Cryptic Clue

Mysterious vault in first century...

Don’t be fooled: it’s not what it seems. These are clues that deviously conceal their real meaning behind wacky wordplay and strange rules.

Cryptic Clue example puzzle.png

1. Flowers that ascended south
6. Simplicity surrounding real wipe out
7. A mode of transport finally gone wrong
8. Princess daughter returned for money
9. A sty messy with his last remains

1. Delivers through regular freehand use
2. Revolution for Bitcoin, in part
3. Odd statue near steam bath
4. South American announces class assignment
5. Prophets are timeless guides

Fundamentally, the structure of a cryptic clue is that it has

  • a definition part — kinda like a standard crossword clue, but often more vague/more ambiguous; and
  • a wordplay part — looks like a sentence but actually contains instructions on how to manipulate words or letters.

The definition part is always at the start or end. However, the clue doesn’t tell you where one part ends and the other begins!

This example puzzle only showcases a small selection of the vast variety of wordplay mechanics.

Cryptic Clue example solution.png

1. Flowers = ROSES (def.); ascended = ROSE + south = S
6. Simplicity = EASE, surrounding real = R; wipe out = ERASE (def.)
7. A (lit.) + mode of transport = BUS + finally gone = E (last letter of gone); wrong = ABUSE (def.)
8. Princess = RANI + daughter = D; returned (written backwards); for (glue); money = DINAR (def.)
9. A sty (lit.) messy (rearrange A STY, giving STAY) + with his last = S (last letter of his); remains = STAYS (def.)

1. Delivers = READS (def.); through (glue); regular freehand use (take every other letter)
2. Revolution = ORBIT (def.); for Bitcoin, in part (containment)
3. Odd statue near (take odd-positioned letters); steam bath = SAUNA (def.)
4. South American = SA (abbrev.); announces (homophone of “SA”); class assignment = ESSAY (def.)
5. Prophets = SEERS (def.); are (glue); timeless (remove letter T from) guides = STEERS

Note that the concept of cryptic clues need not be limited to crosswords. Cryptic clues can be used to simply clue a list of words required by a puzzle.

Example Puzzles[edit | edit source]

(add puzzles that use this element here)