Friday, December 4, 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015 — DT 27839

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27839
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Saturday, June 27, 2015
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27839 – Hints]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27839 – Review]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
Prolixic (Hints)
crypticsue (Review)
BD Rating
Difficulty - Enjoyment - ★★★
Falcon's Experience
- solved without assistance
- incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
- solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by solutions from Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- reviewed by Falcon for Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- yet to be solved


I would say that today's puzzle is fairly typical fare for what — in the UK — was a Saturday prize puzzle.

I invite you to leave a comment to let us know how you fared with the puzzle.

Notes on Today's Puzzle

This commentary is intended to serve as a supplement to the review of this puzzle found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog, to which a link is provided in the table above.

Primary indications (definitions) are marked with a solid underline in the clue; subsidiary indications (be they wordplay or other) are marked with a dashed underline in all-in-one (&lit.) clues, semi-all-in-one (semi-&lit.) clues and cryptic definitions. Explicit link words and phrases are enclosed in forward slashes (/link/) and implicit links are shown as double forward slashes (//). Definitions presented in blue text are for terms that appear frequently.


1a   Exchange bit of grass /for/ flick-knife (11)

Flick knife[2,5,10] (or flick-knife[1]) is a British term for a knife with a retractable blade that springs out from the handle when a button is pressed [known as a switchblade in the US and Canada].

7a   Also enthralling doctor, the French // kind of lottery (7)

"doctor" = MB (show explanation )

In Britain, the degree required to practice medicine is a Bachelor of Medicine[7] (MB, from Latin Medicinae Baccalaureus), which is equivalent to a North American Doctor of Medicine (MD, from Latin Medicinae Doctor). The degree of Doctor of Medicine also exists in Britain, but it is an advanced degree pursued by those who wish to go into medical research. Physicians in Britain are still addressed as Dr. despite not having a doctoral degree. 

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"the French" = LA (show explanation )

In French, the feminine singular form of the definite article is la[8].

hide explanation

Tombola[5] is a British term for a game in which people pick tickets out of a revolving drum and certain tickets win immediate prizes, typically played at a fete (show explanation ) or fair ⇒ (i) entrance includes a tombola and raffle; (ii) traditional games such as tombola or bingo.

Fete[5] (also fête) is a British term for a public function, typically held outdoors and organized to raise funds for a charity, including entertainment and the sale of goods and refreshments ⇒ a church fete.

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8a   Shorts with English // tonic (7)

Short[5] is a British term for a drink of spirits served in a small measure [a container of standard capacity used for taking fixed amounts of a substance] or, as Collins English Dictionary puts it, a drink of spirits as opposed to a long drink such as beer[10].

Ginseng[5] is a plant tuber credited with various tonic and medicinal properties.

10a   Individual tucked into my // bread (5)

11a   One who reprimands // hunter grabbing its back (9)

12a   Friendly // drink (7)

What did she say?
In her review, crypticsue describes cordial as a soft drink with a fruit base.
This rather surprised me as I thought cordial was an alcoholic drink — remember Anne and Diana getting into Marilla's raspberry cordial in Anne of Green Gables.

In Britain, cordial[10] denotes a drink with a fruit base, usually sold in concentrated form and diluted with water before being drunk while in North America it is another word for liqueur.

14a   Agent taking in band /that's/ bouncy (7)

15a   Cockney's feet getting to grips with one // system of exercises (7)

A cockney[5] is a native of East London [specifically that part of East London known as the East End], traditionally one born within hearing of Bow Bells [the bells of St Mary-le-Bow[7] church]. Cockney is also the name of the dialect or accent typical of cockneys, which is characterised by dropping the H from the beginning of words and the use of rhyming slang[5], a type of slang that replaces words with rhyming words or phrases, typically with the rhyming element omitted. For example butcher’s, short for butcher’s hook, means ‘look’ in Cockney rhyming slang.

Plates[5] (short for plates of meat) is rhyming slang for a person’s feet.

Pilates[10] is a system of gentle exercise performed lying down that stretches and lengthens the muscles, designed to improve posture, flexibility, etc. It is named after Joseph Pilates (1880–1967), its German inventor.

18a   Bachelor girl /in/ Spanish-speaking country (7)

B[2] is the abbreviation for Bachelor (in the sense of an academic degree).

20a   A nice turn in variety? // Not sure (9)

Scratching the Surface
A turn[5] is a short performance, especially one of a number given by different performers in succession ⇒ (i) Lewis gave her best ever comic turn; (ii) he was asked to do a turn at a children’s party.

Variety[5] is a form of television or theatre entertainment consisting of a series of different types of act, such as singing, dancing, and comedy.

21a   Not very bright Italian, retiring, // shy (5)

"Italian" = IT (show explanation )

This clueing might be explained in a couple of ways:
  • It.[10] is an abbreviation for Italian or Italy.

  • Italian[10] is another name for Italian vermouth. It[5] is an informal, dated British term for Italian vermouth ⇒ he poured a gin and it.
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22a   Piles showered on // Greek character (7)

Epsilon[5] is the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet (Ε, ε).

23a   Character // left wearing support (7)

24a   Pay for a guy /in/ order to relax (5,2,4)

Guy[3,4,11] means to make fun of, to hold up to ridicule, or to mock.


1d   Group studying // ruined remains (7)

2d   Cream // trailer containing gold (5)

Or[5] is gold or yellow, as a heraldic tincture.

3d   Unexpected over large // part of church (7)

4d   Brownie // stands to embrace soldier back inside (3,4)

"soldier" = GI (show explanation )

A GI[5] is a private soldier in the US army ⇒ she went off with a GI during the war.

Contrary to popular belief, the term apparently is not an abbreviation for general infantryman, but rather derives from the term government (or general) issue (originally denoting equipment supplied to US forces).

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Big Ears[7] is a character from the Noddy series of books by English children's writer Enid Blyton (1897–1968). In Noddy Goes to Toyland he introduces himself as a brownie "or a sort of a hob, or hobgoblin".

5d   Without dressing, // served up as a rule, tuna (2,7)

6d   American poet /and/ essayist's first sermon in new compilation (7)

Ralph Waldo Emerson[5] (1803–1882) was an American philosopher and poet. He evolved the concept of Transcendentalism, which found expression in his essay Nature (1836).

7d   Site map clue must be solved /to show/ buried receptacle? (4,7)

9d   Railway staff in Germany supported by article there // to rig vote (11)

In German, der[8] is one of the several forms that the definite article may assume.

Gerrymander[5] (in Britain, also spelled jerrymander) means to manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favour one party or class.

Delving Deeper
The word gerrymander comes from the name of Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts + salamander, from the supposed similarity between a salamander and the shape of a new voting district on a map drawn when he was in office (1812), the creation of which was felt to favour his party; the map (with claws, wings, and fangs added) was published in the Boston Weekly Messenger, with the title The Gerry-Mander.

13d   Printer a liability? To some extent, // among other things (5,4)

The phrase inter alia[5] [adopted from Latin] means among other things ⇒ the study includes, inter alia, computers, aircraft, and pharmaceuticals.

16d   Insects /found in/ place across street (7)

17d   Examined // son, drunk (7)

Canned[4,11] is a slang word for drunk (in the sense of intoxicated). A new term for me, but it appears in all of my usual British dictionaries as well as in one of my American dictionaries — missing only from The American Heritage Dictionary.

18d   Jonson, perhaps -- electronic image // good (7)

Ben Jonson[5] (1572–1637) was an English dramatist and poet. With his play Every Man in his Humour (1598) he established his ‘comedy of humours’, whereby each character is dominated by a particular obsession. He became the first Poet Laureate in the modern sense. Other notable works: Volpone (1606) and Bartholomew Fair (1614).

An e-fit[5] (British trademark) is an electronic picture of the face of a person being sought by the police, created by a computer program from composite photographs of facial features.

19d   Leave // Virginia with American beast (7)

"Virginia" = VA (show explanation )

There are a couple of possible explanations for this clueing:
  • The abbreviation for Virginia is Va[5].
  • In official postal use, the abbreviation for Virginia is VA[5].
hide explanation

The moose[5] is a large deer (Alces alces) with palmate antlers and a growth of skin hanging from the neck, native to northern Eurasia and northern North America. Also called elk in Britain. [The animal that North Americans know as an elk[5] (Cervus elaphus canadensis) is called a wapiti in Britain.].

I supposed that the setter had likely referred to the moose as an "American beast", not because it is native solely to North America (which it isn't), but because moose is the North American name for this animal which the Brits call an elk. However, comments on Big Dave's site would seem to suggest that the Brits may well consider the moose to be an exclusively American beast.

21d   What a pope may wear /in/ a short ceremony round area to the north (5)

Papal tiara
A tiara[5] is a high diadem (jewelled crown or headband) encircled with three crowns and worn by a pope.

Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - (Collins English Dictionary)
[5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
[6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
[7]   - Wikipedia
[8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
[9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10] - (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon

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