Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,014 – Bonxie

Posted by manehi on May 19th, 2010


The first Bonxie I’ve blogged is also the first time I’ve seen 3dn, 18dn or 22ac. Everything else was mostly straightforward, but I did have to guess and google 3 and 22 in the end. Lots of very nice surface cluing.

5 SHAPES SH=[keep] mum + APES=mocks
9 ELDRITCH anagram of “children” with T[ime] swapped in for N[ew]
10,1 WINDOW SHOPPER WINDOWS=software + HOPPER [wiki]
15 PLEBISCITE =Vote. PB=lead [plumbum] around LE=”the French” + (cities)*
19, 17 RUN OFF =escape, RUNOFF=decider.
20 QUESTIONER rev(IT) in SON=boy in QUEER=strange
22 STRABISMICAL =squinty. (climb stairs a)*
26 ELYTRA =wings. ELY=[church] see + rev(ART)
28 RELENT “a little” of “when scondREL ENTers”, I suppose
29 WORK OUT double def
1 SEES =Gets. palindromic => “up and down”
2 OLDE Chaucerian synonym for ancient
3 PEIGNOIR [wiki] PE=physical education=games + (origin)*
4 RECUR hidden in “fiRE CURtains”
6 HAIRDO e.g. a bob cut. H[ospital] + (radio)*
7 PEDAL POINT (not applied)*
8 SEWAGE FARM (a few germs)*
11 PASTIS rev(IT’S) in PA’S
13 SPORTSWEAR SPORTS=exhibits + flower=[the river] WEAR
14 PENNYROYAL =type of mint. PENNY + ROYAL
16 COURSE double def
18 PILASTER a column, though apparently purely decorative and not for support [wiki]
“key” sounds like quay=PIER around LAST=25dn
21 OBERON OBE + rev(NOR)
23 IN-LAW must be this, but I don’t get the “Union organiser” bit. Anyone?
24 GO-GO GO=try, repeatedly
25 LAST =ultimate. Can also mean a load, or a unit of weight of commodities => cargo.

34 Responses to “Guardian 25,014 – Bonxie”

  1. Colin says:

    Thanks manehi. Straightforward perhaps, but not easy! I solved this without aids but it took most of lunch hour. 3dn and 18dn are in my vocab but 9ac was new to me and I needed Google to verify once it was done.

    I am not sure about 23dn either. There are Law Unions, but it’s a stretch.

  2. SimonG says:

    Thanks for the blog, manehi.

    Re. 23dn, I assumed that “union organiser” was a reference to in-laws arranging a wedding but that’s as much word association as a solid explanation…

  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Manehi, but this was too tough for me.

    22a STRABISMICAL was mainly my undoing. Is there really such a word? It really made me squint.

    Re 24d, Trade Union members are usually known as Brothers (or Sisters) but even then IN-LAW is not obvious.

  4. Bryan says:

    For 24d please read 23d.

    I’m still squinting.

  5. Ian says:

    Thanks to you mhl and to the excellent Bonxie for providing a really fine brain-teaser.

    Many fine clues to applaud. Especially good I thought were ‘Hairdo’, ‘Shapes’, ‘Pilaster’ & perhaps best of all ‘Plethora’.

    I needed Chambers to verify ‘Elytra’. Apart from that I must say that all clues appeared to be written in such a way that there was little chance of being misconstrued. Excellent!


  6. Richard says:

    Thanks for the blog, manehi.

    Lots to enjoy here, I must admit, despite the fact I’ve never heard of PENNYROYAL, PILASTER, PEDAL POINT, STRABISMICAL, ELDRITCH, or EYLTRA. Loved the anagram in 8.

    It is maybe stretching it a bit to assume that in-laws organise weddings nowadays (23).

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Gave up with half a dozen or so left. A few too many obscure words for my liking today, but others seemed to have enjoyed the challenge, so hey ho …

  8. Geoff Anderson says:

    Bedsides ‘olde’ being Chaucerian for ‘ancient’, isn’t it meant to be interpreted as ‘Old E’ namely Old English – or wasn’t Chaucer writing in OE?

  9. james g says:

    re 25: didn’t know last being an English word for weight, but it makes sense: the German for weight or burden is Last. Must be its derivation in English

  10. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Geoff @ no 8. Bedsides? Are you trying to tell us something? I think Chaucerian usage would normally be described as Middle English, or the start of it, but I will stand corrected – there’s no doubt someone out there who knows more about it than me. I just know that Ye Olde Worlde Tea Shoppe is complete linguistic pants.

  11. Bill Taylor says:

    I didn’t much like the first two Bonxies I tried but third time lucky, I guess. Some good, thoughtful clueing. I took 23d as a reference to stereotypical in-laws, once you’re in the family, trying to organize your married life. I think Geoff @8 is right. Strictly speaking, Chaucerian usage might be Middle English but, in more general terms, it’s pretty old English.

  12. liz says:

    Thanks, manehi. Some v nice surfaces in this one. I especially liked 4dn, 6dn, 8dn and 14dn. Not entirely convinced about OLDE, IN-LAW or GO-GO. 7dn was a new phrase for me, but I had heard of strabismus for a squint. Overall quite a toughie!

  13. walruss says:

    I found this a bit awkward. Not a satisfying solve with too many ‘idiosyncrasies’ for my liking.

  14. Tokyo Colin says:

    Speaking of ‘idiosyncracies’, I don’t know the expression Kathryn’s Dad uses at #10 – “Pants”. I can guess the meaning but is it panting from effort, underpants, cockney rhyming slang or what?

  15. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Hi Colin @ no 14.

    Pants is slang for rubbish, nonsense. ‘That’s pants, that is.’ I have seen it used by setters as an anagrind, and if Gaufrid will permit a football reference, I’m sure that a few seasons ago the Norwich City supporters of the female persuasion all brought a pair of knickers to a match and waved them at the team to show their feelings about the Canaries’ form at the time. Or I could have dreamt that.

    Where the expression comes from, I’ve no idea.

  16. Bill Taylor says:

    “Norwich City supporters of the female persuasion ALL brought a pair of knickers,” KD? Isn’t that rather an over-estimation of the team’s following? Perhaps “Norwich City supporters of the female persuasion BOTH brought a pair of knickers” might be nearer the mark!

    Sorry Gaufrid! And sorry, KD. As a Sunderland supporter, I couldn’t resist.

  17. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Now you’ve outed yourself in public, Bill, I’ll forgive you. But to get back on topic, I am interested to know where the term comes from.

  18. Bill Taylor says:

    The Online Dictionary of Slang offers this, KD: “Another possible etymology for the ‘displeasing’ meaning is the German expression ‘toten Hosen.’ Literally ‘dead pants,’ the expression means ‘impotent’ or ‘nothing going on.’ That sounds far-fetched to me, though.

  19. Daniel Miller says:

    KD: I suppose if one was being particularly vulgar.. pants are full of … (whatever you want to fill them with that isn’t very good)

    Not my cup of tea today – half solved in no time, the rest I gave up on!

  20. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks Bill and Daniel. Not convinced yet, but the evening shift will sort us out.

  21. tupu says:

    Thanks manehi. A bit of an off day as intrinsic difficulty and an apparent shortage of blood sugar left me beaten at the end by 9ac. Some insight into my relatively poor performance visble from 13 d (I knew it must be sports.. but only got it with a dictionary and 26ac. which should have been obvious even though the word was new to me. 23d is puzzling – assumed union equals marriage and left it at that. The first puzzle I have not completed for some weeks.

  22. Median says:

    Richard @6 said, “I’ve never heard of PENNYROYAL, PILASTER, PEDAL POINT, STRABISMICAL, ELDRITCH, or ELYTRA.” Me neither. However, we part company in our attitudes to manifold ignorance. I’m glad Richard thought there was lots to enjoy. I just found it an unsatisfying slog.

  23. tupu says:

    I have not come across ‘pants’ in this sense but it does seem well-established. The following is dredged up from the BBC News site under heading ‘pile of pants':
    “USAGE: Letter rejecting asylum seeker’s case, from a Home Office official, December 2000: “With regard to your claim to be a national of Afghanistan, the Secretary of State thinks that this is a pile of pants.””
    Hyperlink is
    NB Acc. to site there was later an apology. Not clear if it was an actual quotation from J.Straw or official’s gloss.

  24. Dave Ellison says:

    The only ones I hadn’t heard of were PEDAL POINT and PENNYROYAL. ELYTRA I knew I had heard of but frustratingly couldn’t bring it to mind; a quick search shows Dec 3 2008 Pasquale, and guess what the clue was!

    PANTS – for what its worth, the first time I heard this usage was by my 12 yr old daughter in 1994. She was at a Scottish school at the time, and I assumed it was schoolyard slang.

  25. Mark H says:

    Hard – Some nice clues, I’d heard of pilaster but hated the clue, I think it’s whats called an indirect homophone, key sounds like quay = pier, horrible!

  26. muck says:

    Thanks for the blog manehi.
    I enjoyed most of this puzzle, with some words new to me.
    Thanks for those who ‘explained’ IN-LAW and OLDE, neither of which I much liked.

  27. muck says:

    Thanks bonxie for the puzzle, which was most entertaining
    My comment turned out more negative I intended

  28. Steve@Salisbury says:

    late response but we really enjoy your daily comments. Re 22ac Surprised no mention of Dr Strabismus (whom God preserve) of Utrecht – from late lamented Beachcomber?


  29. sidey says:

    I always find people’s lists of unknown words fascinating. I’ve installed pilasters, grown pennyroyal, a strabismical bear is a major plot item in an Ed McBain novel and I’m sure pedal point is in Morse.

  30. liz says:

    re Pants. I first heard it used by my teenagers. No idea of the etymology, but it made an appearance in their vocab around the time my son started wearing his jeans low-slung, ie with pants on view…

  31. Jack says:

    Hi sidey #29

    I may be wrong here but I thought ‘Gladly’ the bear to whom I assume you refer was ‘cross-eyed’ as opposed to having a squint (or are these classed as the same condition?)

  32. scarpia says:

    Excellent puzzle with some unusual vocabulary and some clever clueing.Like everyone else I was not convinced with’in law’ but I can forgive that as the rest of the puzzle more than makes up for it.
    Thought 6 down particularly fine.Had to check 25 down in Chambers as I was unfamiliar with the ‘cargo’ definition.
    Two tough puzzles in one day!(See Io in today’s F.T.)

  33. Paul B says:

    Yes yes, that bear. STRABISMUS is defined as ‘a squint’, as is CROSS-EYE. Bonxie off that particular hook I think.

  34. mark says:

    Hated it.

    Indirect homophone and contrary to some comments above I thought there was bad clueing and far too many obscure words reached by obscure parts.


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