Ichabod is itchy

May 31, 2006

Cryptic clue of the day

Filed under: crosswords — by ichabodisitchy @ 11:10 pm

"Sailor tosses around birds" (9)

Go to cryptic creations for the answer.



  1. Okay, I don’t get today’s, but I think I’m finally getting a handle on these things. I didn’t understand the genre, if you will, at all at first.

    Comment by Debra Hamel — June 1, 2006 @ 2:34 am |Reply

  2. Sian, I confess that I’m a moron. Would you mind please telling me how I could begin to figure out the cryptic clues? There must be a technique which eludes me.

    Comment by Susan — June 1, 2006 @ 2:57 am |Reply

  3. I’m thinking that “sailor tosses” might be “heaves,” (either as in “heave-ho” or “the dry heaves”) and that “around birds” means that heaves might be split up and put around some word for birds like gull, tern, etc. It could just be put around the word “birds.” Could be some shuffling of the letters of heave and the letters of birds or some bird. But I don’t get what the answer is. In my experience, when you have the answer, you know you have it.

    Comment by Douglas — June 3, 2006 @ 7:28 pm |Reply

  4. Okay, I guess the sailor is the TAR part, but I don’t know about the tosses.

    Comment by Debra Hamel — June 6, 2006 @ 12:53 am |Reply

  5. OK – quick explanation before my internet connection dies again. You have to dissect the word literaly. The answer to this clue is starlings. As you have guessed, tar is the sailor. ‘slings’ is a word for tosses and goes around the word for sailor. And the result, starlings, means birds.
    Does that make sense?

    Comment by ichabodisitchy — June 6, 2006 @ 11:31 am |Reply

  6. Thank you, Sian! I can see that it might be possible to get pretty good at these puzzles although usages that are more common in your part of the world might be a little problematic here in the ‘new’ world. Is the focus always to be put on the first couple of words, as it was in this puzzle, and the ‘how-to’ hint to be found in the final part?

    Comment by Susan — June 7, 2006 @ 1:39 am |Reply

  7. Yes, it is difficult– especially as each crossworder has their own ‘style’. But there are some rules that might help in getting started:

    – the first or last bit always tells you what the word is. e.g. in this instance, the last word ‘birds’ gives you the meaning (but it could just as easily have been the first word, ‘sailors’ in a different example).

    – the middle bit always gives you the ‘cryptic’ putting together of the words. Within this part, there are some standard clues/words that, if you see them, are easy to associate:
    love = o (also round, duck [from a duck being a zero score in England], circle)
    woman = f, she, her, w
    “on the radio” = a sign that the word sounds like another word with a different spelling (e.g. want vs wont). Other clues for ‘sounds like’ are ‘hears’, ‘reportedly’, ‘said’.
    caught = c (from cricket scoring in England)

    there are loads more– a nice article about solving crosswords, with some examples, is given in the Guardian at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/crossword/howto/rules/0,4406,210643,00.html.

    Comment by ichabodisitchy — June 7, 2006 @ 2:59 pm |Reply

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