Monday, October 4, 2010

Neat Definitions 3

Each Clue explanation is divided into Analysis, Aesthetics and Afterword.

Visual Key to Clue Analysis :
Definition : BOLD
Wordplay : Italics with keywords underlined as well
Link : Normal

D. Work in a cause : that's the aim of running mates. (9) _ _ O _ _ _ _ _ _


Work in a cause : that's the aim of running mates.

With an O present in the answer, it is likely the word OP which stands in for Work. A Cause can be substituted(!) by Element. OP in ELEMENT gives us ELOPEMENT which is what running mates aim for!


The surface reading is tight.On the first reading,you would think of running mates as those who are vice-presidential candidates in an upcoming election.This is because work in a cause reinforces the impression of people committing themselves publicly to win an election.


The hardest feature in the clue is the substitution of a cause with element.This synonym is uncommon and not all thesauruses have it. Are they truly interchangeable? Can you construct a sentence where either word can be used without changing the meaning of the sentence?If you can, do share.

E. How reactor may be occupied reproducing relatively closely? (10) _ _ _ R _ _ _ _ _ _


How reactor may be occupied reproducing relatively closely?

There are several types of reactors, among which breeder might catch your eye.Reproducing is breeding.And reproducing relatively closely would qualify as inbreeding.


The phrase of how a reactor may be occupied suggests that the answer is connected with its function - since occupied hints at what it does. The answer to this phrase is " in breeding" since its a breeder reactor.The wordplay portion is a definition of sorts. Hence the clue comes under "double definitions" category. The neat definition, however, is reproducing relatively closely which is a nifty way of describing "inbreeding".The setter separates in from breeding to fashion the wordplay portion with just five words coming up with an alternative definition!


Notice that the setter used may be instead of "is".The first expresses possibility while the second expresses certainty.Because there are a few types of reactors, he cannot use "is". Only the breeder reactor fits the wordplay perfectly.The clue is fair to the solver in that may be is a pointer to looking up the range of reactors. From that range, the solver can narrow down a candidate which fits nicely with the definition.

F. Check plant for new life. (13) _ _ _ N _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


Check plant for new life.

Check = Rein and Plant = Carnation
New Life = Reincarnation


Reincarnation is the rebirth of a soul in a new body."Start a new life" is a term commonly used after a big change in one's life. Think about it! The biggest change to one's life is death. Then you start a new life - which is precisely what reincarnation is. This neat definition is a vivid example of exaptation - a term mostly used in evolutionary biology. Two sets of words, previously unconnected, find new life in one another!


The substitution of plant with carnation will tut-tut tongues,snort noses,raise eyebrows or shake heads in some quarters.
After all, carnation is an example of a plant. The clue should have read plant,say or plant, for example.
Look at clue E where "may be" qualified the accuracy of the definition.
Here there is no such qualification. Is this valid? I would say so.
Over time, the presence of words like plant,tree,bird,fish,dog,cat,bone,etc in clues has come to imply that what the setter is asking for as a substitute is an example.
So regular crossword solvers no longer tut-tut tongues,snort noses,raise eyebrows or shake heads.They hunker down and open up their crossword dictionaries to look for suitable substitutes.

Here is the final triplet of neat definitions.

G. Ridiculous two hours pay is on offer to one at bar. (5,4,6) _ _ A _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ O _

H. British Rail in a struggle to find lender. (9) _ _ _ R _ _ _ _ _

I. Labour Party unlikely to split? (5,4) _ _ A _ _ _ _ N _


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