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.
- Other Clue Types: Anagrams, Hidden Words, Charades, Containers,
Deletions, Double Definitions, Homophones, Substitutions,
Acrostics, Cryptic Definitions, Reversals.
- The difference between Cryptic Definitions and &Lit clues
- Semi-&Lit clues
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