Clued In (Blogs)

Clued In #12 | Where to get the real poop?

 |  30 March 2020

Hey there, and welcome back to Clued In!

Here’s a great clue that appeared in The Guardian’s Everyman #3,824 (or, if you are following The Hindu’s print version, The Sunday Crossword #3,093) which shows you that the trickiest part of a cryptic clue is never necessarily the final answer.

The answer is often a simple word or phrase we already know. And the clue, rather straightforward. But the setter might use a word or phrase inside the clue’s wordplay or definition that could throw you off the scent completely unless you’re familiar with the obscure usage.

And as Indian solvers, we may often experience this disorienting feeling when we come face to face with British slang. Or worse. Americanisms. But, hey. We live and learn.

 

Everyman #3,824 | (15 Across)

Clue surface: “Poop a swear word?” “Almost” “That’s clear” (2,5)

Clue types: Charade, deletion

Definition: That’s clear

Answer: IN FOCUS

Annotation: First, we have the letters INFO (American slang synonym for ‘poop’). Then we have CUSS (‘swear word’) with its last letter removed (because the clue wants ‘a swear word almost’).

Now, if you’re wondering how in the world ‘poop’ is the same thing as ‘information’, here’s the lowdown.

A ‘poop sheet’ is a list of instructions or important details about a subject. It derives from the ‘poop deck’, which is the roof or highest point on the backside of a ship. A shiphand would stand on this poop deck to observe the horizons and shout instructions or information down to the decks below for navigation.

And before you form dirty ideas about its etymology, the word poop here comes from the French word la poupe, meaning the back of a ship, or its stern.

If a poop deck is a sort of information deck on a ship, then naturally a poop sheet would be a sheet containing information, right?

The usage of poop sheet dates back to the 1930s in the United States.

 

poop

sounds like: poop

noun

— relevant information, especially a candid or pertinent factual report; lowdown (dictionary.com)

Eg: Send a reporter to get the real poop on that accident.

 

(By the way, In Focus also happens to be the title of a podcast series offered by The Hindu, in which we delve deep into current developments with subject-matter experts, and provide analysis with context, history and perspective. So, definitely check that out to get the real poop on current affairs!)

Were there any clues that discombobulated/delighted you in the past few weeks? Let us know in the comments below.

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