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Solving & Lit Clues In Cryptic Crosswords

When you are solving cryptic crosswords, most of the clue types that you come across are fairly intuitive: for instance a double definition clue fairly obviously involves two definitions that lead to the same answer. And an anagram clue, sure enough, contains an anagram of the answer word in the clue, if only you can work out what is the anagram indicator and what is the anagram fodder, then finally work out the anagram answer.

But what about this rather mysterious clue called an 'and lit' clue or perhaps an '& Lit' clue.

Well, it may help you understand what this is if you are informed that & Lit simply stands for "and literally so". Does this help you?

If not, it is a type of clue where - very unusually - indeed almost uniquely - there is NO SEPARATE STRAIGHT DEFINITION part at all - it is simply a cryptic indication of the answer that can also be interpreted as a straight clue, in a way. Indeed, the whole clue itself serves as both the definition and the cryptic clue, and as such does double duty. These clues are often quite short, and are also seen fairly rarely, as they are tricky to write and come up with, and also hard to pull off. And you will find that if there is a word that readily lends itself to this type of clue, another setter has got there first, so some of these clues get reinvented.

As such, a good & Lit clue is often the source of much admiration from solvers and other setters alike.

As with most things in life, an example or two can make it clear. Here are a couple of the examples of this type of clue given on the wikipedia page for cryptic crossword clue types:

1) God incarnate, essentially!

The answer here is ODIN, which is part of 'God incarnate' (eg essentially), whilst Odin is also straightforwardly God incarnate, essentially.

2) e.g., Origin of goose.

Can you work that one out yourself? It is simply e and g then origin of goose is the letter 'G', so eg + g = EGG and of course the origin of a goose is quite literally an egg.

So these two examples should show you how the & Lit clue does double duty as both a cryptic and straight definition all in one, unlike other clue types that have a separate part of the clue to perform each role.

Have a favourite & Lit cryptic crossword clue yourself? We'd love to hear all about it below, and why you like it so much. Or perhaps you've written your own and would like to share it with us?
Date written: 11 Apr 2015

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