Clued In (Blogs)

Clued In #30 | When it takes two to untangle

Mihir Balantrapu  |  19 April 2020

Hey there, and welcome back to Clued In!

Solving puzzles is all about taking a tangle and untangling it, right? The simplest example of a tangle in word puzzles is the Anagram — a word or phrase is literally jumbled up and you have to apply your wits to rearrange the letters and prise out an answer that makes sense. For example, OVERCROWDING is an anagram of COVID WRONGER, as Spinner has shown. TESTING is an anagram of SETTING. KNOW COLD is an anagram of LOCKDOWN. Easy enough.

Only, at some point in the evolution of cryptic crosswords, setters and solvers seem to have got bored of such rudimentary challenges, and invented a twisted variant. And thus, a symbiotic mutation of the simple anagram was born — the Reverse Anagram!


The Hindu Cryptic #12,913 | Hypatia | 23 Across

Clue surface: Grunts, thoroughly exhausted (6,3)

Definition: thoroughly exhausted

Clue types: Reverse Anagram


Explanation: We’re looking for another way of saying ‘thoroughly exhausted’. ‘Grunts’ can be a reverse anagram of ‘strung out’, where ‘out’ is the anagram indicator or anagrind.

The Reverse Anagram is a rather unstraightforward type of clue that, you might say, depending on how much it has frustrated you, borders on unfair. Basically, it gives you, the solver, the opportunity to don the setter’s shoes for a bit, no matter how poorly they might fit you. It does this by expecting you take a certain word in the clue and formulate an answer based on how a setter might clue that word as an anagram.

Some setters — Dr. X, for instance — prefer to deploy the RA “sparingly”, while others, like Afterdark, consider it their favourite type of clue.

Curiously, there don’t seem to be very many established means of subsidiary indication for the RA. Quite often, the indicator is altogether foregone. So, it’s up to you as the solver to be on the alert, and keep your anagrind vocabulary up to date!

If you’re looking for fun ways to keep your brain happy and fit, why not try cryptic crosswords? Just subscribe to THCrosswordPlus right here!