Clinical Data – October Update

Apart from the abbreviations, which are almost entirely taken from Chambers, the core entries in the Clinical Data lists were derived from successful clues in Azed competitions, supplemented by indicators which I myself have identified and others which I have seen used in puzzles and have felt to be acceptable. I periodically update the lists,

  • Adding as ‘Standard’ or ‘Advanced’ any indicators which I have identified as acceptable when setting my own puzzles
  • Removing indicators that I have had cause to question when setting puzzles
  • Marking as ‘Contentious’ indicators I have used in a puzzle and which have been rejected by a crossword editor (eg ‘reacting’ as a reversal indicator, rejected by The Listener)
  • Marking as ‘Contentious’ indicators Azed has explicitly stated that he will not accept (eg ‘extremely’ to indicate the first and last letters of a word, see the slip for AZ 2,330)
  • Adding, removing or changing the designation of indicators based on the suggestions of visitors to this site
  • Adding indicators used in successful Azed clues if I consider them to be acceptable

This month sees (as mentioned above) the inclusion of the following:

  • red (imperative, anagram indicator, definition ‘to disentangle’)
  • fitted (past participle, anagram indicator, definition ‘altered, adjusted’)
  • puzzled (past participle anagram indicator, definition ‘entangled’)
  • perplexed (past participle, anagram indicator, definition ‘tangled’)
  • infested past participle, anagram indicator, definition ‘disturbed’)
  • rent (past participle, anagram indicator, definition ‘torn apart with force’)
  • fickle (adj, anagram indicator, definition ‘changeable’)
  • cryptic (adj, anagram indicator, definition ‘mysteriously obscure’)
  • declines/declining/declined (transitive verb, expulsion/departure indicator, definition ‘to avoid’)
  • stifles/stifling/stifled (transitive verb, expulsion/departure indicator, definition ‘to suppress’)
  • leaderless (adj, first letter deletion indicator, definition ‘)
  • right about (adv, reversal indicator, definition ‘in the opposite direction’)

The following have been removed:

  • reacts/reacting (intransitive verb, reversal indicator, definition ‘to swing back in the opposite direction’) – apart perhaps from share prices, it doesn’t suggest something moving in reverse
  • most (adj, last letter deletion indicator – it does not mean the same things as ‘most of’)

Although they featured in successful Azed clues recently, I have not included ‘minimized‘ (first letter selection indicator), ‘entry‘ (first letter selection indicator), ‘bottom‘ (last letter selection indicator), ‘craftily‘ (anagram indicator) and ‘finicky‘ (anagram indicator), and won’t do unless they receive any support from readers, since I can’t justify any of them to myself based on the meanings ascribed by Chambers. Please use the comment form for this post if you have a view on these, or on any of the other indicators above.

The following have been marked as contentious:

  • a little (noun, first letter selection indicator – cannot be applied to a countable noun in the sense of ‘a small amount of’, ‘Please have a little cheese’ does not suggest a small piece from the front of any cheese, let alone a particular one)

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5 Responses

  1. Andy says:

    Wow, that was quick, many thanks. Although (I think) I understand the operation of grammar, the terminology I always forget, so will often get that wrong. I blame the English language curriculum in schools in the 1980s – we just about got told what a noun was, but little more.
    I agree that constructions that do not suggest a state continuing to the present are not acceptable, although I usually think of this in terms of deletion indicators, where if something has left, then I think it is reasonable to consider that it hasn’t come back.
    I see you have two entries for ‘on’, depending on level and direction. I have started to consider ‘on’ as being an acceptable juxtaposition indication either way irrespective of direction, as it can mean ‘attached to’. I guess some people like this, some don’t.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      I think that I was overcomplicating things regarding ‘on’ – in a basic crossword I would not use it in a down clue to mean ‘after’ because it would be likely to confuse solvers. However, if someone says that there’s a fly on the ceiling or the on the wall, it’s pretty clear where the fly is relative to the ceiling/wall, and ‘on’ is generally accepted as indicating any of the four possible juxtapositions (supported by several of the definitions in Chambers). This is now reflected in the list.

  2. Doctor Clue says:

    I have now added a page to the Clinical Data section with an initial list of juxtaposition indicators. The page is open for comments, and all readers should feel free to make suggestions as to how it could be improved.

  3. Doctor Clue says:

    Thanks, Andy – much appreciated.

    Regarding the anagram indicators shown as ‘past participles’, many of them can indeed be used both as participial adjectives and as past participles in passive constructions. I intended that only those potential anagram indicators shown by Chambers as adjectives with an appropriate meaning would be shown as such, but I have now done a check and recategorized a couple. Note that in ‘She perplexed me’, ‘perplexed’ is the past tense, not a participle. What is important when writing clues is that (as you suggest) any construction that refers to the past and does not suggest a state continuing into the present is not acceptable – this is particularly important with intransitive-only verbs, which is why their past participles don’t appear in the lists. ‘Stan wavers’, ‘Stan is wavering’ or ‘Stan will waver’ are all ok for ANTS, but ‘Stan wavered’ is not. In writing this, though, I realized that some valid participles, such as ‘evolved’ (evolve vt = ‘unroll, unravel’) had been omitted from the list. This has now been rectified; at the same time I have removed ‘stinking’ and ‘stinks’, for which I can find no justification.

    I particularly like the suggestion of juxtaposition indicators and will set to work on a first draft. Replacement constructs are perhaps the most controversial of all, with different editors having quite different ideas about what is acceptable (and the precise phrasing and punctuation being crucial), but I’m sure that I can come up with something. I shall be looking forward to your feedback!

  4. Andy says:

    Thank you for your excellent website, my go to resource to find suitable indicators when writing clues. One comment – I consider your past participle anagram indicators to actually be acting as adjectives in the cryptic grammar (‘she is perplexed’ rather than ‘she perplexed me’), and use them as such. People seem not to like past tense indicators for some reason.
    A couple of suggestions for categories, too, that may be useful for setters and solvers: juxtaposition indicators such as ‘meeting’ and ‘supported by’, and replacement indicators, such as ‘for’ and ‘takes over’.