An anagram is wordplay in which letters from a part of the clue are reordered to give the solution.
Anagram Clue Structure: The clue contains 3 parts -
2. Anagram Fodder - The letters to be rearranged
3. Anagram Indicator - "Signal" that letters are to be rearranged e.g. 'crazy', 'scrambled', 'out'. The anagram indicator is placed either before or after the anagram fodder, but adjacent to it.
The three parts - definition, fodder and indicator - are strung together in a phrase that forms the clue.
Example: Form of rule as yet without extravagance (9)
Here, "Form of" is the anagram indicator, "rule as yet" the fodder and "without extravagance" the definition. The answer, on anagramming "rule as yet", is AUSTERELY.
Anagram clues are not easy to camouflage for the setter, so are generally the first ones to get solved in a cryptic puzzle. Here are some tell-tale signs that give away that the clue at hand is an anagram clue.
Word/phrase suggesting confusion or rearrangement is likely to be an anagram indicator. Check the words alongside such a word/phrase - do they look like anagram fodder? Does the count of the letters in them tally with the number of letters required in the answer?
Clunky surface reading
Look out for awkward sentence construction.
Toy breeds trained to find out a place for pearls (6,3) OYSTER BED
How a dragon may look ere I defy stirringly? (4-4) FIRE EYED
In the clues above, the phrases 'toy breeds' and 'ere I defy' leap out to say they're anagram fodder. The indicators 'trained' and 'stirringly' confirm this further.
If proper nouns appear in the clue without obvious reason, there is a good chance that they're anagram fodder.
Sends out to stop Rex wandering (7) EXPORTS
He has constructive ideas for the Arctic, perhaps (9) ARCHITECT
The hallmark of a well-constructed anagram clue is a surface reading so smooth that the solver does not notice the anagram - the fodder is inconspicuous, the indicator blends in well with the rest of the clue.
Have a go at solving these not-so-obvious anagram clues:
Times when things look different (6)
Birds observed in slow motion (4)
- Other Clue Types: Hidden Words, Charades, Containers, Reversals, Letter Picking,
Letter Shifting, Letter Exchange, Deletions, Double Definitions,
Homophones, Substitutions, Acrostics, Cryptic Definitions, &Lit.
- Anagram Indicators
- Camouflaging Anagrams
- Which is the Anagrind?
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