In the last installment, you learned that cryptic clues are composed of two halves, a definition and some wordplay; that the "surface sense" of a clue is deliberately misleading; that we can identify different types of wordplay by the use of "indicator" words; and that some common indicators for anagrams convey ideas like "re-arranged", "silly", "agitated" and even "berserk."

In the coming days, we'll learn about other common types of clue, and solve a new mini crossword each day using only the types of clues we've seen so far.

Clue Type: Hidden Words

A hidden word clue is fairly simple. For example, the fruit hidden in the phrase:
"keep each receipt"
is "keep each receipt"
i.e. peach

And the animal hidden in
"stop! on your marks"
is "stop! on your marks"
i.e. pony

Hidden words must cross the boundaries of at least two (and potentially more) words, and they can also jump across punctuation – all the better to trick you with, my dear.

Your First Hidden Word Clues


Here's a first hidden word clue for you to try. In this case, "has" functions as the indicator. Remember, if you can't figure it out you can just toggle the "hint letters" to get some grounding.

Here's another. Since we're just getting started, we'll tell you that the "Picasso's country" is the definition, "is essential to" is the indicator, and "Picasso's paintings" is the fodder for the hidden words.

(This one has the lovely property that the surface sense is actually literally true, irrelevant though that is to cryptics).

Hidden Word Indicators

As someone with multiple days of cryptic-solving experience, your next question will of course be: what are the indicators for a hidden word clue?

We're glad you asked. The indicators for hidden word clues can be subtle, but might have to do with

  • Words indicating possession: “has,” “owns,” “holds,” or even "[somebody]'s."
  • Words indicating an enclosure: “surrounds,” “encircles,” “is around,” etc.
  • Words indicating restraint

A quick note for the future: there's another type of clue, called a container, in which one word is placed inside another. For example, if you put the word me inside the word an you get the word amen. For obvious reasons, words for posession, enclosure and restraint can also be used to indicate containers. (Look, if you don't like having your brain messed with you need to find a different hobby).

Of course we won't include any container clues in this sequence until we've introduced them properly, but it's worth noting for future that you'll often see clues where you don't know whether it's a container or a hidden word until you get the answer.

Today's Cryptic: Hidden Words

Ready for your next cryptic? In this puzzle, there are four hidden word clues and – just to make sure you can still remember from last time! – two anagram clues as well.

Not bad for our second session, hey? In our next installment, we'll learn more new types of clues and get you started on a larger puzzle.


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