ stands for ‘horse power’).

    13ac: presumably an odometer is a hodometer used by a Cockney?

    5dn: I too (doubtless with Australian cricketers in mind) first thought of ‘sledge’. (England 194-3 at Stadiwm SWALEC.)

  15. Gaufrid says:

    I think you meant 19dn, horse = heroin = h

  16. Mick H says:

    I thought a hodometer was a measure of how much a brickie could carry.
    Not a word I could readily find while solving on the tube, anyway.

  17. Ralph G says:

    13a HODOMETER, further to Eileen’s post at 3 above: new to me too. The ‘h’ in hodos is seen in ‘method’ from meta and hodos.
    The initial aspirate is an oddity in Greek, being represented by an inverted comma instead of a letter. When the letter H was intoduced into Greek from the Hebrew alphabet the dominant Greek dialect had no aspirate and the H was used for the long E sound, epsilon (similar to the Roman E) being used for the short E.
    Googling ‘hodometer’ brings up a lovely picture of a 16c German trundle wheel.

  18. sidey says:

    ‘ow come the Greek for ‘road’ is ‘hodos’ when they hain’t got a haitch? The OED gives the first three letters as omicron delta omicron.
    Anyway, nice puzzle.

  19. Eileen says:

    Ralph G When I googled this morning, I found a reconstruction of a hodometer designed by Archimedes!

    I’ve learned something today: I’d always wondered why it wasn’t ‘hodometer’, in view of the derivation. All my sources suggest ‘hodometer’ is the older version, so I’m with Chunter, sort of, in that it became ‘odometer’ through sloppy speech.

    Liz, I loved the spooks dancing in the churchyard, too!

  20. Chunter says:


    Thanks for the correction. I’m afraid my knowledge of drugs is very limited!

  21. Eileen says:

    Sidey, if you look carefully in OED, you’ll see a sign like this c [sort of] over the ‘o’, which indicates an aspirate, as Ralph G was saying.

  22. Eileen says:

    Over the omicron, I meant, sorry.

  23. muck says:

    13ac: I had PODOMETER, because of feet/feat in 15ac. See #12 above. I was actually thinking of PEDOMETER – see – which makes sense, but doesn’t fit with 1dn.
    5dn: I had SLEDGE, which I think is OK as a cricketing reference. See #11 above.

  24. liz says:

    Can anyone explained the cricketing sense of SLEDGE?

  25. Chunter says:


    Try this –

  26. liz says:

    Thanks, Chunter! That’s a new one for me.

  27. dave says:

    Just for another 13ac slant, I had Nodometer, reasoning that it may have gone from being a nodometer to an odometer at some point…..

  28. Dagnabit says:

    Thanks, mhl. I had the ingredients for 10ac but wasn’t familiar with the place, so no dice there. And I missed 13ac because I didn’t know HODOMETER and couldn’t decide among the four other words for measuring devices that fit the grid!

    Can someone explain the relevance of “priorities” in 6dn? This seemed a very imprecise definition of IDOLATERS…

  29. Eileen says:

    Hi Dagnabit

    I think it’s that idols are, essentially, false gods, therefore those who worship them have inappropriate priorities.

  30. Dagnabit says:

    Thanks, Eileen! So I guess Gordius means that idolaters are essentially wasting their time. How inefficient of them!

  31. Mike Laws says:

    Ancient Greek had a ‘rough breathing’ sign (like a backward apostrophe) and a ‘smooth breathing’ one (like an ordinary apostrophe) placed over an initial vowel to indicate the presence or absence of some kind of aspirate sound. The rough breathing appeared over all initial rhos (Rs), hence RH- in English words derived from Greek. Also, a double rho in the middle of a word had a smooth breathing over the first, and a rough over the second rho. Hence -RRH- in many medical terms.

    So in theory, ‘hodometer’ is the original and correct spelling – but now neglected. I suspect Gordius studied classics.

  32. liz says:

    Thanks to Gordius. It seems like he managed to teach us all something today…from cricketing terms to Ancient Greek!

  33. Eileen says:

    Mike Laws

    Thank you for your explanation of what I was trying to say in comment 21. The problem is that the way you would actually write an ‘apostrophe’ as an indication of a Greek aspirate is not how it appears on a modern keyboard, hence my difficulty in trying to explain to Sidey the symbol, as it appears in OED, as [sort of] like a letter ‘c’.

    [I’m quite sure that Gordius, as a clergyman of a certain age, did study Classics.]

    [It seems to me that ‘hodometer’ seems to have taken up a rather disproportionate amount of space in today’s discussion. Apologies for my part in this. :-)

  34. Dave Ellison says:

    To try and find the aspirated omicron symbol that Eileen wants, I tried translating HODOMETER using babelfish; it gives HODOMETER! ODOMETER

  35. Dave Ellison says:

    Apologies for the last comment, which somehow got accepted whilst I was typing.

    To try and find the aspirated omicron symbol that Eileen wants, I tried translating HODOMETER using babelfish; it gives HODOMETER! ODOMETER gives ????????. The omicron here is “with tonos” whatever that is, according to Word symbol.

  36. Eileen says:


    Thanks so much for trying [I did try myself!] – I’m going to bed now! Buona Notte :-)

  37. Dave Ellison says:

    Sorry. The ???????? was replete with Greek letters in the preview, but was “translated” when I submitted the comment

  38. Peter Owen says:

    If your browser can cope with Greek then this is what hodos looks like. You may need to enlarge it to see the aspirated omicron properly.


  39. Peter Owen says:

    I’m having the same problem as Dave Ellison.

    Try following this link instead:


  40. IanN14 says:

    If the Greeks didn’t have “H”s (or anything similar – I’m no classics scholar), how come Helen of Troy, Hippolyte or even (a synonym for the word itself) Hellenic?

  41. Mike Laws says:


    That’s how rough breathings are transliterated in English.

    My local’s the Springfield (Park Tavern) – it’s green and just about visible from Bounds Green tube. I had a lengthy liquid chat with Enigmatist/Nimrod there yesterday (Tuesday).

    Saturday afternoon, about half-one, for a beer or two?

  42. Neil says:

    You are all (nearly all) mad pedants, bless you! Thank the Lord and Richard Dawkins! I have absolutely no ancient Greek and vestigial Latin, thanks to the quite extraordinary incompetence of my Grammar School Classics Master, (how that dates a fellow!), so I have little idea of what you’re all on about. But I have very much enjoyed failing to follow your discussion. “Ignorance is bliss” so the cliche goes. I got the answer by simple recourse to dictionaries. (#11, above). Thanks all, for the fun, as ever. So much discussion about something so trivially obscure deserves appreciative celebration. Of course it matters. One learns, but then, sadly, one forgets. Huzzah!

  43. IanN14 says:

    Mike Laws,

    Ah, but I suppose that translation also applies to prefixes such as Hydra, Hippo, etc…
    So it makes Hodometer acceptable as an (English) answer?

    Anyway, I’ll try and be there Saturday.
    (Sorry to be off topic Gaufrid, but could you pass my email details to Mike?
    Or could you, with his permission, pass his on to me? Thanks)

  44. Chunter says:

    Wikipedia has articles on breathings ( and Usual Wikipedia caveats apply.

  45. Gaufrid says:

    Re comment #43, done.

  46. IanN14 says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid.

  47. Barnaby Page says:

    Muck – we also had PEDOMETER and were led thence to an erroneous BARRAGE for 1dn (BAR + RAGE, and a barrage is a boastful threat…well, maybe, if you squint at the definition the right way on leap-year Tuesdays).

  48. Barbara Gibbs says:

    Wouldn’t ‘monometer’ be better – “a line of verse having one measure or foot” 13ac.

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