The Usual Suspects

A collection of elements commonly used in the wordplay of cryptic crosswords.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive and does not, for example, include:

  • chemical symbols such as AG for silver or FE for iron (see Chemical Elements),
  • cricketing terms such as BAT for cricketer or ON for leg (see Cricketing Terms and Abbreviations),
  • French words such as DE for of and LE for the (see French Words),
  • heraldic terms such as OR for gold or SABLE for jet/black (page of Heraldic Terms coming soon),
  • Latin abbreviations such as R for take/recipe (page of Latin words and abbreviations coming soon),
  • IVR codes such as CH for Switzerland or E for Spain (see Countries – Capitals Cities and IVR Codes),
  • musical terms such as P for quiet/soft or F for loud (see Musical Terms),
  • regular abbreviations such as I for island or O for old; multiple abbreviations, such as NN for news, are included,
  • word elements greater than four letters in length.
Word in the clue Word element in the answer
a / an PER (as in tuppence a/per pound, penny an/per ounce)
abstainer TT (Teetotaller)
actors CAST
airman AC (aircraftsman); LAC (leading aircraftsman); PO (pilot Officer)
airmen RAF (Royal Air Force)
alien ET (Extra-Terrestrial – movie)
ambassador HE (His Excellency)
American soldier(s) see soldier(s)
ancient city see old city
Anglican(s) CE (Church of England)
any number see number
article A, AN (indefinite articles); THE (definite article)
artist RA (Royal Academician)
at home see home
at university UP
banker name of a river, e.g. CAM, DEE, DON, PO; see also flower and runner
bearing E, N, S, W (compass bearings)
beer ALE
bible AV (Authorised Version aka the King James Bible); RV (Revised Version)
bill A/C (account); ACT (legal); TAB (tabulation)
bird any one of the many species of bird, including, but not limited to, AUK, EMU, JAY, OWL, TIT, CROW, DOVE, ERNE, GULL. HAWK, KIWI, KNOT, LARK, MINA, MYNA, RAIL, RHEA, ROOK, RUFF, SKUA, SWAN, TERN & WREN; TIME (in prison / Cockney rhyming slang bird lime)
bishop B (chess notation); RR (Right Reverend)
blood group(s) A, AB, B, O
book(s) ACTS (book in the New Testament); EDDA (Scandinavian book); NT (New Testament); OT (Old Testament); VEDA (Hindu scripture)
broadcaster BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation); RTE (Radio Telefis Éireann); SKY
by X (as in 2 by 3 ≡ 2 x 3)
cardinal HE (His Eminence)
century C (one hundred in Roman numerals); TON
chessman / man on board B (bishop); K (king); N (knight); P (pawn); Q (queen); R (rook)
chimney LUM
china MATE (Cockney rhyming slang china plate); PAL
church CE (Church of England); RC (Roman Catholic church)
cigarette FAG; TAB
city EC (postcode of the City of London); ELY
cleaner CHAR (charlady, charwoman)
closed TO (as in “he pulled the door to behind him”)
communist RED
companion CH (Companion of Honour)
concerning RE
conservationist(s) NT (National Trust)
constant C (mathematical constant); G (gravitational constant); K (Boltzmann constant)
copper PC (Police Constable)
corporation TUM (stomach)
criminal CON (convict); LAG
currency name of a river, e.g. CAM, DEE, PO
current I (symbol for electric current); AC (alternating current); DC (direct current)
debt(s) IOU(S)
deliveries OVER (cricket)
detective DC (Detective Constable); DI (Detective Inspector); DS (Detective Sergeant); PI (Private Investigator)
detectives CID (Criminal Investigation Department)
dictionary OED (Oxford English Dictionary)
doctor GP (General Practitioner); MB (Medicinae Baccalaureus / Bachelor of Medicine); MD (Medicinae Doctor / Doctor of Medicine); MO (Medical Officer); NO (Doctor No – movie); VET (veterinary surgeon); WHO (Doctor Who – TV program)
doughboy GI (American soldier)
drug E (ecstasy); C (cocaine); H (heroin)
economists LSE (London School of Economics)
Edward – King ER (Edwardus Rex, King Edward)
Edward – King and Emperor ERI (Edwardus Rex Imperator, Edward, King and Emperor)
Elizabeth – Queen ER (Elizabeth Regina, Queen Elizabeth)
(the) enemy TIME
engineer(s) RE (Royal Engineers); REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers)
exercise PE (Physical Exercise); PT (Physical Training)
expert ACE, DAB, PRO
fashion CUT; FAD; TON
fashionable IN; HIP
favourite PET (as in teacher’s pet)
feathers DOWN
fifty L (fifty in Roman numerals)
fighter MIG (Soviet Russian fighter aircraft)
fish ID, LING etc.
five V (five in roman numerals)
five hundred D (five hundred in roman numerals)
flag IRIS (plant)
flier/flyer name of a bird, e.g. TIT, WREN
fliers RAF (Royal Air Force)
flower name of a river; see also banker
fool ASS; CLOT, NIT; TWIT
footballers FA (Football Association)
former husband see former partner
former partner / former husband / former wife EX
former taxman see taxman
former volunteer(s) see volunteer(s)
former wife see former partner
Frenchman EMIL; FROG; RENÉ
gangster AL (Al Capone)
George – King GR (Georgius Rex, King George)
George – King and Emperor GRI (Georgius Rex Imperator, George, King and Emperor)
German article DER (German definite article)
good man S, ST (Saint)
graduate BA (Bachelor of Arts); BSC (Bachelor of Science); MA (Master of Arts)
gunner(s) RA (Royal Artillery)
hand(s) L (left) and/or R (right); E (East), N (North), S (South) and W (West) – (bridge hands)
hat TILE
heather LING
home / at home IN
home counties SE (South-East England)
honour A, J, K, Q (honours in bridge); CBE, CH, MBE, OBE (honours / awards)
hooligan / old hooligan TED (Teddy boy)
hospital SAN (sanatorium)
hospital department ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat, a specialized field of medicine)
hundred C (one hundred in Roman numerals); TON
indefinite number see number
island / isle IONA; IOW (Isle of Wight); MAN (Isle of Man)
Italian article IL (Italian definite article)
Japanese drama NOH ( traditional Japanese masked drama with dance and song)
jolly RM (Royal Marine)
journalist ED (editor); HACK
judge REF (referee)
king HM (His Majesty); LEAR (King Lear – Shakespeare); see also “Edward – King”, “Edward – King and Emperor”, “George – King” and “George – King and Emperor”
learner L (from the L-plate carried by learner drivers)
local BAR; INN; PH (Public House); PUB
London police MET (the Met, Metropolitan Police Service)
love O (a score of zero in tennis)
low MOO (sound made by cattle)
man on board see chessman
many C (one hundred in roman numerals); D (five hundred in roman numerals); K (Kilo – metric prefix for a thousand); L (fifty in roman numerals); M (one thousand in roman numerals)
measure / printer’s measure / space EM or EN (a unit of measurement equal to the width of the lower-case letter ‘m’ or ‘n’ in 12-point)
medic MD (Medicinae Doctor / Doctor of Medicine); MO (Medical Officer)
member ARM; LEG; MP (Member of Parliament)
military group / political group NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
miners NUM (National Union of Mineworkers)
motorists AA (Automobile Association); RAC (Royal Automobile Club)
motorway MI
Newcastle area NE (North-East England)
news NN (N[ew] + N[ew])
newspaper FT (Financial Times; RAG (low quality newspaper)
nil O (a score of zero in football)
note A, B, C, D, E, F, G (notes of the diatonic scale); DO, DOH, FA, FAH, LA, LAH, ME, MI, RAY, RE, SI, SO, SOH, SOL, TE, TI, UT (notes of the scale in sol-fa notation); MEMO; PS (PostScript)
notice AD (advertisement)
number / any number / indefinite number N (used in mathematical formulae)
nurse EN (Enrolled Nurse); SEN (State Enrolled Nurse – obsolescent); SRN (State Registered Nurse – obsolescent);
old EX
old city UR (an ancient Sumerian city, formerly on the Euphrates in what is now southern Iraq)
old hooligan see hooligan
old soldier VET (veteran)
on horseback UP
one A; I (one in Roman numerals)
opponents bridge opponents: EN, ES, NE, NW, SE, SW, WN or WS (combinations of east, north, south and west)
partners bridge partners: EW, NS, SN, WE (combinations of east, north, south and west)
party BASH; CON (Conservative); DO; LAB (Labour); LIB (Liberal); RAVE
pass COL
peacekeeper(s) UN (United Nations) or UNO (United Nations Organization)
pet CAT; DOG; SULK; TIFF
physicists CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (French), European Organization for Nuclear Research); NPL (National Physical Laboratory)
piece MAN; see also chessman
playing ON
point E, N, S, W (compass points)
pole(s) N, S, NS, SN (North and South poles)
police department CID (Criminal Investigation Department)
policeman COP (copper); DI (Detective Inspector)
political group see military group
politician MP (Member of Parliament)
popular IN
posh U (upper-class)
presenter DJ (Disk Jockey); MC (Master of Ceremonies)
priest ELI (Old Testament)
printer’s measure see measure
prison CAN; JUG; NICK; PEN (penitentiary); STIR
prisoner CON (convict); LAG
prophet AMOS; ELI
promise(s) to pay IOU(S)
promotion AD (advertisement)
provided IF
province NI (Province of Northern Ireland)
queen CAT (female cat); HM (Her Majesty); see also “Elizabeth – Queen”, “Victoria – Queen” and “Victoria – Queen and Empress”
record EP (extended play record); LP (long play record)
religious PI (shortened form of pious)
rescue boat / rescue craft (Noah’s) ARK
rescue service AA (Automobile Association); RAC (Royal Automobile Club)
revolutionary CHE (Guevara); RED
right LIEN (legal right)
runner name of a river; see also banker
sacred river ALPH (from Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge)
sailor AB (Able-Bodied seaman); OS (Ordinary Seaman); PO (Petty Officer); SALT; TAR
sailors RN (Royal Navy)
salesman REP (representative); TOUT
sapper(s) RE (Royal Engineers)
scientists RS (Royal Society, a body of eminent scientists)
Scotsman IAN; MAC
see ELY (diocese)
service RAF (Royal Air Force); RN (Royal Navy)
sex appeal IT
sheep EWE; LAMB; RAM; TEG/TEGG (in second year); TUP (ram)
ship SS (steamship)
socialite DEB (debutante)
soldier ANT (soldier ant); GI (American soldier); MAN; PARA (paratrooper); RA (Royal Artillery); RE (Royal Engineers);
soldiers MEN; OR (Other Ranks); RA (Royal Artillery); RE (Royal Engineers); other plurals such as ANTS, GIS
space see measure
Spanish article EL, LA, LAS, LOS (Spanish definite articles)
speed of light C (as in e = mc2)
spies CIA (Central Intelligence Agency); MI (Military Intelligence)
sport RL (Rugby League); RU (Rugby Union)
spy MOLE
students NUS (National Union of Students)
support TEE (a support for a golf ball)
supporter BRA (brassiere)
tantrum PET
* take R (℞ ≡ recipe [Latin for take])
tax SCOT; VAT (Value Added Tax)
taxman / former taxman IR (Inland Revenue, now superseded by HMRC / Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs)
teachers NUT (National Union of Teachers)
ten IO (visual representation of 10); X (ten in roman numerals)
test / vehicle test MOT (A compulsory annual check made by order of the Ministry of Transport – now Department for Transport)
the German DER (German definite article)
the Italian IL (Italian definite article)
the Spanish EL (Spanish definite article)
theologian DD (Divinitatis Doctor, Doctor of Divinity)
thousand K (Kilo – metric prefix for a thousand); M (one thousand in Roman numerals)
times BY (as in 2 times 3 ≡ 2 by 3); TT (T[ime] + T[ime]); X (as in 2 times 3 ≡ 2 x 3)
tom CAT (male cat)
training PE (Physical Exercise); PT (Physical Training)
US soldier(s) see soldier(s)
variable X, Y, Z (mathematical variables)
vehicle test see test
Victoria – Queen VR (Victoria Regina, Queen Victoria)
Victoria – Queen and Empress VIR (Victoria Imperatrix Regina, Victoria, Empress and Queen); VRI (Victoria Regina et Imperatrix, Victoria, Queen and Empress)
volunteer(s) / former volunteer(s) TA (Territorial Army, now called the Army Reserve)
wife RIB (from Bible, Genesis 2.21–23)
wine ASTI; CAVA; HOCK; RED; ROSÉ; SACK; SEC; TENT; VIN; VINO
work OP, OPUS (a work, especially a musical composition)
worker ANT (worker ant); BEE (worker bee)
workers TU (Trade Union)
working ON
writing(s) MS (manuscript); MSS (manuscripts)
* added/changed since version 1.18 (223)

Further entries may be be added during periodic updates.

Download v1.18 asa Word file
< Crosswords

Created 24 January 2014

Version 1.18: 22 August 2017

Updated 19 November 2017