A perennial source of confusion among solvers is in classifying clues as cryptic definition or &lit. In fact, according to a review of Secrets of the Setters, even the book trips up on this technicality – and it's written by the Guardian's Crossword Editor.
Here's a quick tip to dispel the confusion.
In an &lit clue, the whole clue is both the definition and the wordplay.
In a cryptic definition, the whole clue is only the definition. There is no separate wordplay.
Apply The Test
When in doubt, check the clue against this rule.
Picking a few examples that have generated discussion recently among Hindu Crossword solvers.
|THC 9863 (Sankalak): It creates a stir in the cup that cheers (8) TEASPOON|
Question: Does the whole clue also act as wordplay for TEASPOON?
Answer: No. There is no other wordplay in the clue.
Verdict: Cryptic Definition
|THC Sun 2587: Start of number trio's playing? (5) INTRO|
Answer: Yes. An INTRO can be an introductory passage of music.
Question: Does the whole clue also act as wordplay for INTRO?
Answer: Yes. N (start of 'number') + (TRIO)*, with "playing" as anagram indicator.
|THC 9863 (Sankalak): Where, in a restaurant, questions may be asked? (9) GRILLROOM|
Answer: No. The definition is only "(in a) restaurant".
Question: Does the whole clue also act as wordplay for GRILLROOM?
Answer: No. The wordplay is "where…questions may be asked?" - a pun on the word "grill".
Verdict: This is an unusual one, but I'd call it closer to being a d&cd i.e. a blend of double definition and cryptic definition, than a pure cryptic definition.
One from the Guardian…
|Guardian 25027 (Paul): What's round and called "tangerine", ultimately? (6) ORANGE|
Question: Does the whole clue also act as wordplay for ORANGE?
Answer: Yes. O (round) and RANG (called) [tangerin]E
Time to test your clue type identification skills!
Clues with their answers are given below. Which of these are CDs, which &lits, and which are neither?
FT 13403 (Loroso): How to describe something which marks a boundary? (8) HEDGEROW
Times 24427: Stole quietly away? (6) INCHED
Times 24548: Opening statement when meeting PM (4,9) GOOD AFTERNOON
THC 9849 (Gridman): Unreliable person useless for omelette-making? (3,3) BAD EGG
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