Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Alternative…OR should that be alternatively?

or-alternative Alternative = OR is standard fare in cryptic clues, but is it totally accurate? I can see OR as 'alternatively', not as 'alternative'. Am I missing something obvious or is this one of those Roman numeral things that have become valid through wide use?

Accurate or not, being able to use 'alternative' to clue OR does make life easy for the crossword setter. OR comes up frequently in grid fills and it helps to have a synonym for it that can be placed flexibly in the clue.

Enjoy these clues in which 'alternative' points to OR.

Everyman 3416: South American republic holding alternative view (8)

NIE (Rufus): Best alternative under the sun (7)

FT 14029 (Loroso): Worry about question over alternative north-south divide? (7)

Guardian 25555 (Boatman): They may be right; the alternative is to embrace evidence, ultimately (8)

THC 10452 (Neyartha): A form of frozen water is no alternative to licorice that is well-cooked (6)

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9 comments

Lakshmi Vaidyanathan said...

Everyman 3416: South American republic holding alternative view (8)PANORAMA Anno: PANAMA+ OR
THC 10452 (Neyartha): A form of frozen water is no alternative to licorice that is well-cooked (6)ICICLE Anno: no alternative =LIC(OR)ICE - ICICLE

Vinod Raman said...

I've searched far and wide to check how 'alternative' could mean OR, but without success. So, although it has become quite common in cryptics, I'm not a fan of this usage. For me, OR is Alternatively / As an alternative.

Shyam said...

Does the equivalence happen in software circles? As in,

- The (alternative/OR) condition in the program was wrong.

Nadathur Rajan said...

1) PAN(OR)AMA
2) (OUTDO)(OR)
3) {E(QUA)AT}{OR}
4) {THE}{OR}{I(E)S}
5) {LIC[-or]ICE}* = ICICLE

raju umamaheswar said...

Panama holding alternative OR --PANORAMA= VIEW

ICICLE-- no alternative in licorice (remove OR) anagram of LICICE brings in ICICLE- a force of frozen water

raju umamaheswar said...

You have an alternative OR alternatively-- a question of parsing the sentence?

This or that?

The alternative is your choice !

eXternal said...

I am also not a fan of alternative for OR. don't forget we also have gold or golden at our disposal.

Lakshmi Vaidyanathan said...

FT 14029 (Loroso): Worry about question over alternative north-south divide?(7)
(Solved this like a geography question)
What is the anno for this? OR is there ,EAT for worry?

Shuchi said...

@Vinod Raman: With you on this.

@Shyam: It's not usual to replace OR with 'alternative' when we talk of a software program. But point taken, a fair defence for a setter who uses it.

@Nadathur Rajan: You're on a roll, all correct answers again. A small typo - your annotation for #3 has an extra A.

@eXternal: Oh yes...'gold' for OR used to be a big source of confusion to me in my early days of solving. I have been meaning to write something about the ways in which 'gold' gets used in cryptic clues. Thanks for reminding me of it.

@Lakshmi Vaidyanathan: Eat = worry as in, 'What's eating you?'

The annotation is: EAT (worry) around QU (question), (OR) alternative.