An ANAGRAM is all the letters of a word or phrase re-arranged to make another word or phrase; for instance, unlikely as it seems, the letters of CARTHORSE can be re-arranged to make ORCHESTRA. A cryptic crossword clue will include an anagram indicator, a word such as ‘crazy’, ‘broken’ or ‘worried’ that implies a state of confusion or change. So an ORCHESTRA can be a ‘crazy carthorse’ and a ‘chopped lemon’ may well turn out to be a MELON. The whole clue, or just a part of it, may be an anagram.

        “Mashed pears may be used offensively” = SPEAR

(“Mashed” is the anagram indicator, “pears” is the word to be “anagrammed” and the phrase “may be used offensively”, which describes a spear, is the definition.)

“A thousand mashed pears, or another fruit?” = GRAPES

(Two elements this time. “A thousand” is a grand, or “G”; “mashed pears” again is asking for an anagram of “pears”; and the solution, “Grapes”, is indeed “another fruit”).

The compiler will always give you a real word or phrase, but bear in mind that where an anagram is only part of the clue, the anagram you’re looking for might be just a jumble of letters. Look again at the clue we introduced earlier:

            “Herd that Tom let stampede” (6)

Well, “Tom” is a tom-cat, or just a CAT; “stampede” is an anagram indicator, and the anagram of “LET” that you’re looking for is “TLE”; that doesn’t make sense by itself, but add it to “CAT” and you have “CATTLE” – in fact, a “herd” of them! “Herd” is your definition, in this case.   

Here are a few anagram indicators you may meet: about, astray, broken, camouflaged, distorted, damaged, dance, differently, eccentric, faulty, frenzied, horribly, jumbled, mad, messy, mistaken, mixed, novel, organised, peculiar, perhaps, ragged, rebuilt, reorganised, scattered, scrambled, sick, smashed, stormy, stupid, torn, twisted, unravelled, violent, worried, wild. 

There are hundreds more!

Back ] Up ] Next ]