New words for old things in our pick of the best of the broadsheets’ cryptic clues
In the sample clues below, the links take you to explainers from our beginners series. The setter’s name often links to an interview with him or her, in case you feel like getting to know these people better.
The news in clues
It’s hard not to read this clue from Qaos …
13a Record rise in disorder after parties (7)
[ wordplay: anagram of (‘in disorder’) RISE, after synonym for ‘parties’ ]
[ SIER after DOS ]
[ definition: record ]
… for DOSSIER and not wonder what we will be hearing about when the next news of a Downing Street bash breaks. A fondue? Twister? A pantomime horse? Meanwhile, Neo is perhaps being deliberately anti-topical with this clue …
23d Root bats, getting runs, but this one turns (5)
[ wordplay: anagram (‘bats’ as adjective) of ROOT + abbrev. for ‘runs’ ]
[ ROTO + R ]
[ definition: item that turns ]
… for ROTOR.
16a Recording material introducing video into New York libraries (5)
[ wordplay: first letters of (‘introducing’) VIDEO INTO NEW YORK LIBRARIES ]
[ definition: recording ]
Because it once related to ethylene, VINYL shares a root with “wine”, and has accrued usages since its mid-19th-century appearance. Nowadays, it means something different to those who grew up with it (vinyl records in general) from what it does to those who have only known digital music. Now, an individual record can be “a vinyl”, creating a generation gap reminiscent of the Not the Nine O’Clock News sketch that today comes across as a curious period piece.
We’ve talked before about how the guitar became an “acoustic guitar” after the appearance of its electrical cousin. Likewise the “conventional oven”, “corn on the cob”, and so on. If the usual pattern had been followed, we would now have an expression such as “circular album” or “flat song”.
I can’t think of another example; no one calls, say, a conventional cigarette “a tobacco”. Can you think of one? And have you spotted any evidence in the wild of “vinyl” as a verb?
Incidentally, anyone tempted to harrumph at “vinyls” should check that they have never said “three-album boxed set” or “double album”, since the original albums were, as the name suggests, very much collections of records rather than individual discs. Which leads us to our next challenge: reader, how would you clue ALBUM?
Thanks for your clues for APP. I enjoyed the many non-app surfaces, such as Smallboat01’s “Package absent and signed for by someone else” and while I appreciated Battledore’s “Somewhat disappointed with Wordle, for instance”, should we be encouraging an acceptance of the app-based and pirated versions of Wordle?
The audacity award goes to Peshwari for “Program a collection of animals to shuffle to the right”. The runners-up both make use of the newer sense of app: Lizard’s “Laptop’s malfunctioning – ____ lost?” and Newlaplandes’ “Laptop denied opening to unwanted software”. The winner, to which I’ve imperiously added a question mark, is PeterMooreFuller’s “Tap phone with this installed?”.
Kludos to Peter. Please leave entries for this fortnight’s competition – as well as your non-print finds and picks from the broadsheet cryptics – below.
The latest in our collaborative playlist Healing Music Recorded in 2020-22 to Accompany a Solve or Even Listen to is from Lucinda Williams, who has described the process of recovering from a stroke to Rolling Stone magazine.
Clue of the Fortnight
It’s always a pleasure when you presume a surface reading has nothing to do with the answer, then realise you’ve been tricked into thinking you’ve been tricked. Here’s an example, from the beginning of a Wednesday Telegraph:
1a The orator’s planned delivery may be affected by this (4,6)
[ wordplay: anagram of (‘planned’) THEORATORS ]
[ definition: either the whole clue or the last six words ]
SORE THROAT, then, and good health.
• The Shipping Forecast Puzzle Book by Alan Connor, which is partly but not predominantly cryptic, can be ordered from the Guardian Bookshop.