Big Dave’s Little Guide to Cryptic Crosswords

Glossary / Index
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Some terms used in crossword reviews << Back to Contents

Term Definition
See also Section
&lit see all-in-one all-in-one Clue types
abbreviation part of a word used instead of the whole abbreviation Miscellaneous constructs
across-clue construct a construct that only works when used with an across clue across-clue construct Miscellaneous constructs
all-in-one a clue which describes the answer, but has the wordplay hidden inside all-in-one Clue types
alliteration the repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of several words in close succession alliteration Miscellaneous constructs
anagram a word or phrase formed by the letters of another word or phrase, but in a different order anagram Clue types
Chambers or more precisely The Chambers Dictionary 11th Edition: almost all words found in Telegraph crosswords, other than proper nouns, are defined in this dictionary.
charade a clue, resembling the parlour game charades, in which the answer is achieved by combining a series of parts, where each part contains one or more letters charade Clue types
checking letters sometimes called crossing letters, these are the letters in an answer that appear in intersecting answers: they are the key to any crossword.
clue reference a number in a clue which is an indication that the answer to the specified clue be inserted into the wordplay clue reference Miscellaneous constructs
Cockney Cockneys from the East End of London are notorious for dropping the leading aitches of words Cockney and East End Miscellaneous constructs
combination clue a clue in which two or more different constructs are used combination clue Clue types
compiler see setter
complex clue see combination clue combination clue Clue types
constant a constant value used in a well-known formula constant Miscellaneous constructs
construct a single element of the wordplay, such as an anagram or a reversal: many constructs will be signalled by an indicator (see also indicator and wordplay).
container that part of the wordplay into which the contents are to be inserted insertion Clue types
contents that part of the wordplay which is to be inserted into the container insertion Clue types
crossing letters see checking letters.
cryptic clue a clue in which the answer is hidden or mysteriously obscure cryptic clue Clue types
cryptic definition a clue that appears to mean one thing, but when read differently means something else cryptic definition Clue types
definition that part of a clue that defines the answer cryptic clue Clue types
deletion a clue in which one or more letters are to be deleted deletion Clue types
double definition a clue which has two definitions of the same answer double definition Clue types
double unch two consecutive unchecked letters: they are an accepted part of crossword grids although too many of them in the same grid are regarded as an unfair, particularly if the associated wordplay is imprecise.
down-clue construct a construct that only works when used with a down clue down-clue-construct Miscellaneous constructs
East End see Cockney Cockney and East End Miscellaneous constructs
even letters a clue in which the even letters are to be taken from one or more words even and odd letters Clue types
final letters a clue in which the last letters of a number of consecutive words are to be taken initial and final letters Clue types
fodder the collection of letters from which an anagram is to be constructed
hidden word a clue in which the answer is hidden within one or more words hidden word Clue types
homonym a word having the same spelling, and perhaps the same sound, as another but a different meaning cryptic definition Clue types
homophone a word that is pronounced the same as another but is different in spelling and meaning homophone Clue types
indicator sometimes called a trigger, this is a word or words in a clue that indicate the presence of a particular construct.
indirect anagram an anagram of a word or words that are not actually in the clue, this is usually considered to be an unfair construct
initial letters a clue in which the first letters of a number of consecutive words are to be taken initial and final letters Clue types
insertion a clue in which one or more letters are to be inserted insertion Clue types
literary allusion a clue which alludes to a famous literary quotation, or perhaps a famous person in literature literary allusion Miscellaneous constructs
misdirection The deliberate use of words that usually indicate a particular type of construct, such as an anagram, in a different context, often as part of the definition one of the examples of double definition Clue types
odd letters a clue in which the odd letters are to be taken from one or more words even and odd letters Clue types
other constructs there are too many constructs to list in a small guide, but some of them are outlined in the referenced paragraph other constructs Miscellaneous constructs
palindrome a word or phrase that can be read the same way in either direction. palindrome Miscellaneous constructs
pun a play on words which are alike or nearly alike in sound but different in meaning cryptic definition Clue types
punctuation usually included to improve the surface reading and should be ignored, but occasionally forms an essential part of the wordplay punctuation Miscellaneous constructs
reversal a clue in which the answer is derived by reversing all or part of the wordplay reversal Clue types
Roman numerals the Romans used letters to represent numerals Roman numerals Miscellaneous constructs
semordnilap this word (palindromes spelt backwards) has been coined for a word or phrase which can be reversed to get a different word or phrase reversal Clue types
setter sometimes called the compiler, this is the person who compiles, constructs or sets the crossword.
subsidiary indication that part of the clue which leads to the definition (see also wordplay) cryptic clue Clue types
subtraction see deletion deletion Clue types
surface reading the way that the setter intends that the clue be read: the best clues either lead the solver in the wrong direction, or sometimes in no direction at all.
trigger see indicator
unchecked letters the letters in a clue that do not appear in intersecting answers (see also double unch).
unknown the algebraic unknowns x, y or z unknown Miscellaneous constructs
visual a description that can represent one or more letters visual Miscellaneous constructs
wordplay the unravelling of a cryptic clue by the resolution of one or more constructs cryptic clue Clue types
word-sum see charade charade Clue types
Ximenes the pseudonym of Derrick Somerset Macnutt who set out the Ximenean principles, detailed guidelines for setting fair cryptic clues cryptic clue Clue types
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