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.

IndicatorAlternative form(s)Before or AfterAcross or DownType
aboveBeforeDownStandard
added toEitherEitherStandard
afterAfterEitherStandard
againstEitherEitherStandard
ahead ofBeforeEitherStandard
andBeforeEitherStandard
backingbacksAfterAcrossStandard
bearingbearsAfterDownStandard
beforeBeforeEitherStandard
behindAfterEitherStandard
belowAfterDownStandard
beneathAfterDownStandard
besidealongsideEitherAcrossStandard
beyondAfterEitherStandard
bolstered byBeforeDownStandard
bolsteringbolstersAfterDownStandard
borne byBeforeDownStandard
byjoined byEitherEitherStandard
capped byAfterDownStandard
cappingcapsBeforeDownStandard
close onAfterEitherAdvanced
close toclose byEitherEitherStandard
covered withcovered byAfterDownStandard
coveringcoversBeforeDownStandard
crowned byAfterDownStandard
crowningcrownsBeforeDownStandard
followed byBeforeEitherStandard
followingfollowsAfterEitherStandard
frontingfronts/in front ofBeforeAcrossStandard
givenBeforeEitherStandard
headed byAfterEitherStandard
headingheadsBeforeEitherStandard
held up byBeforeDownStandard
heralded byAfterEitherStandard
heraldingheraldsBeforeEitherStandard
holding upholds upAfterDownStandard
inferior toAfterDownStandard
introducingintroducesBeforeEitherStandard
leading leadsBeforeEitherStandard
led byAfterEitherStandard
nearEitherEitherStandard
next toEitherEitherStandard
onEitherEitherStandard
overBeforeDownStandard
pastAfterEitherStandard
plusBeforeEitherStandard
precedingprecedesBeforeEitherStandard
superior toBeforeDownStandard
supported byAfterDownStandard
supportingsupportsAfterDownStandard
toEitherEitherStandard
topped withtopped byAfterDownStandard
toppingtopsBeforeDownStandard
underunderneathAfterDownStandard
underpinned byBeforeDownStandard
underpinningunderpinsAfterDownStandard
uponon top ofBeforeDownStandard
ushered in byAfterEitherStandard
ushering inushers inBeforeEitherStandard
withtogether withEitherEitherStandard

4 Responses

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

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