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Cryptic Crosswords: Hidden Word Clues

One type of cryptic crossword clue is called the 'hidden word' clue. As the name suggests, the answer here is actually hidden in the clue.

This sounds like it would be far too easy, but actually these answers can be very hard to spot - even when you know the answer.

They are also quite common so definitely worth looking out for - typically there is one per puzzle, although there can be two or even more on rare occasions, whilst some puzzles might not have any.

How do you spot them? Well there will be some sort of indicator that the answer is in the clue. The sorts of words to look for are: concealing, extract, featuring, hiding, in, inside, internal, partially, selection, smuggling, veiled and within.

Once you know to look out for these words as hidden word answers, then they get a lot easier, as there are a manageable number of indicators used to show something is hidden inside: probably twenty or so words that are used in most instances, like the examples we've given you above.

Of course, they can still be hard to spot even if you know what indicators to look out for, and can be very clever constructions indeed: often spanning across several words. Remember that these clues still contain a straight definition part, too so do let that help guide you towards the answer too.

Also remember that the answer doesn't need to be hidden between words, it could just be a substring of a single word: thus you might be required to take 'ones' from 'honestly' if the clue is 'Singles come across honestly, in part': singles is ONES and it is also hONEStly in part.

Hidden word clue are loved by some solvers and loathed by others, partly because some people just find them so much easier to spot than others.

If a clue just doesn't seem to be allowing you any progress under a standard cryptic clue analysis, then consider if it could be a hidden word clue.

Also, because hidden word clues clearly lead you to the answer when you spot them, then some solvers like to quickly scan the grid at the start looking for hidden word indicators and then writing those in if they find them to give them some letters for other clues in the grid.

Do you like this clue type? Have you come across any particularly good examples? Please do share your thoughts with us below.
Date written: 17 Apr 2015



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