A rare clue type for blocked grid puzzles, the composite anagram (aka compound anagram) is an advanced variant of the anagram clue. In a composite anagram, you need to find the answer to the question: what can I mix with a given word or phrase, to get another given word or phrase?
Take this example:
Azed 1997: Seen this Indian tourist destination? For 'Indus a rupee, that's fantastic (7)
Read the clue in this way to solve the composite anagram:
SEEN + [a word for "this Indian tourist destination"] = (INDUS A RUPEE)*
What Indian tourist destination can you mix with SEEN, to get an anagram of INDUS A RUPEE? The solution is obviously an anagram of (INDUSARUPEE – SEEN) i.e. (IDUARUP)*, which gives you UDAIPUR.
Composite anagrams are not often seen in daily puzzles – some papers like the Times do not allow them as they are considered too complex. They are staple fare for barred grid crosswords like the Azed.
Let's try another one:
Azed 1860: Soup polished off with relish? Oh, i.e., --! (6)
Read this as:
(SOUP + RELISH)* = OH IE + [a word to fill in "—"]
What word can you mix with OHIE, to get an anagram of SOUP RELISH? (SOUPRELISH – OHIE)* i.e. (SUPRLS)*, leads you to the answer - SLURPS. An &lit clue.
How to solve a composite anagram?
- Find its weakest spot – the anagram indicator.
- Follow exactly what the clue says. Advanced cryptics balance complexity with strict rules of fairness – there won't be any superfluous words or loose wordplay.
- Count the letters, make sure the two sides add up to equal length.
- The definition may appear in the middle of the clue. Look for definition placeholders like "this".
- Composite anagrams are often of &lit type – check if it works to read the whole clue as the definition.
Put the last tip into action - solve these two composite anagram clues:
Azed 1962: Live through a tough winter? This thing's unsettling (7)
Azed 1987: Yes and no? Refuse thus as on forms (4)
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