Sometimes you may be asked to delete one or more letters in a clue, using an indicator such as without or losing. It may be a particular letter or group of letters to be removed:
“Take a pulse and bemoan the absence of a doctor” = BEAN
(Absence is your indicator for a deletion. Delete the “MO” – a Medical Officer, or doctor – from BEMOAN to get BEAN, a pulse.)
You may be told not which letter or letters to remove, but where to remove them from – the beginning, the middle or the end. Let’s look at these three types.
FROM THE BEGINNING: Indicators include first off, don’t start, beheaded, headless, leaderless, unopened.
(Yes, I know, it’s revolting, isn’t it? But pigs are swine; decapitate them to get WINE!)
FROM THE MIDDLE: Indicated by, for example, heartless, losing heart, empty, gutless. Often used to clue awkward two-letter groups; for instance a heartless man is MN, a heartless dog gives you DG, and . . .
(Removing the middle of BOTTLE, TT, leaves it empty, and results in BOLE, the trunk of a tree.)
FROM THE END: Look out for endless, unfinished, almost, mostly, tailless, incomplete, last off.
(Simply delete the last letter of BOOK to give you BOO.)
Of course, all of these may be used for elements of a clue, as well as for the whole clue.
Remember No.3, Bridges and Burials? A word-in-word can also feature as a deletion. We looked at the word “denoted” and saw that it is NOT buried in DEED – DE(NOT)ED. But consider this:
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