Crosswords UK

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Saturday 2nd July, 2022

No. 5,366

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Anagrams are probably the best known form of cryptic clue as they crop up in 'straight' crosswords, quizzes and even newspaper headlines! Simply put, the solution to an anagram clue is a rearrangement of a selection of letters to form a new word. In easier crosswords or quizzes, the anagram is usually the entire clue and often indicated as being one, e.g. (anag). However anagrams in the dailies tend to be more subtle and it's not always (or even often!) obvious that the clue is an anagram!

Fortunately, usually there are 'hints' within the clue that identify an anagram is on the cards. These hints are typically simple words like 'perhaps', 'strange', 'about', 'oddly' and so on but you should be suspicious of virtually any word or phrase that means 'change' in some way.

Here's a straightforward one:

Unusually gifted person showing restlessness (6)

Here it's the word unusually that is the hint we're looking for an anagram. Once you identify the 'straight' part of the clue (see the basics) as 'person showing restlessness', the answer is soon to follow. It's 'fidget'.

Of course, they're rarely that easy and most puzzles will 'spice up' an anagram by using more than one word and/or including one or more single letters in the mix. Take this for example:

Dish left in hacienda to be cooked (9)

This is a little more devious as firstly the hint for an anagram isn't as obvious. If you spot that it's 'to be cooked' then you might think 'hacienda' is the anagram, but hacienda is only 8 letters and we need 9. The actual answer is 'enchilada' because you need to use the 'l' from the beginning of 'left' to complete the anagram with hacienda. It's quite common to find whole words being used to indicate just their initial letter without any obvious hint. Experience will help you spot these 'add-ins'.

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