Saturday 7 February 2009


In a container clue, the solution is broken into parts, and one part is embedded within the other.

Some words that can form container clues: cryptic-crossword-container-clue-type-example


Container Clue Structure: The clue consists of -
1. Solution definition
2. Definition for the outer word (container)
3. Definition for the inner word (content)
4. Containment Indicator – This can either indicate that:
    (A) Inner word is to be put inside outer word – e.g. held, occupying, flanked, inside. 
    (B) Outer word is to be taken around inner word – e.g. admitting, frames, swallowing, outside.

Example (using container indicator type (A)):
THC 9450: Building for the workers in principle (8) TENE{MEN}T
Solution definition: building
Outer word definition: principle = TENET, Inner word definition: the workers = MEN
Containment indicator: in

Example (using container indicator type (B)):
NIE 01-Feb-09: Horseman capturing a freebooter (6) R{A}IDER
Solution definition: freebooter
Outer word definition: horseman = RIDER, Inner word definition: a = A
Containment indicator: capturing

Container Clue Characteristics

  • Container clues are quite similar to charade clues – in both clue types, the solution is broken into smaller parts. The difference is that the parts are placed in sequence in a charade but one inside the other in a container clue. Also, charades may not have indicators whereas container clues must.

  • Container clues are often combined with abbreviations, or bits and pieces of words (such as first/last letters).
    Times 24132: Problem about university affected person (6) POSE{U}R
    Times 24131: Astonishment, securing extremely youthful stage role (7) SH{YL}OCK

  • The outer/inner words may not have straight definitions; they may in turn be clued as anagrams, reversals etc. In such cases, the relevant indicator would be present in the clue at the appropriate position.
    Container + Anagram:
    THC 9443: Showing clemency, allow nine to dance inside (7) LE{NIEN*}T
    The inner word (NINE) is to be anagrammed; the anagram indicator 'to dance' is placed next to it.

    Container + Inner Word Charade:
    NIE 04-Feb-09: Look includes a ship of the line (5) L{A SS}O
    Note that words that act as fillers in some clues (such as 'a', 'on') are often part of the solution in  container clues.

    Container + Outer Word Charade:
    Times 24131: Material in gold now at first available in a strip (7)OR GA{N}ZA
    In clues that combine other clue types with containers, the word order in the clue is important - in this case for example, the containment indicator can only be positioned between the definitions for N and GAZA. The word order gives you hints for how to arrive at the solution.
  • At times there may be nested embedding of words i.e. the contained word contains another contained word.
    Guardian 24138: Double jeopardy securing work, then left in fix (12) DOPPLEGANGER
    DANGER around {OP + {PEG around L}}

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