Login:

Password:





Not yet joined our word puzzle community? Then REGISTER NOW >>>
Who's online? | Login | Leaderboard | Anagrams

Cryptic Definition Clues In Cryptic Crosswords

One of the rarer clue types to be encountered when solving cryptic crosswords is called the "cryptic definition".

How does this vary from the other clue types, and what does it mean?

Well, it varies from them in this very important way: there is only a definition, but it is phrased in quite a cryptic way. As you will know, most clue types have two distinct parts: the straight answer and the cryptic clue. That is not the case here.

As such, these clues are often quite short, although not necessarily.

To solve these clues you need to try and think what else the clue might mean, above and beyond the obvious meaning that your brain will probably leap straight to. These often involve looking at different meanings of the words in the clue from the obvious ones, or else taking the phrase not at face value but literally, and then that leading you to the answer.

Cryptic definitions can be quite frustrating, but when you get the answer they can be one of the most satisfying cryptic clues as they often contain an 'aha' moment, and as they are often witty and a bit of a joke they can induce a smile or even a laugh out loud moment in rare cases.

Another thing to look out for in cryptic definition clues is that a word may not be used in its usual sense, not just in a cryptic or very literal sense. The most common example of this is the word 'flower' not referring to a pansy or geranium, but to a flow-er: something that flows - a river. So a 'London flower' would be 'Thames' for instance, or the word 'sticky' wouldn't have anything to do with glue, but something that is literally like a stick or on a stick.

As with everything, an example always helps, so here goes: see if you can work out the answer to the clue below before reading the explanation underneath:

Essential item for a hold-up (6)

The answer here is BRACES, since they literally hold up trousers. Were you thinking of things like weapons or a bank hold-up, perhaps?

We hope that this is a useful introduction to cryptic definition clues and how to solve them. Do you have a favourite cryptic definition clue, or perhaps you've come across one that you just don't understand? Feel free to share your thoughts below!


Date written: 12 Apr 2015



Comment on this post

You must be logged in to comment - please Register or Login

Other Blog Posts You Might Find Interesting...

Dictionaries And Help With Writing Crossword Clues
For anyone who has written crossword clues, or anyone who is about to, there is one great realisation that dawns on you fairly on in your clue-writing career: dictionaries are surprisingly ineffective at helping you write crossword clues. There are...
Added: 28 Apr 2015


Using Our Online Puzzle Solving Tools
We have online player tools for a large range of different word puzzles. These include arrow words, pangrams, general knowledge crosswords, quick crosswords, wordwheels, word ladders, word fit, skeleton crosswords, A - Z puzzles, codewords, cryptograms...
Added: 26 Apr 2015


Skeleton Crossword Solving Tips
Solving skeleton crosswords can be quite tricky, and experience helps. For those new to solving this puzzle type, what tips can we offer you to help you crack the Wordy Puzzles skeletons and thus gain the many points available for solving this tricky...
Added: 31 Mar 2015


Introduction To Cryptogram Puzzles
Cryptogram puzzles can look quite intimidating to start with. They present you with what looks like total gobbledegook, but is in fact simply a piece of intelligence English that has been scrambled, in a particular way. Here is how the scrambling...
Added: 24 Mar 2015


Does Brain Training Work?
Does brain training work? This is a big question, and there have been several tests and surveys carried out - some more scientific than others - to try and establish the truth. Anecdotally at least, several people say that they have experienced...
Added: 23 Apr 2015




Back to Puzzle Blog


Puzzle Types:
Arrow word Puzzles
Pangram Puzzles
General Knowledge Crosswords
Quick Crosswords
Wordwheels
Word Ladders
Word Fit
Skeleton Crosswords
A to Z Puzzles
Codewords
Cryprograms Online
Every Letter Counts