Most clue type indicators tell us exactly which way the wordplay works.
A swallowing B => A is the outer word, B the inner in a container clue.
A held in B => A is the inner word, B the outer in a container clue.
A lacking B => letter of B are to be removed from A in a deletion clue.
A discarded by B => letters of A are to be removed from B in a deletion clue.
Not all indicators are so clear-cut; some can logically work both ways. Here's a look at some such indicators.
To stop is:
- to fill or close, as in stopping a hole
- to check or intercept, as in stopping a landslide
So, A stopping B in a cryptic clue can mean:
A acting as stopper inside B
Times 24633: Stopping revolt at last, become elevated as emperor (5) TITUS
[revol]T, in SUIT (become) reversed
A taking hold of B
Times 24692: Heart stopping left a problem (7) TICKLER
TICKER (heart) around L (left)
To leave is:
- to go away from, as in boy leaving hometown
- to neglect or let go of, as in boy leaving math lessons (to study literature, maybe)
So, A leaving B in a cryptic clue can mean:
A going away from B
ET3382: Airmen leaving flashy angle (5) FISH
RAF (airmen) going away from RAFFISH (flashy)
A letting go of B
Times 23712: Notices ducks leaving river by double bend (5,3) SMALL ADS
S (double bend) MALLARDS (ducks), letting go of R (river)
"Out of" implies:
- lacking, as in pen out of ink
- going away from, as in PM out of country
So, A out of B in a cryptic clue can mean:
A lacking B
Everyman 3341: Fish cigarette out of front of sideboard (5) GAPER
GASPER (cigarette) lacking S[ideboard]
A going away from B
ET 3150: Top performer right out of the running (3) ACE
R (right) going away from RACE (running)
To pack is:
- to cover or envelop, as in packing oneself in warm woollens
- to fill, as in crowds packing a train
So, A packing B in a cryptic clue can mean:
A covering B
Guardian Quiptic (Pan): Take a gamble, packing thin cover for bed (7). BLANKET
BET (take a gamble) covering LANK (thin)
A filling B
Times 24406: Way to pack fodder to be able to last through the winter (5) HARDY
RD (way) filling HAY (fodder)
Enjoy solving these clues with double-edged indicators.
Times 24390: Frugal poet stopping penny payment (9) __O__D___
Times 22604: What transvestite does to thwart coercion, leaving university (5-5) C____ ____S
Times Championship Final 2010: Girl married out of spite (5)
- Without Ado: Another multi-purpose indicator
- Reverse Anagrams: Anagram fodder and anagrind in the answer, not in the clue!
- Wordplay Inversion: When you're supposed to do the opposite of what the indicator says
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