Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,542 – Araucaria

Posted by Andrew on January 26th, 2012


There’s a straightforward theme to this puzzle, with a number of clues leading to examples of the word at 12ac. Some of them are probably a bit obscure, though I think I have come across them all before, albeit perhaps only in crosswords.

I thought this wasn’t one of Araucaria’s best efforts: there are several examples of a type of clue I find rather unsatisfactory (14ac, 22ac and 18dn), weak clueing at 6,2dn, and a few other liberties; and nothing that particularly took my fancy. No doubt some fans may disagree…

7. SQUIRREL R (one side) in SQUIRE (“address to man”) + L (the other side)
9. TONGUE Hidden in tonighT ON GUEst. “List” is superfluous, and “for” isn’t much of a hidden indicator
11. GO TO GROUND OG in GOT ROUND (“managed to persuade”). Tír na nÓg is the heavenly “Land of the Young” in Irish mythology, and OG is the “young” part of the name.
12. RODENT DEN in ROT. A nice easy one for the theme word.
14. SHANGHAI A kind of definition-and-a-half, of which there are several is this puzzle. Shanghaiing was a practice of tricking or coercing men to work on ships, as in the press gang.
15. SEESAW A proverb in the diocese could be a SEE SAW
17. BEAVER Double definition
20. CAPYBARA CAP (limit) + reverse of ARABY. The Capybara is the largest living rodent.
22. GENEVA Another definition and-a-half : Hollands and Geneva are a type of gin, and Geneva is in Switzerland
24,10. MOLE RATS MOLE (spy or infiltrator) + RATS (other rodents). Rather lazy clueing of the RATS part, I think
25. STREET SETTER*, and reference to the expressions “street-wise” and “street cred”
26. TWITCHER WITCH (sorcerer) “in TER”. I don’t like this device, though I know many others have no objections to it or even like it
1. SQUAMOUS S[cales] + QUA (as) + MOUS[e]. Squamous means “having scales”, from the Latin “squama”
4. STAGNATE STAG (party) + ETNA*
6,2. GUINEA PIGS A piggy bank for old money would be a GUINEA PIG
8. LATEST L.A. (Los Angeles) + TEST (international match, e.g. in cricket)
16. AMARANTH RANT in AMAH. The Amaranth was noted in antiquity for its long-lasting flower – the name means “unfading” or “undying”.
18. REVOLVER Another (rather obvious) definition-and-a-half, referring to the Beatles album of 1966.
19. MARMOT MAR (spoil) + MOT (test)
21. AGOUTI A GOUT (complaint) + I
22. GERBIL Reverse of LIBRE G
24. MICE M (number) + ICE (diamonds)

26 Responses to “Guardian 25,542 – Araucaria”

  1. andy smith says:

    Thank you for the blog Andrew, helpful as usual. I had to guess 16d from reverse dictionary and couldn’t parse it all, thanks for the (retrospectively obvious) explanation.

    FWIW I enjoyed the puzzle, didn’t mind the “1 and a half” definitions – quite liked them – read them as cds, and thought 24,10 was fine – but I’m an amateur solver.

  2. scchua says:

    Thanks Andrew and Araucaria.

    If by “not one of Aracaria’s best”, you mean not the most difficult he can get, I agree. But the theme, once easily obtained made it, that more accessible. As a result, I enjoyed the puzzle.

    I think in 9A TONGUE, that “list” is the hidden answer indicator.

  3. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew. Agree with scchua about “list,” although I also agree that you might be right!

    I think some folk may be a little confused by your typo in the answer to 4.

  4. Andrew says:

    Thanks Neil, confusing typo corrected.

    I wondered about “list” as the hidden indicator in 9a, but I can’t really see how it makes sense as one.

  5. scchua says:

    “List” as a verb – ie. the words “tonight on guest” list the answer.

  6. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew. I agree. The theme was good but too accessible, via the easy 12a. 18d was awful. 11a no trouble to get, in practical terms impossible to parse. But I’m a fan, and was happy with this.

  7. Roger says:

    At 15a: S(EES)AW … Proverb in(side of which is) the diocese about … if you see the way I saw it !

  8. blaise says:

    Amaranthus caudatus has the common name love-lies-bleeding. Stunning plant, but self-seeds like mad.

  9. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    I couldn’t see the theme for a while (MARMOT did it for me), but thereafter it all fell out nicely. Lots of characteristic Araucarian devices, which made this, for me, one of his most enjoyable puzzles for a long time. Favourite clue: 13d, for its construction and imagery!

    11a took some time – although I spotted the possible reference to Tir na nÓg as soon as I saw the clue, I had forgotten the peculiarities of Gaelic word morphology and tried for a while to insert ‘nog’ into something suitable.

    I interpreted ‘list’ as the container indicator in 9a, which was my last entry (put in with a groan). Two consecutive puzzles with clever container clues.

  10. Gervase says:

    As well as ornamental plants, several species of the AMARANTH genus are cultivated for their edible leaves and seed. The latter (like buckwheat and quinoa – also from members of the family Amaranthaceae, incidentally) is a non-grass ‘cereal’, so suitable for those with a gluten allergy. It was a staple foodstuff for the Incas.

  11. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Araucaria

    I got stuck for a time on capybara trying to find the right *a* start to it.

    I also had to check ‘og’ though the answer was clear enough.

    I quite liked 7a, 25a, 1d, 5d, 6d and found the whole thing enjoyable enough though not stunningly so.

  12. otter says:

    I thought the ‘others’ of 24,10 referred to ‘infiltrators’ (an infiltrator, or at least a traitor, could be called a ‘rat’) rather than ‘rodents’.

    I was lucky in that I managed to get 12 first of all, which helped a lot.

  13. chas says:

    Thanks to Andrew for the blog. I got the right answer for 12a but utterly failed to parse it.

    I also found that 19d gave me the theme. Once I had that I saw 12 pretty quickly.

    As for the ‘definition-and-a-half’ clues I was quite happy with them, perhaps because I spotted them quickly.

    My last in (groan) was 9a: I did not read ‘list’ as a hidden indicator. I just happened to be looking at the clue when it leapt out at me.

  14. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    “enjoyable enough though not stunningly so.”

    Thanks tupu, my thought exactly.

    I like the ‘geneva’ etc clues because they stretch one’s lateral thinking ability; there’s no easy way in.
    I,also, started at ‘marmot’ and leaped instantly to 12.

  15. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    “enjoyable enough though not stunningly so.”

    Thanks tupu, my thought exactly.

    I liked the ‘geneva’ etc clues because they stretch one’s lateral thinking ability; there’s no easy way in.
    I,also, started at ‘marmot’ and leaped instantly to 12.

  16. RCWhiting says:

    Sorry, no idea why that happened.

  17. Nick says:

    I struggled with 11ac, never having met Og: I have however brewed beer. So OG is the Original Gravity of (in this case) Guinness – the Irish (idea) of heaven. Thoroughly ingenious I thought.

  18. Robi says:

    12 not immediately obvious to me; got it via MICE.

    Thanks, Andrew; I thought it was reasonably enjoyable, although ‘og’ was unknown (and always will be!) Couldn’t parse AMARANTH, either. I think AMAH must be a crosswordland special.

  19. chas says:

    I have read about amah: when British people in India had a local nursemaid for the children she was called an amah.

  20. scchua says:

    Re amah, for awhile I was looking for aya____h, ayah also being a nurse with a Latin then Portuguese then Hindi origin, whilst amah is from Latin then Portuguese origin.

  21. NeilW says:

    Amah was, I think, more generalised in colonial times than just India.

    Interestingly, since they have no British connection worth talking about, in the Philippines these ladies are know as Yayahs, presumably through the Spanish rather than Portugese.

  22. Gervase says:

    More on 11a:

    The Irish word for ‘young’ is ‘óg’. Like other Celtic languages, Irish shows initial mutation of word sounds in certain situations – just as the Welsh name for Wales is ‘Cymru’, but ‘Welcome to Wales’ is Croeso i Gymru’ and ‘in Wales’ is ‘yng Nghymru’).

    To express the genitive plural of a definite noun in Irish, you use the plural definite article ‘na’ and the following noun has the mutation known as eclipsis. This converts unvoiced stop consonants to voiced stops, voiced stops to nasal consonants, and initial vowels attract an n. A peculiarity of Irish orthography is that a proper noun starting with a vowel which is subject to this mutation retains its original capital letter, although this is no longer word initial.

    Thus ‘Land of the Young (Ones)’ is Tir na nÓg. (Note that the genitive plural of óg is the same as the singular).

  23. buddy says:

    Yes, thank you, Andrew.

    I think we got the message that you didn’t like this puzzle.

    For me there was no problem with the clues: it was the answers that caused me some concern.

    Despite Lincolnshire’s reputation for exotic, luxuriant vocabulary, Capybara, Agouti and Amah have all passed me by – and even Squamous has only acknowledged me shyly from across a crowded room.

  24. Robi says:

    Crikey, Gervase @22; it all sounds Irish to me!

  25. Median says:

    This was an odd one for me. I got the theme easily enough and completed three-quarters of the puzzle without any help. However, I just couldn’t get into the SW corner at all before I ran out of patience. My favourite clue – once I’d seen the solution – was 13d. I knew ETHER had to be in there somewhere, so I was toying with EITHER, but it just wouldn’t come!

  26. CynicCure says:

    Could I just point out that, as all of us who are avid guinea pig owners (OK, just me then?) will know, there is much debate as to whether guinea pigs are rodents. At the moment I believe the weight of opinion is that they are not. (Google ‘guinea pig rodent’ and wade through the many conflicting articles.) In any case, they are a cut above your average mouse or gerbil and don’t take kindly to being lumped in with such hoi polloi!

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