The Judge Sums UpThe Judge loves language and loves to show off by writing about the tricky clues in Lovatts contest crosswords. The Judge will also point out where you went wrong! You will find the wise words of The Judge in each issue of BIG Crossword, Colossus Crosswords, MEGA! and Holiday Crossword Collection. If there are any clues you would like explained The Judge is the one to ask.
for a Stinker
A simple spelling mistake caught out some Stinker-lovers at 1dn. ‘Prophetess’ needed SIBYL not SYBIL. Sibyl’s were depicted as old women who lived in caves making prophecies. The most famous was the one who assisted Aeneas in his journey to the underworld.
Another often misspelt name caught out others of you at 103ac. ‘Othello plotter’ needed IAGO not LAGO.
Interestingly a sibyl appears in Shakespeare’s play. Othello gives Desdemona a handkerchief which he says was woven by a 200-year-old sibyl. The handkerchief is a symbol of loyalty, but Iago uses it to convince Othello of Desdemona’s infidelity.
The conniving Iago could perhaps be described as a roué, but not as a roux! ROUX not ROUÉ was the answer to 49dn ‘White sauce base’. Roux comes, like many cooking terms, from French and is related to the word russet, coming from the Latin russus, meaning ‘brownish’.
Our clue at 42dn was ‘Box-shaped solid’, but what is a box-shape? Our compiler was thinking of a regular cube-shaped box, but surely a box can have other than six sides. This was something we had to consider when faced with the answer DECAHEDRON instead of the expected HEXAHEDRON. Should we allow it? So back to maths class we went.
Hedron is a suffix meaning a solid with a specific number of faces. A polyhedron is a solid bounded by polygons, that is, closed planes of at least three sides (e.g. triangles, squares, rectangles). So far so good. A hexahedron has six faces, i.e. is a cube when those faces are squares. But a tetrahedron is 3-sided, a pentahedron is 5-sided and a heptahedron is 7-sided. Are they not still boxes? None of these fitted the space in our grid but DECAHEDRON did, and as it can be argued that you can have a 10-sided box, after due deliberation we accepted it as an alternative answer to our clue.
Imminent, coming from the Latin for ‘project over’ means ‘impending’. Immanent, coming from the Latin for ‘remain in’ means ‘existing within’. Our clue at 139dn ‘Inherent’ needed IMMANENT not IMMINENT. One little letter, but a whole world of difference!
The answer to 167dn, ‘Southerly’ was AUSTRAL. DUSTPAN and QUETZAL fitted the space but can only be described as wild guesses.
The Greeks used the word australis to mean the southern part of the world and terra australis incognita was the ‘unknown southern land’ that became Australia.
Austral is used for things relating to, or from the south, so an austral breeze or austral summer. It is used quite a lot by southern hemisphere businesses; Austral Gold, Austral Bricks, Air Austral are examples.
Now I feel in need of some refreshment, how about you? Look no further than 177dn where you’ll find ‘Drink, mint …’. A mint JULEP (not JULIP) originated in Kentucky as a mix of bourbon, ice, sugar syrup and mint.
According to Oxford the word julep comes from the Persian gulab or ‘rose water’. A similar drink is a mojito, which has the addition of lime.
In the Mega Mix, clue 70ac, ‘Ireland’s new PM since March 2011’ proved hard to find for some. Many of you wanted to fit Brian Cowen, who was in fact the previous leader of the Republic of Ireland. ENDA KENNY leads the Finn Gael party and heads a coalition government formed on March 9, 2011.
It is no surprise that Iran and Iraq are often mistaken, as they are neighbours and differ in English by just one letter. The ‘Gulf War nation’ was IRAQ at 55dn in the Mighty Mega, not IRAN.
The United States invaded Iraq in 1991 following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. This is sometimes called the First Gulf War because of the coalition invasion in 2003, usually known as the Iraq War. Just to confuse things further, both are sometimes referred to as Desert Storm. And if that wasn’t enough confusion, there was also a conflict in the 1980s between the two nations known as the Iran-Iraq War.
Not much else to mention from the Mighty Mega I’m pleased to say. Just a couple of AVIARIES instead of APIARIES for 72ac ‘Bee farms’ and one or two ABASE instead of ABATE for 12dn ‘Diminish’.
Well done to all our contestants on another cluster of challenging clues conquered.
I would like to wish a very happy New Year to all you crossword lovers. I look forward to joining you in making 2012 the best puzzling year yet.
Winner in the Bigcash
I hope you liked our first clue in the Bigcash from this issue – the very optimistic ‘Successful competitor’ for the answer WINNER. Unfortunately you can’t all be winners, well not all the time anyway, so our judges continue to peruse your entries making note of errors.
Coming off WINNER at 1dn was WOOLLY for the clue ‘Fleecy’. Our cousins in the US sometimes spell this WOOLY, which didn’t have enough letters for our Bigcash, but WOOLEY was definitely incorrect. Interesting that we double the l for woolly but don’t double the d in woody. Just one of the many anomalies of our wonderful language.
The second most common error in the Bigcash was at 115dn. ‘Worked (dough)’ was KNEADED not KNEEDED, which sounds a bit like you used your knees for this strenuous task.
A couple of you also came unstuck with the spelling of the answer at 84dn. ‘The final conflict’ referred to the biblical battle between the forces of good and evil, or ARMAGEDDON. According to Collins this word is derived from Megiddo, a mountain district of North Palestine that was the site of quite a few Old Testament battles.
‘Made assurances’ at 13ac needed GUARANTEED not GUARANTIED, ‘Offhandedly’ at 55ac needed to be IDLY not IDLE and 118dn ‘Lightly touched’ needed DABBED not DUBBED, which is associated with knights and film soundtracks.
On a happier note, at 101ac for ‘Set down’ we expected LAID but also accepted LAND, which appeared in a number of entries. Also, at 123dn ‘Rescreened (movie)’ could be RERAN or RERUN.
The Goliathon must have been a bit easier, as our judges struggled to find any errors at all.
One they did note was at 145ac. For the fairly gruesome ‘Japanese suicide (4-4)’ the answer was HARA-KIRI but a couple of entries tried KAMA-KIZI, an attempt at KAMIKAZE.
‘Misappropriating’ at 121dn also saw a couple of you trip. The answer was EMBEZZLING not EMBEZELING.
Over to our favourite puzzling devil, The Demon, and again not too many errors to mention, showing that your brains were firing on all cylinders and your research skills didn’t let you down!
MOPPET was the answer to ‘Endearing infant’ at 10ac. POPPET is an alternative but didn’t fit with 10dn MISTRAL for ‘Mediterranean wind’. A MUPPET is a puppet; one of the characters created by Jim Henson for Sesame Street, and who also had their own very popular TV show. Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy are two of the most famous Muppets.
With so few errors it gives me a chance to indulge in a bit of Christmas word trivia.
Yuletide is one of my favourite Christmas words. It means the season of Yule. Yule was an ancient winter festival of 12 days. I love words that have a history going way back into our past. They are like a link with our ancient ancestors.
Baubles is another favourite, though not strictly just a Christmas word. To me it conjures up images of shiny smooth round glass balls hanging on a tree lovingly decorated. The word comes from a French word for ‘plaything’.
Lastly one you don’t hear much anymore – figgy pudding. Figgy just means full of figs. Using the words from the carol where this once popular sweet treat still remains; we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
in the shop
Let’s start with clue 169dn in the Stinker, which was a little ambiguous. ‘Stores’ suggests a few different answers including two that fitted the spaces on our grid; the noun SHOPS, places you buy things, or the verb STOWS, stashes away. We accepted both answers.
One of the world’s endangered animals is a Himalayan creature called a Hispid Hare. The hare is so named because of its bristly coat. Stinker clue 72ac was ‘Covered with bristles’ and needed HISPID as the answer. HISUID and HISHID were incorrect.
At 63dn the ‘Dramatist’ was ‘BERTOLT Brecht’ not BERTOIT or BERTORT. This German playwright and poet is perhaps best remembered for his collaboration with Kurt Weill on the satirical musical, The Threepenny Opera. One of the songs from the show, the murder ballad known as Mack The Knife, has been recorded many times since its creation in the 1920s.
Intrepid is a word that is quite well-known; an intrepid explorer is one who is fearless even while facing unknown dangers. The word comes from the Latin trepidus meaning alarmed or anxious and so the lesser-known TREPID was the answer to 35dn ‘Quaking’. TREVID and TREMID were incorrect.
‘Jot’ was the clue at 87ac and while a simple little word, it did cause some trouble. Jot means to write down quickly and briefly. By extension it means a little bit, especially in the phrase, “I don’t care a jot”. WHIT has a similar meaning and was the answer we were looking for. CHIT means a voucher for food or drink, a memorandum, or an impudent girl.
For 136dn ‘Kin’ both RELATIVES and RELATIONS seemed to be suitable, but only RELATIVES would fit with 186ac APE for ‘Tailless primate’.
At 76dn the clue ‘Do penance’ needed EXPIATE. The second part of expiate shares its Latin root word pius with pious, which we might clue as ‘devout’ or ‘reverent’. EXPLANE, is unfortunately not a word , perhaps those who opted for this were thinking of EXPLAIN.
A few simple spelling errors to note include CHARLATON, which needed to be CHARLATAN for ‘Quack’ at 15ac, INADVERTANT, which needed to be INADVERTENT for ‘Unwitting’ at 129dn and USERER, which needed to be USURER for ‘Greedy moneylender’ at 291dn.
Over in the Giant Cryptic and 61dn was ‘Centre area of club is a candy store? (5,4)’. The answer was SWEET SPOT, the clue containing two meanings. A sweet spot on a golf club, tennis racquet or bat is the centre area from where the most effective shots are made. A sweet spot could also be a place to sell ‘candy’. A couple of entries had SCENT SPOT.
We had a lot of discussion about 63ac as many different answers appeared in entries including IFS, ITS and ILS. The ins and outs of something are the intricacies or details, so INS was the answer to ‘Half of the finer details’.
In Cashwords entries we noticed quite a few blank squares. This can easily happen when you leave a letter to check the spelling in a dictionary and then forget to go back and fill it in. It’s a shame to do all the work of filling in the answers to then be disqualified for one or two blank squares. So, a friendly reminder from our judges to recheck your entries before posting.
‘Narrow river crossing’ at 1dn was FORD not FEED and ‘Unlatch’ at 157ac was UNBOLT not UNBELT.
‘Be an omen of’ at 61ac needed BODE not MODE, RODE or CODE. I could say that this didn’t bode well for the rest of the Cashwords, but that would seem a bit cruel!
There were two acceptable spellings at 132dn. ‘Car’s petrol-mixing device’ was either CARBURETTOR or CARBURETTER.
‘Soundest of mind’ at 71ac was SANEST not SAFEST and 141dn ‘Happiest’ was CHEERIEST, not CHEEKIEST. For both these answers I am reminded of that strange idiom, ‘close but no cigar’, meaning your worthy efforts unfortunately fall just short and receive no reward.
The expression, which was used in the 1935 film of Annie Oakley, apparently comes from a time in the US when cigars were given out as fairground prizes.
I’m sure you eager-beavers are all as keen as mustard to tackle the next lot of contests. May you fare well in your quest for the sweet smell of victory!
It’s often Greek to me
The Baffler needed KOTA which means ‘city’ or ‘fort’, for ‘Sabah’s … Kinabalu’.The capital of Sabah, one of the states of Malaysia, was named after Mount Kinabalu, a World Heritage site known for its many thousands of plant species including orchids, pitcher plants and the giant Rafflesia. The mountain is also home to orang-utans. Climbing the mountain is popular with tourists as no mountaineering equipment is required – just a good level of fitness.
Twin brothers Reggie and Ronnie Kray were arrested in 1968 and sentenced to life imprisonment after decades of violent criminal activity in London. KRAY was the answer to Baffler clue ‘Gangsters, … Twins’. Most of you answered this correctly but KARY and KASY appeared a couple of times.
The Old Testament prophet Elijah (Baffler clue) is also known as ELIAS, especially in translations from Greek rather than Hebrew texts.
Elias is thought to be related to the Ancient Greek Helios, the sun god. Remnants of this link back to pagan times can be seen by the fact that many high peaks in Greece, which were once sites of temples to Helios, are now named after the prophet Elias. Also, in celebrations of St Elias’s feast day in Lebanon, fireworks commemorate Elias riding to heaven in a fiery chariot. Similarly, Helios drove the sun chariot across the sky each day.
English is rich in words with links back to ancient times. One such is AEGIS, the answer to Stinker clue ‘Patronage’ at 91ac. Aegis was a goatskin shield worn by Zeus and Athena and used to frighten enemies and protect allies. Something under one’s aegis is under one’s protection
Icon (‘Sacred effigy’ 99ac) is a word that has expanded its meaning over time. Coming from the Greek for ‘seem like’ icons were religious paintings and objects of worship. Icons are now anything considered an enduring symbol – in France icons might include the croissant and the Eiffel Tower, in China, the Great Wall and dragon! Icons are also the name for symbols on a computer screen that represent a file or program etc.
‘Millenarian’ at 199ac referred to the belief in 1000 years of peace and justice following Christ’s return to Earth. Chiliad is another word for millennium and CHILIAST was the answer to this Stinker clue, the word coming from khilloi, a Greek word for thousand.
Did you know that rude and ERUDITE share the same Latin root word, rudis, meaning untrained or rude? This does not mean that someone who is ‘Knowledgeable’ (33dn) is rude. The word translates as someone who has ‘had the rudeness taken out
I wonder how many of our readers know someone who is UXORIOUS – ‘Overly fond of one’s wife’ (84dn). This word had negative connotation in times when men were dominant and never submissive. I’m sure modern women would agree that one’s partner can never be too attentive! Uxor is Latin for wife and in older legal documents it might read ‘John Smith et ux’ – meaning and wife.
VESPINE was ‘Wasp-like’ at 130dn, coming from the Latin for wasp, vespa. What could possibly be described as vespine? One of those famous Italian ‘buzzing‘ motor scooters, of course!
LARGO for ‘Slow musical piece’ at 255dn comes from the Latin for abundant or generous. Lento comes from the Latin for slow and in most music glossaries is interchangeable with largo. A slightly less slow tempo is larghetto, a diminutive of largo.
We had a call asking us to explain Giant Cryptic clue 7ac ‘Sketched again using red, green and navy for start’. Our caller thought the answer to ‘Sketched again’ was REDRAWN, which it was, but wondered how the rest of the clue worked. RED was self-explanatory, but ‘green’ needed a further step to RAW and N is the start of navy.
Smile or frown
You will be if you got EMOTICON for ‘Text message symbol’ at 21ac in The Demon. This word was not in our 1998 Collins but is in the 2005 edition. Perhaps you are feeling because you didn’t know this.
Records of using punctuation to indicate emotions goes back over a hundred years but they are much more common since mobile phone text messaging captured everyone’s imagination. Other favourites are (wink), (grin), (surprise) and <3 (love heart).
The word CIPOLIN for ‘Green-streaked marble’ (36ac) comes from the Italian for ‘little onion’ because of the way the streaks look like the layers of an onion.
In Greek mythology a CHIMERA was a female fire-breathing monster with a body made up of bits of different animals; lion, goat and serpent. Because this uncertain creature was difficult to depict, it became a being of language and the word came to mean a ‘Fanciful conception’ (Demon 54ac).
At 76ac the ‘Samurai code of honour’ was hard to find and quite a few letters were not crossed by other words. BUSHIDO is one to make note of for the future. According to Collins it comes from the word for ‘warrior’.
‘Rather improper’ OUTRE, and ‘Alternate’ OTHER crossed at 108ac and 103dn but left some scratching their heads in bemusement. A few odd entries appeared including OBESE and REFER and OURIE and ORDER.
For ‘Sprucely’ at 105ac you needed NATTILY to fit with VERNAL for 81dn ‘Occurring in Spring’. If you put NIFTILY then VERNIL was incorrect.
I never cease to be fascinated and entertained by the tales from Ancient times and they are one of the joys of The Demon. In this case we had PERSEUS, the ‘Gorgon slayer’ at 89dn.
This Greek hero was the son of Zeus and Danae. When King Polydectes fell for Danae he sent Perseus on a quest to kill Medusa, the serpent-headed Gorgon, thinking Perseus would be killed in the attempt. Helped by Hermes and Athena, Perseus succeeded in cutting off Medusa’s head, which he later presented to Athena.
On the way home Perseus saves Andromeda and marries her.
A word sometimes mistakenly associated with Julius Caesar is CAESAREAN. For ‘Surgical birth’ we also accepted CAESARIAN.
In the Goliathon at 92dn the ‘Heated pool treatment’ was HYDROTHERAPY not HYDRATHERAPY. Coincidentally, Hydra was another many-headed monster from Greek mythology. She was slain by the hero Hercules.
‘Moving staircase’ at 76dn was ESCALATOR not ESCALATER.
4dn was TUBULAR not TUBALAR and 13dn was CHOLESTEROL not CHOLESTOROL. We accepted both CAPITALISE and CAPITALIZE at 2dn and ANTAGONISED and ANTAGONIZED at 65dn.
In the Bigcash 44ac was DAUBS not DABBS for ‘Smears’.
Most of you got NAV for 107dn ‘Motorist’s sat …’ but a few blanks were spotted. Short for satellite navigation and also known as GPS, or Global Positioning System, these devices are standard in most new cars and are also a feature of many mobile phones. Not only will they tell you where to turn, but also where there might be a traffic jam and where to find a petrol station.
Luckily you don’t need a sat nav to find your way around BIG!