Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,557 / Rufus

Posted by Eileen on February 13th, 2012


Not quite so many cryptic definitions this morning, which will please those who don’t like them, but plenty of the characteristic double definitions and some excellent anagrams in this fun puzzle to start the week. Many thanks, Rufus!


1   LEGHORN: double definition: thanks to Giovanna’s timely comment on Thursday on the anglicisation of Livorno, this sprang readily to mind. The chicken gets its name from the port, as the link shows.
5   ANAGRAM: A NAG RAM: this could almost be the theme word for the puzzle!
10  OVER: double definition
11   IRRESOLUTE: anagram [jockey] of SURE TO RILE
12  ALUMNI: anagram [turning out] of MILAN U[university]: a great clue – semi-&lit?
13  IN DEMAND: IN practically wrote itself in when I saw ‘popular’ but no – this time it’s IN = batting + DEMAND [order] and ‘popular’ is the definition
14  APOLOGISE: cryptic definition
16  IDIOT: anagram [when playing] of I DO IT
17  FROTH: anagram [somehow] of FORTH
19  COME CLEAN: COME [arrive] CLEAN [fresh]: I was surprised not to see “Come clean”, as a ‘request for admission’ –  nice definition!] in either Chambers or Collins: perhaps it’s in the newer editions – but surely it’s not a new expression? [Edit: note to self – try looking in the right place! See comment 1.]
23  OVERCAST: OVER [on top of] CAST [the players]
24  CAVITY: IT in CAVY [guinea pig] – something of a calamity for a rodent!
26  BALLPOINTS: cryptic definition
27  TIME: double definition, referring to the pub landlord’s, ‘Time, gentlemen, please’, at closing time
28  ESPYING: E [English] SPYING [work of intelligence]
29  ADULATE: I’m not sure how to define this – a cryptic definition, I suppose: we need to take ‘lavish’ as both adjective and verb but it doesn’t quite work for me, I’m afraid


  ENVELOP: anagram [new] of NOVEL in [breaks] EP [record]
  HAREM: witty cryptic definition: Rufus has used this before to clue ‘seraglio’ – I loved it then and now!
4   RAIDING: AID [some help] in RING [boxing arena]
6   NO-SIDE: double definition: no-side is the end of play in a rugby match
7   GOLD MEDAL: G [note] OLD [ancient] + anagram [badly] of MADE + L [novice]
8   ANTONIO: A + anagram [strange] of NOTION:  Shakespeare’s  Merchant of Venice, who pledged a pound of his flesh as surety for a 3,000-ducat debt to Shylock
9   TRAIN SPOTTING: superb anagram [possible] of STARTING POINT
15  LATERALLY: LATE [in the closing stages] RALLY [recovery] – a nice surface
18  REVEALS: anagram [changes] of SEVERAL
20  EXCUSED: double definition
21  ATTEMPT: AT TEMPT [court, as in to court disaster] – another nice surface
22  MAROON: double definition
25  VITAL: VI [six] + L [fifty] round [at the outside] a reversal [turn up] of AT – a lovely clue to end with

48 Responses to “Guardian 25,557 / Rufus”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, Eileen.

    I enjoyed this one as well. Plenty of anagrams to get you going, but then some nice touches. I too liked HAREM, and LATERALLY was clever. COME CLEAN is in my SOED (but under CLEAN rather than COME)

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks, K’s D – of course! It’s in both Chambers and Collins, too.

  3. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Rufus

    Some tricky bits for me in this typical, enjoyable Rufus puzzle.

    I took ‘come clean’ as meaning ‘to admit’ doing something wrong and the request idea seems to be there if ones tells someone to ‘come clean’.

    I too was puzzled by the logic of ‘adulate’ beyond a pretty straightforward definition.

    I put ‘no-show’ in first for 6d and then had to rethink.

    I ticked 5a, 19a, 26a, 15d, 22d.

    I was a bit slow on tthe ball with Leghorn despite Giovanna’s help.

  4. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu

    “I took ‘come clean’ as meaning ‘to admit’ doing something wrong and the request idea seems to be there if ones tells someone to ‘come clean’.”

    So did I – sorry if it wasn’t clear. 😉

  5. William says:

    Thank you Eileen & Rufus.

    This weekend’s prize was a bit of a flog for me so this was a welcome light relief with, as you say K’s D, some nice touches.

    My neighbour keeps HAMBURG chickens, so I blundered straight in at 1ac. You can imagine how much this complicated the rest of the puzzle until I spotted it!

    BALLPOINTS also took me a silly amount of time…nice clue.

    Good ol’ Rufus.

  6. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    As usual with Rufus puzzles, much went in quickly, but I was left with a handful of clues that took much longer to crack. His clues are terse and tightly constructed, and often well disguised as to their type: is it a cd, a dd or a charade?

    Like Eileen, I remembered Giovanna’s comment about Livorno, so 1a went straight in. Lots of good clues: favourites were 3d, 8d, 9d (what a good anagram). I was also doubtful about 29a, which was one of my last entries for that reason. 26a also took a long time – the usual problem of no initial letter and lots of Scrabble value 1 letters at the crossings.

    I was convinced that 22d was a charade, and was looking for a word with R at either end, until I finally spotted that it was a double def. It is odd that we use the word MAROON to mean a dark unsaturated red when it is from the French ‘marron’, ie ‘chestnut’, which is a different colour. However, such semantic shifts in colour names are not uncommon. The word ‘blue’, which is of Germanic origin, is believed to be cognate with the Latin ‘fulvus’, which means ‘tawny’.

  7. PeterJohnN says:

    Thanks Rufus and Eileen.

    Re 29 IDOLATE, I took the definition to be “to lavish praise”, i.e. lavish is not an adjective in this case.
    Re 9 TRAINSPOTTING, I would have identified the definition as “for the railway enthusiast”. It is important to include the “for”.

  8. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    BALLPOINTS and LEGHORN the last ones in.

    9d I was convinced the anagram involved STATION and started entering TRING STATION, until I discovered a left over P and a T of OVERCAST in the wrong place. It turned out to be a much better clue than that would have been.

  9. Eileen says:


    Re 29ac: you alarmed me for a moment into thinking that I had the wrong solution but it is ADULATE [I just checked]. Interestingly, in view of the associated idolater, idolatry, etc, I can’t find ‘idolate’. I agree that the definition is ‘to lavish praise’ but there must be some reference to the adjectival use of ‘lavish’ otherwise the clue is not at all cryptic.

    Re 9dn: I was very tempted to call this an &lit – but I’m being extra careful these days!

  10. KayOz says:

    Thanks Eileen and Rufus

    This started out seeming pretty easy (for me), but then it got a bit harder. That makes it good fun, I reckon.

    I don’t understand some of the abbreviations in the messages above. I think COD might mean ‘clue of the day’ but I don’t get SOED.

    I liked 19Ac COME CLEAN. And CAVITY 24ac. I had guinea pigs for a short while and my neighbour who was in her 90’s referred to them as Cavies.

    I still do not get the seraglai harem reference at 3dn. Could someone explain it further please?

    Also I don’t like 26ac BALLPOINTS as it doesn’t seem very cryptic to me.

    Oh, and 22dn. Dark red = maroon, but what is the strand reference please.

    I remembered Leghorn from the Leghorn Foghorn, a children’s show I think.

  11. Gervase says:

    KayOz @10: SOED is the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. A ‘sultana’ is the wife of a sultan, so a HAREM might be described as a pound (enclosure) of sultanas. MAROON is ‘strand’ in the verbal sense of ‘leave high and dry’.

  12. Rich says:

    Thanks Eileen & Rufus,

    Re 6D no side for the end of a rugby match was new to me. The best I could come up with was to anagram is done from “‘s finished” with game as an anagrind which was very unsatisfactory.

    Thanks for clearing that one up!

  13. Eileen says:

    Hi KayOz

    Apologies for the obscurities!

    SOED is Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.

    3dn is a play on the double definition of both words in the clue: ‘pound’ – a measure of weight and an enclosure [usually for removed vehicles or stray animals] and sultanas dried fruit or the wives / concubines of sultans.

    22dn: strand is a verb here, meaning to abandon, maroon.

  14. Eileen says:


  15. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. My last two in were BALLPOINTS and LEGHORN. (I obviously wasn’t paying attention to Giovanna!) I also had IDOLATE instead of ADULATE, despite the sneaking suspicion that this wasn’t really a word :-(

    The usual smooth surfaces made this slighter harder than it might have been. And 9dn was a great anagram!

    But I wasn’t quite so happy with the CD at 26ac despite the question mark — I don’t like CDs all that much, to be fair to Rufus!

  16. KayOz says:

    Hi Eileen

    Thank you. Explained really well, and appreciated.

    Cheers K

  17. KayOz says:

    Thanks to Gervase also.

  18. Robi says:

    Good Monday crossword, although BALLPOINTS was the last in and needed a word search before I found it.

    Thanks Eileen; I liked HAREM and the TRAIN SPOTTING/starting point was a brilliant anagram (though surely someone must have used this before??)

    Just to stoke things up again – is 9 an &lit as well as an anagram?

  19. Eileen says:

    Hi Robi

    Please see my Comment 9 – I await Paul B’s adjudication! 😉

  20. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I would have thought that the answer to Robi and your own question must be no. “for the railway enthusiast” isn’t part of the construction of the solution, which is wholly contained in the first part of the clue. Therefore, it’s at best a semi&lit because the whole clue can be seen to form the definition.

  21. PeterJohnN says:

    Eileen, re me @ 7, I started out with IDOLISE, which of course didn’t fit with ATTEMPT, so I changed it to IDOLATE, assuming there was such a verb. However, although “idolater” exists, the verb pertaining thereto turns out to be “idolatrize”. I hadn’t noticed that you had entered a totally different word, ADULATE! Sorry!

    However, if “lavish” were to be taken as an adjective, the solution would have to be ADULATION, surely?

  22. Eileen says:

    Thanks, NeilW @20 – I’m sure you’re right.

    Hi PeterJohnN @21

    “However, if “lavish” were to be taken as an adjective, the solution would have to be ADULATION, surely?”

    Exactly: that’s why I can’t make the clue work! As I said, there is nothing at all cryptic about ‘to lavish praise’ = ADULATE.

  23. Miche says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    I’d say 29a goes in a subcategory which, for want of a better term, I’ll call “straight definition with a hint of misdirection.” Lavish praise might send one looking for a noun when a verb is what’s wanted. But it’s not really a cd. Nor, IMO, is 14a. Either of those could have gone in the Quick without raising eyebrows.

    A pound of sultanas is indeed an excellent clue, and it made me laugh — when Rufus used it in June to clue SERAGLIO. Maybe a bit soon for a return visit. Likewise, those poor old beasts in 5a are surely due a rest.

    KayOz @10 — Foghorn Leghorn was a character in Warner Bros cartoons. They were much played on TV in my childhood, and probably still are.

  24. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Interesting that many, including me, had ‘ballpoints’ as last in.
    It was an example of Rufus at his misdirecting best but sadly much too rare.
    The only thing this crossword exercised was my ballpoint which is not going to help me delay my dementia.

  25. PeterJohnN says:

    BALLPOINTS was one of my last in too. I think it’s because it is a composite word. You are looking for a single word, whereas it’s two words rolled into one.

  26. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog.

    I was disappointed with 26a – thought it so weak it could hardly be called cryptic.
    Similarly 29a was poor.

  27. Paul B says:

    Re 19 and 20 I am of course very happy to be appointed adjudicator. I feel like Muttley with a medal as a result, although I’m sure I’m nowhere near as funny. Or cuddly. Or excused or even loved for my misdeeds. Plus the fact that Neil’s already done the necessary.

    The whole clue *has* to be seen as the definition here (TRAIN SPOTTING is *possibly* a starting point for the railway enthusiast), as ‘railway enthusiast’ alone is in the wrong part of speech. And with the anagram plus indicator very obviously being the whizzing round of cogs bit, the semi &lit die is surely cast.

    In other news, I was vastly tickled by the pound of sultanas, but as others have observed it’s not the first time this compiler has visited the fruit counter. Which repetitious activity, really, is very very very very naughty, but, well, anyway, what can you do.

  28. NeilW says:

    Hi chas. I have to add myself to the list of those needing all the crossers to supply the answer to 26 and, yes, it was the last in. I think as CDs go, it’s not wonderful but good enough.

    I think Miche @23 has it right about 29 – I believe it was tupu who first classified this type of Rufus clue as a “double bluff”.

  29. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Paul B – I knew you could be relied upon.

    I can’t agree with your ‘very very very very naughty’ verdict – I wouldn’t even call it ‘naughty’. On the previous occasion, the clue was for SERAGLIO, not HAREM. And it’s been said before that excellent clues like this deserve a second outing, for the sake of newer solvers who may have missed such gems the first time round. It was Rufus’s own clue – I’m not condoning plagiarism!

  30. NeilW says:

    Paul B is right snd I was wrong – I said “at best” which was stupid, especially given that I first tried to enter TRAIN spotter. :(

  31. Innocent Abroad says:

    [11] No, what used to be kept in harems were slave-girls, not wives. However clearly Rudus isn’t the only one who doesn’t know this. Nor am I convinced that “over” and “about” are synonyms. However, I fouled myself in that corner by deciding 2d was “overlap”. And 9d may be a superb anagram, but it isn’t a superb clue – the definitional refers to the practitioners, the answer to the practice.

    Not, I feel, one of Rufus’s best efforts.

  32. Derek Lazenby says:

    Of course Railway Enthusiasts are in the main not Train Spotters. It’s like saying Prisoners are Serial Killers, just because some Prisoners are indeed Serial killers. Technically, a proper subset is being confused with a proper superset.

    And who needs references in previous crosswords?….

  33. Eileen says:

    Innocent abroad

    “However clearly Rudus isn’t the only one who doesn’t know this.”

    You’re right:
    Chambers: ‘women’s quarters in a Muslim house; a set of wives and concubines’
    Collins: ‘the part of an Oriental house reserved strictly for wives, concubines, etc; a Muslim’s wives and cobncubines collectively’

  34. Rosmarinus says:

    Thanks Rufus and Eileen. I liked HAREM and COME CLEAN. Surely a CAVITY does not necessarily mean tooth loss though.

  35. amulk says:

    I did not really know what to make of this,as I thought that 14, 26, and 29 were pretty weak clues. Thanks to Eileen for her blog and for showing such sensitivity to the feelings of us &lit purists :-). A bit disappointed not to have walked into another controversy though. 😉

  36. John E says:

    Re 6dn, I have never come across the term no side before.

  37. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Rufus and Eileen, as ever.

    I came late to this today and was delighted to see Leghorn and to have helped a few others to remember it. It is usually me that’s after the help!!

    Not being a lover of anagrams, I was ready to mount the high horse when train went in and I was pleased to see that the solution to 9d was Train Spotting rather than train station, which always annoys me. What became of railway station in this country? BTW, I agree with Derek @ 32 on the topic of railway enthusiasts. Maroon, as Rufus’s nautical reference was good, too.

    Giovanna x

  38. Hazza says:

    The only time I ever heard ‘no side’ was from BBC TV’s Scottish rugby commentator Bill McLaren who used to end every game by saying ‘and the referee’s whistle goes for noooooo side’. He probably made it up.

  39. tupu says:

    NeilW @28

    :) Many thanks for thinking of me. I was flattered by your attribution but devastated that it doesn’t seem to be justified. The earliest use of the term ‘double bluff’ in this blog seems to be November 11 2006 by Neil Dubya (yourself?) and I much regret not being able to find an example where I used it. Still perhaps like love, it is better to have ‘gained and lost’ than never to have gained at all.

  40. RCWhiting says:

    Hazza @38
    When I first played rugby, in the mid 50s and a long way away from Scotland, we used the term ‘no side’for the end of the match.
    Although I have never discovered the origin of the phrase, I can only guess that, during the match, every player is either onside or offside at all times. Consequently when the match ends there is no longer any side to be on or off of!

  41. Paul B says:

    No-side is in Chambers and Collins as ‘the end of a game’. Thanks a million, you two. Like RCW I can’t find any source for it, so I’m forced to revert to my own interpretation, which is that after the final whistle, teams or sides are irrelevant: we’re all one again.

  42. tupu says:

    According to OED the term ‘no-side’ appears first in Tom Brown’s Schooldays in 1857 and thus seems likely to be as old as the game of Rugby itself.

  43. Hazza says:

    RCW & Paul B. Both plausible explanations. I just took it to mean that the ref had blown but not fot one side or the other as he’d been doing all game. I’m pretty sure that that’s the way Bill McLaren meant it. I too played rugby in the 50s but never heard the expression. Most times I didn’t hear the whistle either so that means nothing.

  44. Speckled Jim says:

    Half easy and half very tough!

    Not happy with the word ‘some’ in 3d – aid is help, so why ‘some help’? Also ‘most’ in 26a – according to whom are ballpoints the MOST popular writing implements? Surely wrong to claim that unless it’s been enshrined in public knowledge (is that what the Chambers entry on ballpoints says? No)

    Clever anagram in 9d – I didn’t spot it but got the answer just assuming it was a vague cryptic definition.

  45. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu @42 and cholecyst @13 Tuesday

    Apologies for the lack of response. I was quite bemused at the thought of ‘no-side’ being so obscure and provoking so much discussion: I thought that, if I knew it, everyone else surely must!

  46. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen

    As I’m sure you remember, Tom Brown’s Schooldays was set in Rugby School where the author had been a pupil and where, of course, the game was born.

  47. Jan says:

    Eileen @45

    “I was quite bemused at the thought of ‘no-side’ being so obscure and provoking so much discussion: I thought that, if I knew it, everyone else surely must!”

    Nope! I didn’t even write it in because it made no sense. But, then, I’m the only person in the world who hadn’t heard of a world famous footballer and had to Google ‘footballer Lionel’.

  48. John E says:

    Re. my earlier comment (no. 36 above), I finally heard the words ‘no side’ spoken by the referee at the end of this week’s England-Wales match!

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