Help with a cryptic crossword

There is one last clue I’ve been puzzling over for a long time. I think it must be some obscure word. It’s driving me nuts!


The clue is simply “Piped music”. Seven letters.

I have four of the letters filled in:


The P is from exPire - “Run out of breath (6)”
The B is from orBital - “Not much spoken about as space travel is (7)”
The O is from trOut - “The first defeat for a swimmer (5)”
The H is from sHortstory - “An account that’s hardly overdrawn (5,5,)”

pibroch: “the classical music of the bagpipe”


(A series of variations on a martial theme or traditional dirge for the highland bagpipes.)
darn. I wasn’t first.

Some links to help you in future…

crossword helper

Groan, I knew it was going to be something like that. Boy you guys are fast! Thanks very much, now I can sleep tonight.

But… what kind of word is PIBROCH, and how does this qualify as a cryptic clue? I thought there had to be a double meaning or something?

‘Pibroch’ is a Gaelic word, and it’s a pun on ‘piped music’. Puns are perfectly acceptable in cryptic crosswords.

I still don’t get it. Pibroch is pronounced PEE-brokch. (Rhymes with loch as in Loch Ness Monster).

I can see the ‘roch’ as a pun for ‘rock’ from the clue ‘music.’

How does ‘pib’ (PEEB) be a pun for ‘piped’?


Piped music is continuous background music, such as is played in restaurants and supermarkets. Here it is being used punningly as ‘music played on pipes’, in this case bagpipes.

I gather this is a British-style cryptic? The rules for cluing in American puzzles are more rigid – the clue must contain a definition and a wordplay portion, which are normally distinct from one another – and that clue definitely wouldn’t fly over here.

British clues usually follow the same pattern. Some leeway is given in punning clues, however ( and I agree that is not a particularly good clue).

Ah, I get it now. Thanks. However, IMO, that’s a bad cryptic clue. You’d find that kind of word play in regular crossword puzzles. Cryptic clues tend to be more… cryptic.
Backing up, a truck sounds loud music overwhelming the music from the bagpipers’ float. (7)

Not to mention that ‘pibroch’ is pretty obscure…

The OP’s clue is a (not very good) example of what cryptic crossword aficionados would call a Cryptic Definition, seemingly frowned upon by US crossword editors but common in British puzzles. Rather than the usual definition + wordplay structure, in CDs the entire clue can be read in two ways, the more obvious reading hopefully being the wrong one. Sometimes this is achieved by means of a pun, but often not. Examples:

Ill-gotten gains (4, 3)
It’s said to raise a smile (6)
Flower power (16)
Modern art (3)

and an old chestnut:
A jammed cylinder (5,4)

and the answers usram? don’t leave us hanging!


Sick Pay
Hydroelectricity (flower used punningly to mean ‘something that flows’ e.g. a river)
??? (I’ll get back to you on this one)
Cream Cake



The only one of those that is moderately funny is “modern art.”

“A jammed cylinder” should be Swiss Roll, because this is cylindrical by definition, whereas not all cream cakes are.

I still like “hijklmno (5)”, which of course is Water (geddit?), and “ICUM” Capsicum.

Hell, may as well throw in a couple more:

Big red spanner (6,4,6)
Pain! (6,5)

Big Reg Spanner

Golden Gate Bridge


Window Glass