Thursday, July 21, 2011

Why Books Are Abbreviated So

books-ot-nt In my early days of crossword solving, when solving meant guessing answers and reverse engineering the wordplay, I figured that "books" often equalled OT or NT. Why this should be so was a mystery. I went along with it just as I accepted sailor = AB or soldiers = RE without understanding why.

For new solvers as puzzled by these abbreviations as I used to be, here is the simple explanation.

OT is short for Old Testament, NT for New Testament – they are both books of the Bible. The Old Testament is the collection of books that forms the first of two divisions of the Bible, the New Testament is the second, shorter division. Clues sometimes describe OT/NT as "good books".

Examples:

THC 9941 (Gridman): Steal books and get caught by one – it's mechanical (7) ROBOTIC
ROB (steal) OT (books), C (caught) next to I (one)

FT 13655 (Monk): Advance given by gambler and yours truly going over books (10) BETTERMENT
BETTER (gambler) ME (yours truly) NT (books)

You might also come across the singular form "book" for OT/NT, though this isn't usual practice.

Times 23702: Revolutionary book on heavens kept in stock (10) TROTSKYITE
OT (book) SKY (heavens), in TRITE (stock)

A Single Book

Sometimes setters of British crosswords use the word "book" or "good book" to mean any book of the Bible.

Times Jumbo 838: Disregard information about book eaten by parasites (10) NEGLIGENCE
GEN (information) reversed, GEN (book, short for Genesis) in LICE (parasites)

Times 24386: Observe good book being read when one’s out in the heat (6) SIESTA
sounds like 'see Esther' (observe good book)

Of these GEN appears most commonly. For the others this bookmark comes in handy: books of the Bible and their abbreviations.

Books = BB

The word "book" is also shortened to B, so "books" could be BB. As in:

Times 24855: Inappropriate, hoarding books along with daughter’s missing soundtrack (8) UNDUBBED
UNDUE (inappropriate) around BB (books), D (daughter)

Indy 7638 (Morph): Dirty books discovered in carriage (6) SHABBY
BB (books) in SHAY (carriage)

Caution! "Book" may not lead to an abbreviation at all. It may lead to a synonym (e.g. tome) , or to the name of a specific book.

Solve These

Times 24529: Collection of books obtained on line (3)
Times 24712: Had spin doctor turned over books, worried? (7)
Independent 1107 (Poins): Isn’t Dicky to answer on books by Swift? (7)
Times 24500: Briefly, something to entice you into books? (5)
Guardian 25118 (Paul): Books alongside maps almost leading to a US city (7)

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12 comments

Crucifer said...

Collection of books obtained on line (3)
LOT = "Collection": L(ine) + OT

Had spin doctor turned over books, worried? (7)
ROTATED = "Had spin": OT + ATE inside DR reversed

Isn’t Dicky to answer on books by Swift? (7)
INSTANT = "Swift": ISNT(anag) + A + NT

Briefly, something to entice you into books? (5)
BLURB = LUR(e) inside BB: &Lit (cute)

Books alongside maps almost leading to a US city (7)
ATLANTA = "US city": ATLA(s) + NT + A

(Still need to work on my explanations. Hope these are clear enough.)

Bhavan said...

Times 24529: Collection of books obtained on line (3)L(OT)
Times 24712: Had spin doctor turned over books, worried? (7)R(OT)(ATE)D<-
Independent 1107 (Poins): Isn’t Dicky to answer on books by Swift? (7) INST*A NT
My brain is aching from all the false capitalizations!
Times 24500: Briefly, something to entice you into books? (5)B(LUR-e)B
Guardian 25118 (Paul): Books alongside maps almost leading to a US city (7)ATLA(-s)(NT)A

SandhyaP said...

Collection of books obtained on line (3){L}{OT}

Had spin doctor turned over books, worried? (7){R{OT}{ATE}D<-}

Isn’t Dicky to answer on books by Swift? (7)?

Briefly, something to entice you into books? (5)B{LUR(-e)}B

Books alongside maps almost leading to a US city (7){ATLA(-s)}{NT}{A}

Shuchi said...

@Crucifer: Your explanations are clear as day - well done! I loved the BLURB clue too.

@Bhavan and @SandhyaP: The INSTANT clue is tricky, good thing Sandhya did not put herself through the brain-ache :)

anax said...

German books used as book-ends? (4)

I'm sorry. It just occurred to me this minute.

Shuchi said...

@anax: Is it N(OT)T - Jonathan Nott?

Shuchi said...

@anax: I've got the answer now. Very innovative wordplay!

Crucifer said...

@anax Yes. Very nice.

Shyam said...

What is the answer, Shuchi? A{BB}S or A{NT}S? Google did not help me with these!

Shuchi said...

@Shyam: The answer is a common German name in crosswords. Try again :)

Shyam said...

Last try: OT TO<-? OT placed symmetrically like bookends?

Shuchi said...

@Shyam: Absolutely!