Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Stuttering Clues

stuttering In a stuttering clue, a letter or syllable gets repeated in the clue and the answer follows the same pattern of repetition. To show by example:

THC 9318 (Gridman): Whispering America rises twice to c-complain (9) SUSURRANT
RANT is "complain"; because of the stuttering effect, "c-complain" becomes R-RANT.

We don't come by stuttering clues too often but this is by no means a new device – Ximenes mentioned it in his 1966 book Ximenes on the Art of the Crossword, with the remark that it's entertaining if it isn't overdone. Here is a sample clue by the old master – an interesting one as as it repeats not one letter but a speech pattern:

Ximenes: I was thought magical, but I'm fer-futile (7) VERVAIN
futile = VAIN; fer-futile = VER-VAIN!

Caution: letter repetition isn't always stuttering

Stuttering clues are hard to disguise, so setters play the same trick on us as with the other easy clue type, anagrams [read more on misleading anagram signals] - they make other clues look like stuttering clues.

THC 8622: Tendency to t-tear (5) TREND
T and REND (tear). "R" does not get repeated as we'd expect it to. The stuttering effect is for the surface only - just a way to get the letter "T" into the answer.

Solve These

Azed 1989: Fur flying in wild d-duel primed for a milkmaid? (8)
FT 13450 (Falcon): Odd, Eric pinching c-coin of little value (9)

A clue for Hindi film viewers - something the most parodied stutterer of filmdom, Rahul of Darr, would say:

Chaos when I'd flipped over K-Kiran (8)

Related Posts:

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Venkatesh said...

{DI SA<-}{R-RAY}

Albatross said...


2. C-coin ---> CCENT

3. K-Kiran is a ray so --> RRAY
When I'd = asid flipped => DISA


anax said...

There are occasions when the stutter isn't shown as 'x-x...' in the clue. This one is from a Times puzzle of mine from a few years ago (can't remember the number!):

A clergyman, stutteringly faithful (8) ---U---E

maddy said...

Interesting post as usual and belated new year year wishes to you.



Anax - A C-CURATE - Lovely clue

Shuchi - is it DI SA<-{R-RAY}
Did you make it up? awesome stuff, just couldn't stop smiling. This will be the first entry in my list for the best clues (I ve come across) in 2011 :)

Shuchi said...

Thanks @anax. Great clue.

@Albatross, @maddy: Well-cracked. I did indeed make up DISARRAY, thanks for liking it :)

SandhyaP said...

Great clues for DISARRAY & ACCURATE :)

Shuchi said...

Thanks Sandhya!

KISHORE said...

Utterly Butterly Stutterly d-delicious. How did I miss to see this write up?

Shuchi said...

Hi Kishore, Use RSS, you'll get instant home delivery of blog updates :) Especially if you read several blogs, an RSS reader is THE best way to keep track.

KISHORE said...

Thanks, have gone in for the email option

SandhyaP said...

There was a stuttering clue in today's The Telegraph:

English g-gala may be flowery (6)

KISHORE said...

A parody on stuttering clues, the trailing stutter ( I dont think a stutterer repeats last alphabets/sounds):

A highlight-t of the Beatles (5)

Shuchi said...

Came across this ultra-stuttering clue by Paul in the Guardian:

Those hi-i-i-tting birds (3-6)