Double Definitions

As we've discussed, every cryptic clue has two halves: a "straight" definition and a piece of wordplay. But one type of cryptic clue, the double definition, doesn't exactly have any wordplay: it just has two different straight definitions, one after the other.

"How is that even cryptic?," I hear you ask. Well, in order to preserve crypticity, the two definitions are generally very different meanings (and sometimes different pronunciations) that share the same spelling – things like MINUTE (as in "60 seconds") and MINUTE (as in "very tiny").

Double Definitions: I Have Very Little To Say About Them

Look: double definitions are as valid as any other clue-type. They are respected by their friends, they have rich inner lives, they are worthy of love and happiness (as we all are, naturally). But they are not so great for the Cryptic Crossword Tutorial Writer, because honestly.... what can I say about them?

There's a definition, then there's another definition; they're often weirdly hard, to me, I guess because your brain gets stuck on a certain parsing of the words and it's hard to think up the alternative senses; still, once you know the answer they generally seem obvious.

They tend to be quite short? If a clue is 2-4 words, it could be a double def?

I'm sorry, that's all I've got, that's all my wisdom on Double Definitions.

Let's try some examples. All I can say is... give them a try, and if you don't get it just hit the Hint Letters Toggle or even Reveal Answer. There's no obvious way to get un-stuck on a double definition clue, and in a real crossword you could always solve other clues first and then use the crossings to help you out.

Remember, the phrase-breaks between definition and wordplay (or in this case definition and second-definition) can go absolutely anywhere, and often in an unexpected place: in this case it was "Like bacon" and "made better", but it could in theory have been "Like" and "bacon made better", or "Like bacon made" and "better".

Again, what can I say? It's a word that means "Bite", and also means "Victor". Any words I add here just feel like filler.

Double Definitions Have No Indicators

By convention, there’s no need for indicators on double defition clues. (This is also true of charade clues, you might remember – charade clues will tend to be longer, though).

Today's Cryptic: Double Definitions

Alright! Time for today's Mini Cryptic, where every answer is a double definition. Fun fact: our endlessly talented cryptic constructor Andrew Ries initially told me that, for technical reasons, it would be hard to make a puzzle that was 100% double definitions, but constructors love a meta-puzzle so very shortly afterwards he came up with a double-definitions mini anyway.

Thanks so much for reading this sequence. Just to get your excitement up, let me mention that our next installment will involve your first multi-clue-type cryptic puzzle – you're practically a pro already!

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