Do you know why crosswords use "many" to clue "M"? I couldn't find any sound justification for it, but I'm pretty sure I've seen it done in
- reader Martin DeMello wrote in to ask.
"many = M" is indeed a controversial abbreviation. Chambers Crossword Manual by Don Manley marks "many = M" with a †, the dagger to indicate "unsound/not liked by all Ximeneans". The equation comes from the Roman numeral M for 1000, which one could call a large number. As there are two levels of indirection going on here: "many" to "thousand", and "thousand" to "M", purists do not approve.
This is a handy shorthand for the setter though - the word "many" can fit into variety of clue surfaces. Examples of use abound in published grids.
Guardian 25036 (Rufus): Many a shipwreck could be bad luck (6) MISHAP
M (many) (A SHIP)*
Indy 8306 (Alchemi): Moves very quickly, leaving many animal homes (4) ZOOS
ZOOMS (moves very quickly) - M (many)
You may well ask, if "many" is "M" because thousand is a large number, why not any other large number such as C (hundred) or D (five hundred)? You have your answer below.
Guardian 24852 (Rufus): Many have soft features (6) DOWN
D (many) OWN (have)
FT 14298 (Cinephile): Many persist to smarten sports facility (8,4) CHANGING ROOM
C (many) HANG IN (persist) GROOM (smarten)
I can't recall the use of "many" to clue a Roman numeral in the Times crossword, though.
What do you think of this cryptic abbreviation?
Clues in which "many" leads to a large number. Enjoy solving.
Guardian 24722 (Shed): Writer securing many books in end of administration (12)
FT 14559 (Cincinnus): China provides many a garden feature (8)
Guardian 25505 (Arachne): Many large moons oddly observed in the universe (6)
Guardian 25736 (Araucaria): Spell Shah Jahan's city with many a starry figure (8)
Guardian 25976 (Rufus): Gong brings many in to dinner, for example (5)
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