Juxtaposition Indicators

Juxtaposition indicators tell the solver that an element produced by one part of the wordplay should be placed either before or after another element. So in the clue “Bog plant succeeded at front of border” for SEDGE, ‘at front of’ simply tells the solver that the S (‘succeeded’) is followed by EDGE (‘border’), while in “Running behind Chinese distance champion” for LION the ON (‘Running’) is to be placed after the LI (‘Chinese distance’).

Purists will generally try to avoid juxtaposition indicators which tell the solver that element 1 is to be placed before element 2 as these represent superfluous text, but sometimes the surface reading will demand the inclusion of a ‘no action required’ indicator (such as the ‘at front of’ in the first example above).

Although ‘has’ (or its abbreviation, apostrophe-s) is often seen as a ‘before’ indicator, I can’t find a meaning of the verb ‘have’ which justifies this and therefore I have excluded it from the list, along with similar terms such as ‘gets’ and ‘receives’; however, many setters do use these verbs to indicate juxtaposition, and therefore solvers should be prepared to encounter them.

When using verbal juxtaposition indicators in the present tense, such as ‘introduces’ or ‘follows’, setters should take particular care that the cryptic reading of the clue is syntactically valid. “Sweden introduces European tax returns for staff” for STAVE – S (‘Sweden’) followed by E VAT (‘European tax’) reversed (‘returns’) – contains two main verbs;  ‘returned’ or ‘returning’ would be fine.

The list below can be sorted alphabetically on Indicator (default), Before/After, or Across/Down, in either ascending (default) or descending sequence. The Search box allows full and partial searching of the first two columns in the list.

Date last modified: 01/05/24
Recent changes: (01/05/24) added at end of, tailing/tails, tipping/tips, tipped by/tipped with.

IndicatorAlternative form(s)Before or AfterAcross or DownType
added toEitherEitherStandard
adjacent toEitherEitherStandard
ahead ofBeforeEitherStandard
at end ofAfterEitherStandard
bolstered byBeforeDownStandard
borne byBeforeDownStandard
byjoined byEitherAcrossStandard
capped byAfterDownStandard
close onAfterEitherAdvanced
close toclose byEitherEitherStandard
covered withcovered byAfterDownStandard
crowned byAfterDownStandard
followed byBeforeEitherStandard
frontingfronts/in front ofBeforeAcrossStandard
headed byAfterEitherStandard
held up byBeforeDownStandard
heralded byAfterEitherStandard
holding upholds upAfterDownStandard
inferior toAfterDownStandard
leading leadsBeforeEitherStandard
led byAfterEitherStandard
next toEitherEitherStandard
prior toBeforeEitherStandard
superior toBeforeDownStandard
supported byBeforeDownStandard
tipped withtipped byBeforeEither Standard
topped withtopped byAfterDownStandard
underpinned byBeforeDownStandard
uponon top ofBeforeDownStandard
ushered in byAfterEitherStandard
ushering inushers inBeforeEitherStandard
withtogether withEitherEitherStandard

11 Responses

  1. Dr. Daniel Price says:

    Ah, but the chemist (chemical scientist) would routinely employ “vicinal” in her/his vocation and therefore in the construction of cryptic clues.

    Note, however, that the comment should not imply endorsement of this usage.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Fair point. I’ve been waiting a very long time for my Chemistry degree to pay dividends, so the opportunity seems too good to miss. I’m thinking of clues like ‘Humourless radical, one with very little brain (4)’ and ‘Isomer of methanol escaping (2,3,3)’.

      • Dr. Daniel Price says:

        Hah! As you may have surmised, my undergraduate degree is in Chemistry. “Isomer” is a fitting anagram indicator, but I would be leery of employing it; I have already been called out for a using “racemic mixture” to encode ‘RS’. A tester of my early grids has accused me of overreliance on references to chemistry, but I believe that is because she knows me from our time at university.

        • Doctor Clue says:

          I think I’ll leave the chemistry clues to you. I had to look up ‘RS’ – as I recall, the equivalent term was ‘DL’ in my undergraduate days…we only had 106 elements back then as well.

          • Dr. Daniel Price says:

            …which makes you somewhat younger than I. No need to apologize; most people are, now.

            I have produced only one grid with a true chemistry theme. The concept occurred to me on the job and I wished to reject it as unworkable so that I could move on to something less ridiculous. A few hours of tinkering produced a crossword chromatogram, with eight amino acids’ three-letter codes along the grid at distances proportional to their real-world retention factors.

            My bride describes that puzzle as perhaps the “nerdiest creation in history”, and she may be correct. [I may be a bit proud of it, too.]

  2. Doctor Clue says:

    I have received a comment from an anonymous source asking why ‘juxtaposed’ and ‘adjacent to’ are not in this list.

    Regarding ‘adjacent to’ – the only reason it wasn’t there is because it didn’t come into my mind when I initially produced the list. I have added it; I’m sure there are plenty of others missing, so please feel free to suggest additions to this and any of the other lists in order that I can make them as comprehensive as possible.

    ‘Juxtaposed’ falls into a different category. I haven’t included in the lists words which I simply can’t imagine being of any value to a setter; for instance, I have not listed ‘junked’ or ‘junking’ among the deletion indicators (‘junks’ of course is a different matter, being also a plural noun). ‘Juxtaposed’ comes into this category, as do ‘coterminous’, ‘proximate’ and ‘vicinal’.

  3. Andy says:

    I find your comments on has and ‘s interesting, and to an extent I agree with you, although I quite happily use either. I see it as implying ‘has next to it’, which is indeed a bit of a stretch, but surely much less so than having something like ‘possibly’ as an anagram indicator, which implies that these letters could possibly be this word if you shuffled them around. That surely is omitting the key part of the instruction! The letters possibly could be anything if you did something different to them.

  4. Doctor Clue says:

    Thank you for pointing out the issue – I’m keen that both the data provided here and the introductory text should be as helpful as possible.

    Regarding the inequality between wordplay and solution, the constraint I mention applies only to a few gimmicks; where the answer to a normal clue is to be modified upon entry in the grid there is no problem (the wordplay still leads to the solution), and where a misprint (or other ‘error’) is to be corrected prior to solving the setter needs only to consider the soundness of the corrected clue, which itself is normal. The ‘no link’ rule would typically apply in two situations: (i) where the wordplay delivers extra letters which are not part of the grid entry, and (ii) where the defined solution is to be modified on entry and the wordplay leads to the modified form.

  5. Dr. Daniel Price says:

    Your rewording is appreciated. I employ linking words only when alternatives fail, and juxtaposition indicators rarely (usually to indicate that elements are introduced in the opposite order of their entry, e.g. “y following x” to represent ‘xy’). Linking and juxtaposition indicators are inelegant; elegance is not always possible, however.

    As all of my puzzles are themed–with an increasing percentage demanding manipulations of entries–I shall certainly keep your closing admonition (x + 1 ≠ x) in mind and hope not to have committed such a sin.

  6. Doctor Clue says:

    I may have phrased my comment rather strongly, and I will revise the wording accordingly. I did not mean to suggest that even the purest of purists would consider a clue including a juxtaposition indicator, even a redundant one, unsound or unfair; only that they would typically favour a similar clue without the indicator. Speaking personally, I have no issue with juxtaposition indicators when used in moderation. However I do try to avoid link words where possible, not least because the additional text provides the solver with a distraction, which is something very different to misdirection. Worse than that, I often see clues where the linking text has been inserted purely so that the surface reading makes sense but with no regard to whether the cryptic reading suggests that the wordplay leads to the solution, ie the supposed ‘link’ is a meaningless buffer between wordplay and definition, and therefore unfair. Incidentally, in themed puzzles where the wordplay produces something other than the solution (eg ‘wordplay leads to an extra letter which must be removed prior to entry’) linking words are not allowed – in a normal clue the linking text says to the solver ‘x = x’, which is fine, but in an ‘extra letter in wordplay’ clue it would be saying ‘(x + extra_letter) = x’, which is not true.

  7. Dr. Daniel Price says:

    Are those who object to the use of linking words or juxtaposition indicators wishing to limit the number of acceptable clues to a tiny, easily-recognized set?