Sunday 22 March 2009


[A new instalment in the series of posts about cryptic clue types, meant for beginners. Check out this link for clue types covered earlier: Cryptic Clue Types]

deletion-clue-typeIn deletion clues, part(s) of a word are removed to get the solution. 

Some examples of text deletion for this clue type:

Deletion Clue Structure: The clue contains/indicates these parts -

  1. Definition
  2. Word from which letters are to be deleted – Generally you need to work out this word from the wordplay, it will not be given away directly in the clue.
  3. Deletion indicator There are different types of deletion clues with their own styles of indicators. Some signal the removal of letters by position (such as, subtract the first letter or last), others by specifying the letters/word to be removed (such as, drop M-I-L from FAMILY to get a word for fairy).
    The next section takes them on in detail.
  4. Letters to be deleted – This appears in clues where the deletion is not by position but by indicating the letters/word to be removed. The deletion component can be mentioned directly or cryptically. Standard abbreviations are often used to indicate specific letters for removal.

For example, a clue for deleting E from KITE could use either of these ploys:
          by position: flier loses its tail
          by specific letters: flier lacks energy

Types Of Deletion

Delete the head: Letters are removed from the beginning of a word. This uses indicators like: beheaded, start off, without introduction. 
ET 3497: Head off champion worker (7)(-p)ARTISAN
ET 3854: Suggest not starting in a flabby way (5) {-l}IMPLY

Delete the tail: Letters are removed from the end of a word. This uses indicators like: back off, mostly, without end.
FT 12705: Circuits almost falling (4) LAPS{-e}
ET 3855: Alter without finishing the last word (4) AMEN{-d}

Delete both ends: Letters are removed from both edges of a word. This uses indicators like: losing margins, trimmed, without limits. The number of letters removed are the same on both sides of the word.
Limitless outpouring? Exactly (3) {-s}PAT{-e}
Little shark edges away from diver's equipment (3) {-s}CUB{-a}

Delete the middle: Letters are removed from the centre of a word. This uses indicators like: cored, disheartened, empty. The centre is the exact centre – when "disheartened", a even-lettered word will drop an even number of letters from its middle, an odd-lettered word will drop an odd number of letters.
Dull speeches, hollow assurances (6) PRO{-mi}SES
THC 9392: Resided almost comfortably in empty dugout (5) D WEL{-l} T [Two deletions are happening here: "almost" removes the tail of WELl, "empty" removes the centre of DugouT.]

Delete specified words/letters: This type defines the word(s) or letter(s) to be removed. This uses indicators like: cutting, missing, struck. Here the indicator signals removal in general, it does not say from which position the letter should be removed.
Times 4309: Cold and uncertain? Not very (4) {-v}AGUE
THC 9409: State a lie goes out of estrangement (6) {- a lie}NATION

Try solving these deletion clues:
Plunderer loses head to go mad (5)
Charge for rehearsal when play is cancelled (5)


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Anonymous said...

Plunderer loses head to go mad (5) IRATE. Remove head of PIRATE.

What is the answer of the other one?

Shuchi said...

You've got that one right, Pranav.

Let's wait for others to try before I give out the answer for the second clue.

Raghunath said...

Charge for rehearsal when play is cancelled (5) [B]PR[/B] {ACT}[B] ICE[/B]

Shuchi said...

Perfect, raghunath!

PS: The Orkut tags don't work here. For HTML tags, put angular brackets in place of square ones.

Raghunath said...

Charge for rehearsal when play is cancelled (5) PR {ACT} ICE

Shuchi said...

The answer is correct, I'd just annotate it as PR{-act}ICE to distinguish it from a container clue.

Shuchi said...

Interesting clue with deletion of both ends:

Guardian 27646 (Arachne): Member of crowd texts Mrs May after banks fail (5) EXTRA; [t]EXT[s] [m]R[s] [m]A[y]; after banks fall => drop the first and last letters