As we know, most cryptic clues are of the form:
definition + alternate way to get the answer
Traditionally the "alternate way to get the answer" is called subsidiary indication (SI for short). The term 'wordplay' is its modern equivalent. I prefer 'wordplay' myself, which had led to some discussion in the comments last year. To me that sounds less formal, less formidable than 'subsidiary indication'.
It turns out that there is some disagreement about this usage. A web search led me to this interesting debate in the Crossword Centre message board archives, over the topic of Defining Wordplay [click Detail on that link to read the comments]. Most notably the setter Don Manley [comment#7] writes against equating wordplay with SI:
For me 'wordplay' is to 'subsidiary indication' as 'phonebook' is to 'telephone directory' - ie simpler and neater, but also dumber and less precise!
The main argument is that the apparent meaning of the term 'wordplay' is not consistent with the meaning crossworders give to it. Tim Moorey too writes in the initial chapters of his book How To Master The Times Crossword:
though he does not insist on it and goes on to use 'wordplay' to stand for SI.
Perhaps strictly accurately the terms should be word and letterplay.
What do other sites of note say?
All the crossword guides I recommend use the term 'wordplay' as an alternative name for 'subsidiary indication'. (Well, Big Dave's guide has separate definitions for the two terms but I think they lead to the same meaning.)
A Google search to compare their popularity on crossword-solving sites shows a clear preference for 'wordplay' over SI. The result volumes are in the range below:
|Site||Subsidiary Indication Count||Wordplay |
|Times for the Times||5||945|
|Big Dave's Crossword Blog||11||1360|
|The Hindu Crossword Corner||3||62|
[This considers indexed pages on Google from the sites. It includes the bloggers' as well as commenters' usage counts.]
What do you call it?
What's your preferred name for the part of the cryptic clue that is not the definition?
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