Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,449 / Rufus

Posted by duncanshiell on October 10th, 2011


A standard Rufus offering for a Monday morning.  The only area that held me up for a short time was the South East corner.

There was the usual mix of double/triple definitons, cryptic definitions and anagrams, with a few examples of other clue types as well.

I note that contributors to another crossword comment site are getting excited over 4 Down and the distinction between INFER and IMPLY, with the majority of those expressing an opinion believing Rufus should have used IMPLIES rather than INFERS as the definition. However, I think there is a distinct possibility that Rufus is acknowledging the issue by using the word ‘incorrect’ in the clue and the whole clue is a tongue in cheek ruse to generate debate.

For those who wish to enter the debate, Chambers Dictionary entry for ALLUDE is:  to convey an indirect reference in passing; to refer without explicit mention, or with suggestion of further associations; to refer.

For IMPLY, Chambers Dictionary has: to express indirectly, to insinuate, to hint; to signify, to mean; to include in reality; to enfold [obsolete]

For INFER, Chambers Dictionary gives: to bring on (Spenser and Shakespeare); to render (Milton); to derive from what has gone before; to arrive at as a logical conclusion, to deduce; to conclude; (usually of a thing or statement) to entail or involve as a consequence, to imply (often condemned as a misuse, but generally accepted for over four centuries)

If we turn to Chambers Thesaurus we have both INFER and IMPLY given as synonyms for ALLUDE, but there is also a further discussion in the Thesaurus under IMPLY as follows: Imply means ‘to suggest or hint at (something) without actually stating it': Are you implying that I’m a liar?   Infer means ‘to form an opinion by reasoning from what you know': I inferred from your silence that you were angry.

Collins Dictionary tends to IMPLY as the better meaning for ALLUDE, but it also talks about the move towards interchangeability of INFER and IMPLY in common speech.  Further, Collins also has a discussion along the lines of that mentioned above in Chambers Thesaurus.

Finally, within my collection of dictionaries at least, the Shorter Oxford is clearly down the IMPLY line when defining ALLUDE, and states that the use of INFER to mean IMPLY is widely considered as incorrect, especially with the person as the subject.

I think that all means that the majority of the population is happy with the interchangeability of INFER and IMPLY, but I doubt if all crossword solvers will be so happy.  

In a manner of cryptic cluing Rufus would have been proud of, PECCAVI [I have sinned] at 20 Down was reputed to be the one word subject of a telegram from General Napier to his superiors when he took SIND [or SINDH] province in the early 1840s. Wikipedia states that the pun was actually a creation of Catherine Winkworth, a contributor to Punch magazine.  There is a fair bit of sinning in this crossword with 9 Across referring to one of the seven deadly sins.

As usual, Rufus has a few nautical references in his clues.


No. Clue Wordplay Entry
1 Create party discord? Yes, as far as I’m concerned (3,2,4) FORM (create) + anagram of (discord) PARTY FOR MY PART (as far as I’m concerned)  ‘Yes’ is a link word I think, but it could be confirming the instruction to ‘form party discord’
6 Occupying a pre-eminent position at work (4) AT + OP (opus; work) ATOP (occupying a pre-eminent position)
8 Hot tip Carol may provide (8) Anagram of (may provide) TIP CAROL TROPICAL (hot)
9 A sin – that’s understood (6) A + GREED (one of the seven deadly sins) AGREED (that’s understood)
10 Father has favourite term of endearment (6) POP (father) + PET (favourite) POPPET (term of endearment)
11 Issue Dad is out to advise against (8) Anagram of (is out) ISSUE DAD DISSUADE (advise againsT
12 Return journey on board jets (6) TRIP (journey) reversed (return) contained in (on board) SS (steamship) with the reference to ‘on board’ also meaning on a ship. SPIRTS (jets)
15 Kitty’s back late – have a very quick check (4,4) POT’S (kitty’s, where in this case, kitty is referring to a pool or fund of money) reversed (back) + DEAD (late) STOP DEAD (brake very quickly; have a very quick check)
16 Break one’s nose, like Gill (8) BREATHER (break); BREATHER (one’s nose) BREATHER (gill [of a fish]) triple definition
19 Drinking a great deal of the best gin cocktail (6) TOP (the best) + an anagram of (cocktail) GIN TOPING (drinking a great deal)
21 Yet he stands at the head of the board (8) CHAIRMAN (a cryptic definition of a man who sits rather than stands) CHAIRMAN (head of the board of a company; one who presides at a meeting)
22 It may be of untold value (6)

SECRET (kept back from the knowledge of others; untold)

SECRET (considered to be of value to the few who know, e.g. a business secret) cryptic definition
24 Help to ensure a ship is on time (6) A + SS (ship) + IS + T (time) ASSIST (help) ‘to ensure’ seems a bit superfluous, but one definition is ‘a play that makes a goal possible’ [ensure a goal?]
25 Guarantee to be careful about wild speech (8) WARY (careful) containing (about) RANT (wild speech) WARRANTY (guarantee)  I find it mildly interesting that both GUARANTEE and WARRANTY contain the word RANT
26 City of Paris? (4) TROY (factual and legendary city in what is now Turkey) TROY (In Greek legends, Paris was an inhabitant of Troy) cryptic definition
27 Band leader in hurry to become a big name (9) First letter B of (leader) BAND contained in (in) CELERITY (rapidity; speed; hurry) CELEBRITY (big name)
1 One half of a Western stage partnership (5) FARGO (half of WELLS FARGO) FARGO (reference the stagecoach company, WELLS FARGO which was one of the biggest in the American West in the 19th century.  Today WELLS FARGO is a multinational financial services company)
2 Decorate from top to bottom, or vice versa (7) REPAPER (the word is a palindrome so can be read from the top down or, vice versa, from the bottom up) REPAPER (decorate)
3 Chay Blyth’s fourth refurbished boat? (5) Anagram of (refurbished) CHAY and the fourth letter (fourth) T of BLYTH YACHT (boat) – Chay Blyth is a famous yachtsman
4 Infers total used is incorrect (7) ALL (total) + an anagram of (incorrect) USED ALLUDES (infers – see discussion above).  Is Rufus recognising that the clue may well generate debate by using the word  ‘incorrect’ in the clue?
5 Entrance for vehicles (9) TRANSPORT (to carry away by strong emotion; to charm, although the dictionary definition seems to go beyond the more simple ‘charm’) TRANSPORT (vehicles) double definition
6 Giving frolicsome dog a run on the beach (7) Anagram of (frolicsome) DOG A RUN AGROUND (on the beach)
7 Too greatly tempted being in the red (9) OVER (too greatly) + DRAWN (enticed; lured; tempted) OVERDRAWN (in the red [at the bank])
13 Sound of contentment about course from consumer (9) PURR (sound of contentment) containing (about) CHASE ([steeplechase] course) PURCHASER (consumer; Chambers Thesaurus gives the two words as synonymous)
14 Catechism arranged according to plan (9) Anagram of (arranged) CATECHISM SCHEMATIC (plan) ‘according to’ seems to act as a link
17 Nimbleness of soldier in Italy on manoeuvres (7) Anagram of (on manoeuvres) ITALY containing GI ([American] soldier) AGILITY (nimbleness)
18 Restoration novel in authentic setting (7) NEW (novel) contained in (in … setting) REAL (authentic) RENEWAL (restoration)
20 Classical admission of guilt (7) PECCAVI (a Latin or classical word) PECCAVI (I have sinned; admission of guilt) cryptic definition
22 Scour the outback (5) SCRUB (scour) SCRUB (bush country far from civilisation, a definition of the Australian outback) double definition
23 Record-making competitor (5) ENTRY (something recorded in writing; something that is record-making) ENTRY (a person entered for a competition; competitor) double definition

35 Responses to “Guardian 25,449 / Rufus”

  1. MarionH says:

    Thanks to Rufus and Duncan for this.

    21ac was my COD, and yes, I slowed down at the SE corner too.

    My only caveat: I took the word “course” in 17d to be the verb, meaning “to use dogs to chase rabbits or hares as a sport” (MacMillan), which seemed tidier than the ‘steeplechase’ reading.

  2. Eileen says:

    Well, Duncan, you’ve certainly done your best to pre-empt the pedantic outcry that 5dn might have produced! Thanks for your exhaustive dictionary research and for the blog.

    Just before I had an apoplexy myself, amazed that Rufus should make such a mistake, I saw again the last two words of the clue and reached the same conclusion as yourself. I can just imagine Rufus’ smile as he set the cat among the pigeons!

    Favourite clue: 3dn.

    In 14dn, I took the definition as being ‘according to plan’, as SCHEMATIC can be both a noun and an adjective.

    Thanks for the puzzle, Rufus. 😉

  3. tupu says:

    Thanks Duncan and Rufus

    A very thorough blog! I took schematic as Eileen did.

    Thanks for the Napier pun! Very nice.

    I found some of the west side harder for some reason and it took a few minutes to think myself from ordinary English into Rufusish.

    1 liked 1a, 6a, 9a, 15a, 27a, 5d and 13d.

    I generally prefer to keep imply and infer separate but I think (hope) you have let the air out of that one pretty thoroughly.

  4. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Many thanks, Duncan, for your usual comprehensive blog.

    There were one or two I wasn’t so keen on today, but overall an enjoyable Monday morning stroll with Rufus. Some excellent surface readings, I thought.

    I too maintain the distinction between ‘infer’ and ‘imply’, but try not to get too apoplectic when others don’t. As Duncan’s look in the dictionaries shows, the argument’s been going on a long time.

  5. Median says:

    Slightly easier than some from Rufus, I thought. The SE corner held me up for a bit too, partly because my first answer for 22d was BRUSH, rather than SCRUB.

  6. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    I thought 4d was beautifully allusive,the only beauty herein.

  7. scchua says:

    Thanks Duncan, and Rufus. As you say, a standard Rufus to be enjoyed.

    Like the majority (so far), I also think of “imply” and “infer” as having separate distinct meanings, whilst “allude” is wide enough to cover both partially.

  8. cholecyst says:

    Thanks Duncan, and Rufus. Personally, if I want to make my meaning as clear as possible to as many people as possible, I avoid the infer/imply, expect/anticipate pairs and also disinterested and enormity.

  9. RCWhiting says:

    “……..if I want to make my meaning as clear as possible to as many people as possible…..” you wouldn’t set a cryptic crossword.

  10. Paul B says:

    Afrit’s Injunction, on the other hand, states very clearly what setters ought to do.

    At 4D, we have ‘Infers total used is incorrect': is that surface *really* doing enough for us to infer that R is acknowledging some debate? Hmmm. Nonetheless, both ‘imply’ and ‘infer’ feature in the Chambers 21st Century Dictionary Online Thesaurus (which I use fairly frequently) under the relevant headword. Fowler is much better on the distinction.

    Fowler looks great on my coffee-table, and is intended to make me look clever when in fact I know pretty much sod-all about English.

  11. liz says:

    Thanks duncanshiell. And hi to all! Just back from a lovely blustery week walking in Northumberland, along a favourite stretch of coast.

    Enjoyable Rufus today, with the usual good surfaces. I particularly liked 1ac and the triple def at 16ac.

  12. chas says:

    Thanks to Duncan for the blog.

    I agree with MarionH @1 i.e. using course as a verb naturally leads to chase.
    I would say that clue is 13d.

  13. Strawberry Flann says:

    For my part poppet, I can only allude to the overdrawn spirit of agility required to solve this. A re: paper purchaser secretly viewing this schematic, would need a breather I warrant. Let me assist if you have been stopped dead, or if your yacht has run aground on your entry to tropical Troy. Dont lose spirit!.

  14. Robi says:

    Thanks Rufus and Duncan for his usual, comprehensive blog. I think we had the infer/imply debate previously.

    SPIRTS looked wrong; I see in my ODE that it gives this as an ‘old-fashioned spelling of spurts.’ My spurts of energy are always thus.

    I didn’t know PECCAVI, but liked Duncan’s tale about Napier.

  15. Robi says:

    Nice one, Strawberry Flann – last time I made a shaggy dog story from the crossword, it was a bit of a FARraGO and went down like a lead balloon with the other posters.

  16. Strawberry Flann says:

    Hey Robi, nice to know there are people out there with a sense of humour, let’s hear more quirkiness!

  17. freda says:

    Excuse my nosiness, Duncan, but what is the other site you refer to in your preamble?
    For what it’s worth, Rufus used the controversial clue in the Telegraph on March 7th this year.

  18. Derek Lazenby says:

    Let’s see if I’ve understood the meaning….

    PECCAVI, I used a word list generator because my school days were spent doing more useful things like making bangs and stinks (when one wasn’t behind the bicycle shed!).

  19. duncanshiell says:

    Thanks to everyone for the comments on the blog. I have just returned from a golf course that was dry overhead but exceptionally wet underfoot and now have time to study the comments.

    MarionH @ 1, chas @ 12, I agree that I have not used the right association between ‘course’ and ‘chase’. I didn’t see the correct entry in Chambers this morning, but I do now.

    Eileen @ 2, tupu @ 3, I also see now that SCHEMATIC is defined as an adjective, but I have to admit that I don’t like it as an adjective in the way that the clue suggests. However, if I accept the inevitable interchangeability of IMPLY and INFER on the grounds that the dictionaries go along with it, then I’ll have to go along with SCHEMATIC defined as ‘according to plan’.

    Freda @ 17, I was referring to the on-line discussion on the crossword section of the Guardian’s own web site. The subject of the postings on that site range far beyond the crossword of the day and a number of them would fall foul of the posting protocols that are generally observed on Fifteensquared. However, one of the joys of the internet is that it provides a forum for a very wide range of comments and opinions. There are many contributors to the Guardian site. A number of the contributors to the Guardian site make it very clear that they wouldn’t dream of posting on Fifteensquared, even though some of them also admit to taking a look here every so often to check on complex parsing. Some people contribute comments to both sites. You will find that comments on The Guardian site start to appear within minutes of the crossword going live with contributions from solvers all round the world. There are, of course, lots of other crossword web sites giving differing levels of attention to comments, biographies of setters, aids and tools in book or software form and erudite discussions on grid and clue construcA number of blog sites focus on specific crosswords, while others like Fifteensquared cover a range. Each site has its own flavour; some you will enjoy, some you may not. Do a search for ‘crossword blogs’ for instance and see what you get. I make no comment on the merits or otherwise of each site. Everyone will have their own views on which sites they like to read.

  20. MikeC says:

    Thanks Duncan and Rufus. While I agree with others that this is not a particularly difficult crossword, I do think that it has some neat, varied wordplay and wonderfully smooth, economical clues. I usually enjoy Rufus (except when there are too many cds) but this one was more entertaining than most. 3, 14 and 15 stood out for me, with 16 as surely one of the most concise triple definitions we are likely to see.

  21. amulk says:

    I think that must be the best blog I’ve ever seen. The puzzle itself had some weak clues in my opinion (21ac; 22ac; 26ac, which was hardly cryptic at all.), but nevertheless enjoyable. I must say that before I read the blog I too was not too convinced by 4dn. I am not sure I am now, but at least there is some justification.

  22. DavidW says:

    I think 4D would have been better as “Refers to total used being incorrect”.

  23. Splodger says:

    22a Anyhting to do with magpies? “Seven for a secret never to be told”?

  24. duncan says:

    can’t see the other comments as I’m on the tube with my iphone, but in re “allude”, “refer”, “imply”, “infer”- I don’t understand any of these words to be synonymous. each has a distinct meaning. I always understood “allude” to mean the act of suggestion through metaphor, as with idioms. thus, to say that one shouldn’t put all of one’s eggs in the same basket does not directly refer, imply or infer, but rather alludes to a hypothetical scenario with some common aspects to whatever is the current topic (& in my example, this would be of lack of caution).
    make sense?

  25. RCWhiting says:

    Perhaps Duncan, you prefer ‘in the red’ for ‘overdrawn’, really allusive. You would never guess that without the cryptic.

  26. duncan says:

    I would agree that “in the red” is, these days, allusory.
    once it might have literally (rather than figuratively, pun intended!) referred to one’s accounts being written in red ink to signify debt, but these days bank statements & the like tend to be printed or displayed in black on white. red’s difficult to photocopy, I understand.
    anyway, my understanding of “allude” came directly from an old book I have, “the (something) book of english idioms”. I can’t find it, nor can I remember the publisher. but each explanation of a phrase told the reader to what it alluded; the distinction in my mind was that the idiom was of a metaphorical & not literal nature.
    besides, I like the idea that these four words (& more) have their own distinct meanings. makes them more useful, I think.


  27. Davy says:

    Thanks Duncan,

    It seems that whatever Rufus comes up with, it’s always a gentle stroll to some commenters. PECCAVI was the one answer I didn’t get and with the letters P_C_A_I one might spend ages trying to come up with a word (Find and Fit notwithstanding). Should I know this word or is my life bereft of a classical education ?. It would seem so as most people seem to know this word (too many seems it would seem). Yes I have sinned but I simply do not know this word. Have I been found out ?.

  28. caretman says:

    Thanks, duncanshiell, for the blog and the discussion of ‘infer’ vs. ‘imply’.

    I, too, distinguish the two and wish they could maintain their distinct meaning. I am reminded of an old Nero Wolfe mystery novel which opens with Nero Wolfe, a word lover, tearing pages out of a new dictionary he had just purchased and feeding them into a fire. When a visitor asks him why he is doing that, he replies, “Do you use ‘infer’ and ‘imply’ interchangeably?” His new dictionary countenanced outrages such as that and he was purging it of its offending pages.

  29. caretman says:

    And since I had to figure out what the novel was, it was Gambit, published in 1962. The scene is introduced thus:

    Mr. Wolfe is in the middle of a fit. It’s complicated. There’s a fireplace in the front room, but it’s never lit because he hates open fires. He says they stultify mental processes. But it’s lit now because he’s using it. He’s seated in front of it, on a chair too small for him, tearing sheets out of a book and burning them. The book is the new edition, the third edition, of Webster’s New International Dictionary, Unabridged, published by the G. & C. Merriam Company of Springfield, Massachusetts. He considers it subversive because it threatens the integrity of the English language. In the past week he has given me a thousand examples of its crimes. He says it is a deliberate attempt to murder the — I beg your pardon. I describe the situation at length because he told me to bring you in there, and it will be bad.

  30. Paul B says:

    The Scarlet Pimpernel was really allusive, as I recall.

  31. RCWhiting says:

    I am assuming that cannot be serious.

  32. Rishi says:

    I first encountered the word ‘peccavi’ in college sometime in mid-Sixties. I think it was in John Webster’s play, The Duchess of Malfi, though my memory is fading now and the book is in a carton on the loft.

    (If anyone can confirm my remembrance, I will pat myself on the back.)

    in Madras that is Chennai, India

  33. Rishi says:

    Sorry for not closing the html tag.

  34. Davy says:

    Just a late comment regarding the ‘imply/infer/allude/refer’ debate. I do not like slovenly speech and these words definitely have four separate meanings.
    The point is that people misuse words and if enough people do so, then over time, the wrong usage will become a sub or sometimes main definition in the dictionary. An example would be the word ‘sophisticate’ which originally meant ‘to spoil the natural beauty or purity of’ and we all know what it means now.

    I once heard somebody say ‘he was very expertise in computers’. I inwardly shuddered but did not correct the person.

  35. Resources says:

    Hi there, the whole thing is going perfectly here and ofcourse
    every one is sharing data, that’s really fine, keep up writing.

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