Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,998 – Araucaria

Posted by Andrew on April 30th, 2010


I found this mostly pretty easy for a Friday Araucaria, especially after getting 1ac immediately. Lots of the usual Araucaria wit, and two very clever &lits (though both with minor flaws), and no particularly outrageous liberties that I noticed, except that I don’t fully understand 12ac.

1. FAIR TO MIDDLING (ODD TRIM)* in FAILING. A slightly facetious answer to such questions as “how are you?”, which by coincidence I had used (in a facetious manner) yesterday, so this was an instant solve
9,10. NUCLEAR FISSION (FUEL IN CARS IS ON)* &lit – very clever, though I suppose it’s really a source of power rather than fuel.
12. HOUSEROOM HOU[r] (45 mins is three quarters of an hour) + MOORE’S< (from Old Moore's Almanac). I'm not sure about the definition "Where to receive ideas etc": is it to do with the expression "giving houseroom to (something)"?
17. WOMEN’S LIB LINES* in WOMB. We don’t see the expression “women’s lib” much any more, but I remember the days when feminists were dismissively referred to “women’s libbers” for proposing such outrageous ideas as equal pay.
20. BASE METAL MEETS* in BAAL. Nice misdirection over two senses of “lead”.
22. WINCE WIN + C.E.
24. TORTURE (ROTTER U)* &lit. Chambers gives U for “universal” but not “universally”.
2. INCUBUS IN CUB US. Audreus recently clued INCUBI as “Expecting young one to have nightmares”, and there was some discussion in manehi’s blog about the “nightmare” definition (which is given in Chambers).
3,21. THE HORSE’S MOUTH Double definition
4. MORPHIA MORPH + I + A (“first” – a regular Araucarianism)
5. DEFAULT Double definition
6. LISLE Hidden in cornwalL IS LEgendary
14. WENTWORTH Reference, I assume, to Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, a supporter of Charles I, with the rather vague wordplay WENT WORTH [amount omitted]
16. MISSIVE MISS IV (4) + E (fifth letter)
17. WITNESS Double definition
18. MULATTO [for]MULAT[ing] + TO
19. LINGUAL [Aer] LINGU[s] + AL (others, as in “et al”).

54 Responses to “Guardian 24,998 – Araucaria”

  1. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew. I also got the top corner quickly and that helped. Some good clueing as ever with Ari but 9a was roughish with “source” as the definition, and like you 12a’s houseroom seemed to me a weird place to receive ideas. Didn’t know 14d but like everything else it was gettable sans aids.

  2. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew for an excellent early blog. An enjoyable puzzle. Re 12ac. For what it’s worth, my own reading of houseroom is exactly as yours. I got the answer in three stages 1. Reverse Moore’s 2. Realised through first letter (h) and meaning that it ‘houseroom 3. Puzzled why and saw ‘hou’ as 3/4 hour.
    Re 14d. I first assumed (from letters and ‘sense’) and then checked Wentworth.

  3. Ian says:

    Cheers Andrew

    Quite a tester from the master this Friday.

    Always a relief to be confronted with a border of long solutions to start things off as an hors d’œuvre. Of these, 1dn, iac and 25ac were in quicksticks.

    The rest became one of those where several answers went in and I spend as much time justifying it. Much to admire, not least the “Fluffed lines in womans part” as WOMensliB. Superb.

    Others that derserve commendation are ‘Incubus’ (gruesome), ‘Lingual’ (fiendish) and lastly
    ‘Wentworth’ a v. clever reference to the Influential character from the English Civil War,Tommy Wentworth, the 1st earl of Strafford. Nothing of course that couldn’t be solved by the quality of the clue here that would defeat the solver.

    Well done Araucaria. It was a 45′ treat.

  4. Neil says:

    Surprisingly, a rather disappointing doddle, and quite clumsy in places I thought.

  5. walruss says:

    I found it to be great fun. 12ac a stumble for me really, but I’m glad to be given the reassurance from Andrew and Tupu. Very enjoyable!

  6. Lopakhin says:

    I feel a hissy fit coming on. There I was, feeling chuffed at actually finishing an Araucaria without recourse to any aids, and Neil (4) calls it a doddle. Harrumph.

  7. Stella Heath says:

    Solved this remarkably quickly, considering I’d got through all the across clues with only one answer. The breakthrough came straight from the horse’s mouth :). From there on everthing fell into place. with quite a few smiles along the way.

    I didn’t bother to look up Wentworth, as I assumed I’d find the explanation here.

    Never heard of “houseroom” – is this a modern expression? (I haven’t lived in England for over 30 years)

  8. medici says:

    Thank you for the blog which explained all those I filled in which seemed to be right and were!
    “I wouldn’t give it houseroom” is used when you dislike an idea Hence “houseroom” is where one receives ideas.

  9. Bill Taylor says:

    A disappointingly routine effort from Araucaria (though I rather liked 12a). And I guess this means he won’t have the opportunity to do something really special for the 25,000th Cryptic. That’s even more disappointing.

  10. Dave Ellison says:

    Lopakhin #6. I appreciate what you are saying, and I always preface my comment with something like “I found..”, as in I found it quite easy today. It can be very disconcerting to find I have struggled and then be told it was a doddle.

    I think one person’s doddle is another’s dawdle. I often take about the same time as Ian at #3, but today for whatever reason he seems to have found it more of a challenge than I did. Maybe it’s the weather or the bomb.

  11. Chunter says:

    What Telemann was to cantatas, Roger Squires is to crosswords. Saul hath slain his thousands, but Roger hath set his tens of thousands. His millionth clue appeared in 1989, in The Daily Telegraph, and his two millionth, here too, in 2007. It was: “Two girls, one on each knee (7).

    What has this to do with today’s puzzle? Nothing, but readers of this blog will enjoy reading the tribute to Rufus at

  12. Eileen says:

    Hi Chunter

    Many thanks for that. Monday is quite a momentous day all round!

  13. Tokyo Colin says:

    Thank you Andrew. I enjoyed your explanations.

    Stella #7 – like you I only managed 1 or 2 of the across clues and was suitably concerned but Horses Mouth opened the doors for me too. I also skipped Googling Wentworth. And when I first considered Houseroom, as a concatenation of HOU and MOORES<, I thought "but it's not a word". And then I remembered the old saying "I wouldn't give it houseroom." And as Molonglo #8 says, if there is a negative, there must also be a positive, so I was happy to accept it.

    And I have never lived in England, never read or even seen a Guardian newspaper and haven't lived in my native Australia for 33 years.

  14. William says:

    I’m with Lopakhin (#6) notwithstanding Dave Ellison very decent response (#10)

    I got there but struggled with HOUSEROOM and WENTWORTH. I don’t really think either are very elegant clues.

    As a scientist, I take exception to heat & temperature being synonymous in 14ac WHEAT. Temperature is a measure of heat not a synonym for it.

    Hey-ho, His Lordship has commited worse crimes in the past and (hopefully) will continue to do so.

  15. Tokyo Colin says:

    William, as an erstwhile scientist myself I appreciate your objections to temperature as a synonym to heat. But crossword setters, and solvers, are not confined to scientific definitions of everyday terms. In a recipe, high heat and high temperature are certainly synonyms and it only takes one such domain for the setter to be justified in using them as such. I think it was a fair clue.

    Now I am waiting for a horticulturist to mention wheat as a synonym for corn. (That’s fine with me too.)

  16. Bill Taylor says:

    Thanks for the link, Chunter. Reading the Telegraph piece is a reminder of what an achievement it is to compile a cryptic crossword — even one that may be widely dismissed as mediocre!

    (Speaking as a journalist and photographer, though, someone at the Tele should’ve been shot for that horribly contrived photo.)

  17. Andrew says:

    Chunter – thanks for the Rufus link.

    William – I was going to question temperature = heat in 14ac, but I agree with Tokyo Colin that they are close to synonymous in non-technical speech (we say it’s a hot day, not a high-temperature day). Likewise, in the same clue, corn=wheat is perhaps debatable, but corn is used as a generic word for any type of grain (in fact “corn” and “grain” are cognates), so I think it’s fine.

  18. Daniel Miller says:

    I keep reiterating it. I’m really not sure if lately the Guardian crossword has got easier or reading this blog has reduced the difficulty – with the additional understanding I have learnt. Nevertheless A’s crossword today was pretty straightforward..

    Let’s hope for a great Monday one..

    Thanks for the Rufus article. Maybe worth buying the DT on Monday!

  19. Bullfrog says:

    I don’t normally time myself, but the first comment at the Guardian Online site prompted me to do so today, and my last solution went in after 15 minutes. The long top and sides all helped and 25ac was the last to go, but with all crossing letters in place it couldn’t have been anything else. I hadn’t heard of Wentworth but it looked a good bet, and Houseroom made perfect sense. As for Nuclear Fuel, it seems to me to be a fairly common phrase — a quick Google brought up this:

  20. Coffee says:

    Damn SAMOS, never heard of it. Did like MEPHISTOPHELES though.

  21. liz says:

    Thanks, Andrew. And thanks, Chunter for the Telegraph link.

    I had HOUSEHOLD at 12ac for a while, which held up 8dn, but got there in the end.

  22. retired pleb says:

    Bit weak for Arau I thought, all done without aids, so must have been easy ! Thought 14A feeble and 23A ‘cluttered’ new anag indicator. Enjoyed 3,21 as best clue imo.
    Re-Bank Hol puzzles, used to enjoy Ara in the 1970’s era when he often produced a double grid version each with a theme and merged clues

  23. FumbleFingers says:

    Thanks for the comprehensive blog Andrew.

    I only came here today to see what others thought of HOUSEROOM, and the consensus seems to be ‘not much’.

    I agree with Tokyo Colin @13 that “I wouldn’t give it houseroom” is valid – usually for concrete nouns like ‘vase’ or ‘cat’, not abstracts like ‘ideas’.

    But I DON’T agree that a valid negative implies a valid positive. I doubt anyone has EVER said “I’d give it houseroom” to counter another’s opinion that [some flakey idea] isn’t worth considering.

    Overall, another excellent offering from The Boss. Though it seemed to me quite a bit easier than his usual level (which I rarely complete without Chambers / OED / Google etc.)

  24. Eileen says:

    Hi FumbleFingers

    I’m absolutely with you.

    I was out all morning and visited the blog just to see the thoughts about HOUSEROOM. I’d only ever thought of it in the literal, physical sense, and, on your further point, Collins’ entry is ‘give [something] houseroom [used with a negative]’ [note, not ‘usually’ – my parentheses] ‘to have or keep something in one’s house’.

    Where did ‘ideas’ come from?

  25. Derek Lazenby says:

    I was going to say that as even I finished it, the comments about it being easy must be correct, but then I paused and realised I’m losing count of how many of A’s I’ve finished now, so I’ll have to stop saying that I think.

    Not sure what all the fuss over HOUSEROOM is. It’s not true that it only get’s applied to concrete items. I’ve sat through many design meetings where ideas were dismissed with that phrase. I can’t remember a specific occasion, but the idea that I’ve heard someone reply to the negative with “Well I would” (implying the positive) doesn’t ring any alarm bells about it having never happened, so I tend to presume it has.

    Hmm. Role reversal? It’s not me that is having problems with something that I see as ordinary. That’s not the first time, but it is still a pleasant change and raises a smile.

  26. FumbleFingers says:

    Hi Eileen

    Your diligence humbles me! And reminds me that I really should consult my Collins more often. Chambers + OED cover all the bases / basics, but when following up fine distinctions it’s always worth having another authoritive source (which IMHO would rarely include Websters).

    Plus I tip my hat to Derek above for identifying what seems to me the outermost limit of ‘non-quirky’ usage for this wretched word.
    Imagine an inattentive attendee at his meeting just hearing “Well I would”, but not what came before. He might say “Would what?”

    I for one would actually expect the response “Give Derek’s idea houseroom”. BUT I’d also expect it to be accompanied by a smile, as the speaker realised mid-utterance that he’d effectively been forced into using a somewhat non-standard form.

  27. TRIALNERROR says:

    Had a dejavu moment with “INCUBUS” (2D). Who else has defined this being as a “nightmare” recently?

  28. Derek Lazenby says:

    FumbleFingers, hmm grin. But then software is one of the most stressful occupations, as is telecoms, we were doing both! Non-standard ideas were required to give us an edge, so we were habitually in “non-standard” mode. Almost anything went, even if it was only as light relief from the stress. So yeah, oddball usages abounded.

  29. cholecyst says:

    I’ve come late to this entertaining puzzle. A passionate plea: will everyone follow Chunter’s link, repeated here,, to the life and times of the great Rufus? BTW, what’s the anagram fodder to ” Llanfairpwllgwyn gyllgogerychwyrndrob wllllantysiliogogogoch”, which he clued with an anagram?

    Gaufrid: Off topic , I know’ but please let this endure for a while.

  30. cholecyst says:

    Whoops,the link didn’t work for some reason. Here it is again.

    I’ve come late to this entertaining puzzle. A passionate plea: will everyone follow Chunter’s link, repeated here,, to the life and times of the great Rufus? BTW, what’s the anagram fodder to ” Llanfairpwllgwyn gyllgogerychwyrndrob wllllantysiliogogogoch”, which he clued with an anagram?

    Gaufrid: Off topic , I know’ but please let this endure for a while.

  31. Andrew says:

    TRIALNERROR – it was Audreus: see my note in the blog…

  32. Sil van den Hoek says:

    I know, Araucaria’s crosswords have their pros and cons, but for me (or better: us) this was Araucaria as I (or better: we) like to see him in a weekday crossword.
    We completely disagree with qualifications like ‘clumsy’, ‘weak’ or (even worse) ‘disappointingly routine’.
    But then, we’re all different, aren’t we?

    Because there were no cross-references today [Hurrah!] and in the absence of a theme, Araucaria could concentrate on making every single stand-alone clue as challenging as possible [and this time with a lot of nice surfaces, normally not his priority]. We think, he succeeded [well, of course, some are better than others].

    A very good, down-to-earth [no constellations, no fighter planes :)] crosswords.
    For us it was a treat and one of the better Araucaria’s of late.

  33. Eileen says:

    Hi FumbleFingers

    I would call it cussedness, not diligence – you may have noticed I’m like a dog with a bone when I get started! :-)

    I just feel we’re all missing something here [even Sil hasn’t commented on this one!]: A. does say ‘ideas ETC.’ Is that significant? I can usually see where he’s coming from [I knew immediately that 45 minutes was going to be HOU [he’s done this before!]and would practically always spring to his defence re ‘dodgy’ clues but this one has me beaten. I know it’s going to bug me for ages!

    Please, if anyone comes up with an explanation of why ‘ideas’, rather than anything more concrete that you would give houseroom, please post it, however late in the day!

    Apart from this, I enjoyed the puzzle just as much as I would expect to!

  34. Davy says:

    Thanks Andrew…

    and thanks to Araucaria as this is the first crossword that I’ve managed to complete this week. I was a few short on all the previous puzzles and it’s usually the simple DDs that stump me. The shorter clues often defeat me whereas the longer clues are usually easier to solve. Both Araucaria and Paul tend to go for longer clues which explains my success with them compared to some other compilers. The last clue I got today was 17d (WITNESS) which is actually the shortest clue and an example of a simple DD. The two word DDs are the very worst to solve.

    It’ll be interesting to see who tomorrow’s compiler is !.

  35. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hi Eileen (#33),

    “even Sil hasn’t commented on this one”? – I feel flattered, but …
    … unfortunately English idiom is one of my weaker points and as such this was thé clue that stumped us [us, which includes my PinC].
    That it had to be HOUSEROOM was clear from its construction [even though we hadn’t heard of Moore’s before] – and to be honest, from that moment on we thought ‘well, Araucaria must have a reason for the definition, so be it’.

    But as you ask it now, I think there is no other explanation than the one Andrew mentioned and which medici (#8) made more or less clear.

    The Oxford Dicitonary tells us that “not give something houseroom” = “be unwilling to have or consider something”, which leads to “give something houseroom” = “be willing to have or consider something”. Therefore: the ‘houseroom’ is a place where one receives or considers something. That cán be an idea, and maybe something else – hence ‘ideas etc’.
    I fear this is really just it.
    So, Eileen, I wouldn’t think too deep about it for the rest of the night.

    Oh, and there’s still Bill Taylor (#9), of course, to help us.
    Apparently he didn’t like the crossword as a whole, but he did like HOUSEROOM.
    So perhaps he could have the final word?

  36. sidey says:

    Eileen, see the OED: 1892 A. B. BRUCE Apologetics Introd. i. 25 His [Lessing’s] large genial nature gave house~room to ideas and tendencies not easily reconciled.

    I suspect that this obscure work may be familiar to the setter. Its full title seems to be Apologetics or Christianity Defensively Stated. There is a downloadable version here []

    I really must get out more ;)

  37. Derek Lazenby says:

    Eileen, perhaps I wasn’t clear enough, ideas was by far the most common use of the term that I came across, but without being restricted to that. We used it so much at work in the context of ideas, it is difficult to see why people think that that use is obscure. In a development and design environment, ideas are what you are constantly inventing and shredding, they are your concrete items, so why wouldn’t we use that phrase and the positve version with casual regularity?

  38. SoleTwin says:

    I’ve been pitting myself against the guardian crossword for about six weeks now and was pleased to get four clues today, a best so far for an Araucaria, so i’m quite pleased. Not as pleased as you smug types!

  39. scarpia says:

    A bit late catching up on this debate,no access to computer till late.
    I must admit that I had no real problems with ‘houseroom’ but,thank you sidey,I think you have totally put this one to bed!

  40. FumbleFingers says:

    [this is just so I can have the final word…]

    Notwithstanding Derek @37 I still maintain HOUSEROOM as a (positive / actual, rather than negative / dismissive) repository for ideas is quirky.

    Sure, OED has an example [sidey @36]. But fer chrissakes – it’s well over 100 years old, hyphenated, in a sentence deliberately reflecting its subject who is a bit quirky anyway!

  41. Daniel Miller says:

    “I wouldn’t give that houseroom!!” as my other half would say if I’m looking at an ornament in an antique shop.. (meaning “I wouldn’t entertain that on display!”)

  42. Another Andrew says:

    A very late podt from me as I’ve been in London all day and had to resort to filling in a grid, in a paper, with a pen! I don’t know whether the absence of any cheating facilities was psychological but I didn’t do very well today, unlike (it seems) every one else.

    I actually got the 45′ = HOU but but didn’t know the almanac writer, and would have been confused by HOUSEROOM anyway. I was trying to crowbar some wierd spelling of Hugenots into the grid even though it was obviously rubbish.

    I’m blaming it on spending too much time in De Hems celebrating Koninginnedag. Sil – did you raise a glass to the Queen today (or, more strictly, yesterday) ?

  43. Another Andrew says:

    What’s a podt? I think I meant a post.

  44. stiofain says:

    Maybe ill get the last word
    I spent a while thinking IDEA was related to IKEA for household goods
    I was sadly wrong and couldnt make it work.
    A nice easy A to lead us into the classic that the 25k is bound to be.

  45. Tokyo Colin says:

    This is probably after last call , but I agree with Derek #37 – I associated the expression “wouldn’t give it houseroom” specifically with ideas, particularly as oddball proposals in a brainstorming session. Perhaps that usage is confined to software development which was my trade 20+ years ago.

  46. Roger says:

    cholecyst @ 29/30 ~ Hi

    Rufus quotes the clue in the introduction to his volume in the Guardian Setters Series …

    Giggling troll follows Clancy, Larry, Billy and Peggy who howl, wrongly disturbing a place in Wales (58)

    … and it appeared in The Telford & Wrekin News in 1979 !

  47. Trench Adviser says:

    Good puzzle, which I was happy to complete in a little over one hour.

    I’m slightly surprised at the lack of comment about the use of ‘mulatto’, especially remembering other minor controversies in the past, eg about the word ‘coolie’.

  48. mike04 says:

    The word HOUSEROOM is used in some schools. It’s often a base where students may seek advice, help, encouragement (and ideas etc!) from their Housemaster or Housemistress.

  49. scarpia says:

    Amen -now that is definately the last word!

  50. Huw Powell says:

    W00T I managed to finish another crossword! And an enjoyable one at that, there was a fun middle stage where each new word would give me a crosser that helped me tumble the next one, for seven or eight clues in a row.

    Re: House(-)room, I never found “Moores”, but inked it in anyway after searching at wikipedia and noting the usages of the word. When one was something related to boarding schools (a master living in each house-room or some such) I was perfectly happy with the “receive ideas” part. While I got it very late, HOU or OUR was the first bit of the puzzle I got.

    Women’s lib was most excellent, as was Torture, in my opinion.

    I have a minor beef in that corn =/= wheat; but “temperature” is ok for heat, it’s not the “scientific” sense so much as “running a temperature”, the colloquial for a fever.

    References used: Dictionary, Bible, Wikipedia. Could have substituted Atlas for Dictionary…

    As far as it being a “doddle”, I’d opine that if I can completely finish one of these, it’s not the hardest puzzle out there.

    Now to read posts 15 to 48…

    Thanks for the blog Andrew!

  51. sidey says:

    Hello Huw, Old Moore’s Almanack has been going since the 17th century. Well known over here for its lack of predictive ability. Glad you’re developing interests outside RW. If you think laterally you might remember me ;)

  52. FumbleFingers says:

    [dammit – I’ll never get the final word here…]

    I admit I was wrong – ‘houseroom’ is obviously acceptable to at least some anglophones to denote a place where ideas might actually be raised / stored, as opposed to the more common negation explicitly rejecting such a possibility.

    Albeit grudgingly, my thanks to those who have contributed to my enlightenment. I promise to be more sceptical when consulting my inner grammarian in future.

  53. Huw Powell says:

    Sidey, were you lateral quercus? Oh, and I read the entire wikipedia article on almanacs, but most of the historic ones were buried in a wall of text, so I don’t even know if they mentioned it.

  54. sidey says:


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