Times for The Times Glossary


&lit – short for "and literally." Most clues have the definition of the answer as one part, and the wordplay as a separate part. With an &lit clue the entire clue consists of the wordplay and is designed to be read literally to give the definition.

Anagrind/Anagrist – the word in a clue that indicates an anagram is the anagrind. The word(s) used to create it, form the anagrist. One or two commenters dislike these terms, which probably increases their frequency of use. An example: “Military equipment manufactured in real time (8)” Answer: MATERIEL. The definition is underlined, anagrind is in italics, anagrist in bold.

BIFD, Biffed, Biffing – an acronym, "Bunged In From Definition," coined by Grestyman in this January 2015 blog. Used when you know what the answer must be, but can’t quite work out why. Clearly an invaluable word, since it is used virtually every day.

CD – Cryptic definition

Charade – The commonest type of cryptic clue, where consecutive bits of the answer are taken from the different elements of the wordplay.

Club Monthly – a (monthly!) crossword available on the Crossword Club webpages, and blogged by TfTT, generally considered roughly as difficult as the Mephisto and thus mainly for more advanced, or at least masochistic, solvers.

COD – Clue of The Day

Crossword Club, Thepart of The Times website, available free to all Times subscribers, dedicated to crossword matters

CRSCockney Rhyming Slang.

DBE – Definition by example. Normal cryptic convention says that a specific word be clued by a more general word, eg "deer," referring to "impala" but a DBE does the opposite. It is considered good form to indicate a DBE by a hint such as 'say', or with a question mark.

DD – Double definition

DNF – Did Not Finish. A technical DNF is where you actually did finish, but only after looking something up, ie not unaided.

DNK – Did Not Know.

Double duty – A word that performs two functions in a clue, such as being part of the definition and also part of the wordplay. This is not often done in more conservative puzzles such as the Times.

FOI – First One In. See also LOI.

IKEA clue – A charade (qv) clue in which the definition pops out once you assemble all the components of the clue in the correct order. Example: Ancestor of mine: the fellow isn't able to get personnel work (15): PIT + HE + CAN'T + HR + OPUS = Pithecanthropus (ancestor)

Kevin – A jocular unit of speed invented by the SCC, in which they compare their times to one of our faster solvers.

Listener, the – a difficult, thematic crossword published weekly by The Times, named after the magazine that originally published it. Not blogged by TfTT, as it has its own website and blog.

LOI – Last One In. See also FOI.

Mephisto – The barred-grid Times puzzle that is published every Sunday. Because of its difficulty, only the more advanced solvers regularly attempt it.

MER – “Minor eyebrow raise,” a comment where you think the setter might perhaps be a little bit wrong, but (usually) isn’t. Invention of the term is attributed to Myrtilus (commenter and setter) and this is the earliest known example

Momble – A proposed answer that unfortunately turns out not to be a word, but does fit the cryptic, put in by desperate solvers. The word was suggested by mctext and janie_l_b in the comments to this 2014 blog

Neutrino – A person who manually solves the puzzle on paper, and then goes to the Crossword Club and types in the answers as rapidly as possible, either in order to give a high position on the leaderboard or because they are entering a typing competition..

NHO – not heard of (or never heard of); as in, eg: "Knew x, but nho that particular meaning before" ..

Nina – a hidden theme or motif. They are named after the daughter of US artist Al Hirschfeld, whose name he hid in most of his artwork. Ninas are common in Times concise crosswords. They seldom appear in the daily cryptic but they have been known. For an example, look up Saturday Times cryptic 25,741 (22 March 2014). Ninas are similar to themes, but are invariably hidden.

Ninja Turtling – divining the existence of something highbrow or classical from something distinctly not, as in: “Of course I’ve heard of Donatello. He’s the one with the purple mask..” Coined by Keriothe in this 2018 blog.

Pangram – a crossword that contains all 26 letters of the alphabet. They are not uncommon, and occasionally one comes across multiple pangrams, such as this example which is a triple pangram and only 8 letters short of being quadruple. Better still, here is the only known quintuple pangram. If you have trouble solving it, it is blogged, here. Unkind folk might say the setter gets more fun from a pangram than the solver does, but it is a feat worthy of admiration and can be a useful solving aide, provided you spot it in time.

Quickie – The daily 13 x 13 "Quick Cryptic" puzzle that was added by The Times to try to get more people involved in solving cryptics. Many newer solvers still find it rather difficult on some days.

SCC – The acronym for the Slow Coach Club, a name the less speedy solvers of the Quickie have made up for themselves. Some are permanently resigned to their fate, but others hope to improve and join the speedsters.

SNITCH, the – an acronym, from “Same-day Numeric Index of Times Cryptic Hardness.” A marvellous website developed by commenter Starstruck, to assess the relative difficulty of each day’s crossword. There is a link to it on every page of TfTT.

Theme – The best-known thematic crossword is the Listener (qv), which invariably has one. The daily concise often has a theme, the daily cryptic very seldom, though they do occur. For an example, look up the Sunday Times cryptic 4702 (10 July 2016) by David McLean. Themes are similar to Ninas but are not hidden. The Guardian has themed crosswords quite often, for those that like that sort of thing ..

Times – ie completion times, the quoting thereof. A number of commenters give their completion time each day. Occasionally accusations of boasting are made, but given short shrift. The title of the blog – Times For The Times – provides a clue.

TLSTimes Literary Supplement, a separate Murdoch publication that publishes an excellent crossword (among other things) each week. It used to be available on The Times website, and thus was blogged by TfTT, but sadly, no longer. A few diehards do still complete it each week, or try to..

Ximenes – Ximenean. A term used to describe a particular style of crossword setting. Ximenes was the pseudonym of DS Macnutt, setter of the Observer barred crossword from 1939 until 1972, (no mean feat as he died in 1971) as well as a setter for the Listener. The more closely a crossword adheres to the principles laid down in his seminal book, Ximenes on the Art of the Crossword , the more Ximenean it is said to be. Copies of this book are scarce but can sometimes be found. See his Wikipedia entry for more details.