Tuesday, August 12, 2008

&lit, Literally So

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and-lit-clue-type Regular cryptic clues have two discrete components - the definition and the wordplay. &lit is an unusual clue type in which the definition and the wordplay are the same.

&lit stands for "and literally so". The wordplay is of any regular type in an &lit clue - say, container or anagram; the specialty is that the entire clue is its definition.

Take for example: Cop in male form (9) POLICEMAN

The entire clue is the definition – a POLICEMAN is a "Cop in male form". The entire clue is also its wordplay – the answer is an anagram of (COP IN MALE) with "form" as the anagram indicator.

More examples of &lit clues using other wordplay techniques.

&lit with Charade:
Guardian 23892 (Rufus): I'm a leader of Muslims (4) IMAM
I'M A M[uslims]

&lit with (Anagram + Container):
Times 23986: This means getting excited about start of undertaking (10) ENTHUSIASM
(THIS MEANS)* around U[ndertaking]

&lit with (Charade + Reversal):
Guardian 23911 (Orlando): One's cold to walk over (6) ICECAP
I (one) has C (cold), PACE (walk) reversed

&lit clues are also called all-in-one clues, since the wordplay is the same as the definition.

&Lit Clue Characteristics

Some traits of &lit clues to help you identify them:

  • &lit clues are typically "short and snappy"
  • An exclamation mark at the end is a good sign that the clue in question is of &lit type
  • Such clues most often use the hidden word or anagram wordplay styles

&lit clues can be tricky to spot. The traits above do not apply all the time - a long clue with no trailing punctuation can as well be &lit. A rule of thumb: if you can "see" the answer based on the crossing letters or the wordplay, but you can't see the definition, check if it is an &lit type. You would need to read an &lit clue twice – once for its wordplay and another time for its definition.

In some &lit clues, the wordplay is only part of the clue – this variant is called the semi-&lit.

&lit clues are rare; it takes great skill to craft a good &lit. When you do come across them, relish the experience.

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5 comments

sancho said...

hi cant get my head round cryptic crosswords. way to travel in period ?(6,6) could you please explain.

Shuchi said...

Hi sancho

This looks like a double definition or cryptic definition, but not sure without any other letters. Does SEASON TICKET fit?

There's a separate page where you can post a clue for its explanation: Want Help Deconstructing Clues?. Do mention the known answer and source of the clue, too.

Shyam said...

Hi Shuchi

I just have a doubt on what a semi-&-lit is.

As I understand, the 'whole' clue has to be both the definition and the wordplay for an &-lit. For a semi-&lit, the wordplay is just a part of the clue.

So this
Slow-moving mice may get snapped up by them (4) OWLS*
is a semi-&lit, if I am right.

Can you please verify my understanding?

Thanks :)

Shuchi said...

Hi Shyam, You're right. Thanks for commenting on this post, I'll replace the OWLS and ICE clues with pure &lits.

Shuchi said...

Changes made, and a separate post about semi-&lits is up: Semi-&Lit Clues