Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Lost Word

Cryptic Crosswords
Part Four

Today we're looking at 'hidden words', these are clues where the answer is  right before your eyes, although it will be hidden amongst other letters. We've done them before so hidden words should be simple right?

Oh yes it's that time again, time to learn a brand new type of Cryptic Crossword clue, except, it shouldn't actually be new to you. Not if you've read my previous post about the shapes of words anyway.

While it's true that once you know a clue is a hidden word clue, it shouldn't take you long to find out what the hidden word is, there are some subtleties and complexities in how the clue is solved.

The first step to solving a hidden word clue, is recognising it in the first place. You'd be right to think it would be a challenge given how crafty crossword setters are, but I'm about to let you in on a little secret.

The thing is there is an accepted language used by crossword compilers to communicate the type of clue being used. Each type of clue has a whole family of 'indicators' which can be used to show the particular trick of the clue. Of course, because so many different words can be used for each indicator, it's not always easy to spot them.

So what words are we looking for, well basically any words which mean hidden, to look for or to find. Keep an eye out for 'found in', 'searches', 'located', 'contains', 'hides' or 'includes'. Don't forget the humble 'in', 'within', 'conceals' and holds. Here's an example to get us started.

Writer found in top enclosure (3)

So as always let's split it up and break it down, this time we have a definition, an indicator and a source phrase. We'll mark our definition in red, 'writer', remember as in our last video on crosswords, a writer is something or someone that writes, not necessarily a famous scribe.

In purple is our indicator, a nice obvious one too, followed by the source phrase in yellow. So all we need to do is find a word in 'top enclosure' that means 'writer'

Writer found in top enclosure (3)

Writer found in top enclosure (3)

Here's another example.

Searches girls rib bones for attachment (6)

This time the key constituants are in a different order, but they are still all present. There's even a link word, which are as always in blue, this time.

Searches girls rib bones for attachment (6)

So what we're looking fot is a word in 'girls rib bones' which means attachment. Remember that despite the macabre suggestion of someone dissecting a rib cage that the overall clue gives, you should treat each unit of the clue as a completely separate entity.

Searches girls rib bones for attachment (6)

So, are you feeling confident? Don't forget to keep an eye out for words that indicate that the hidden word is written backwards in a clue as well. Here's an entertaining if simple example.

About-turn! Locate receiver in Heli-Bomb (6)

Two indicators, a definition and a source phrase is what is essentially quite a fun little clue.

About-turn! Locate receiver in Heli-Bomb (6)

So what does all this mean, military connotations aside, we want a word, written backwards, in the phrase 'Heli-Bomb' and we want it to mean receiver.

If you think you've found a reverse hidden word it can help to write out the source phrase backwards and remove the capital letters and spaces so you use the shapes of the letters to help you out.

Heli-Bomb becomes bmobileh and the answer suddenly becomes clear.

So, it's time to turn and face the grid as we try and fill in two more clues of our cryptic crossword. Remember you can find the original grid in the first post on cryptics. I should point out that these may not all be hidden word clues, but I wont.

One Small Step


21. Whole country searches hindi artefacts.


16. Sparse and watery

18. Cover in cocoa tips

So, have a crack at those and I'll be back before long with more exciting adventures from the crossworders' crypt. Until then, keep puzzling.

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