Please explaiin these cryptic crossword answers...

(I think I’m posting this in the right place - mods please relocate if wrong)

I’m usually pretty good with cryptics, but these two questions have me stumped - they’re driving me mad and I’d love to know how the answers are arrived at!

(1) “Seemingly innocent man starts hiding expensive pistol” 4-3
Answer is ‘side arm’

(2) “Ship with the right rigging is lighter” 8
Answer is ‘brighter’.

Can anyone explain how these answers are reached?

Thank you!


“seemingly innocent man starts” = the initial letters of the words “seemingly,” “innocent,” and “man”: S, I, M

“hiding” = those letters enclose the other part of the clue

“expensive” = dear

“pistol” = sidearm

Still thinking on the other one.

The one thing that has me absolutely convinced that the members of the Commonwealth are all smarter than any of us Americans could ever hope to be is the fact that they can do cryptic crosswords.

That having been said…

I guess the ship would be a “brig”. The “hter” you have to add onto the right side of that that is the right rigging? The end result being the word “brighter”, which seems to have to do with lighting things up?

Or perhaps you’re supposed to take the right rigging from “lighter” and add it to “brig” to get “brighter”…?

Or maybe you use the word “right” and meld that onto “brig” and you’re on your way… or maybe the “rig” from “rigging” is a redundant clue of the same sort. Or maybe…

Oh, it’s hopeless, it’s just not in my Yankee blood to carry this through to the end. Still, “brig” is the way to go.

ship =freighter

right rigging= ighter

is lighter=brighter

yes no?

Tough one, but I think:

Ship = brig

Right = r

So it’s read as “The r rigging” “Rigging” indicates you mix up the letters “ther” = hter

Thus brighter.

And I’m from the US. :slight_smile:

Yours makes more sense than mine.

The thing about cryptic crossword clues is that each word has one and only one application toward solving. I think everyone has given a good go at #2, but the attempts have either overlapping clues (“lighter” cannot be both the meaning of the answer and a word that provides letters for it) or unused clues. The rules are pretty stringent.

I had thought of both “brig” and “freighter,” but couldn’t reconcile them with the rest of the clues.

Edited to add: I think RealityChuck has it!

Great stuff everyone! Thank you so much for explaining this. That’s a load off my mind!


One of the nice things about cryptics is that when you get the clue, it’s absolutely clear that it’s right.

If those are the correct interpretations, they’re not very elegant cryptic clues - that is to say that even when solved, they still seem a bit tenuous. A good cryptic clue should make you :smack: when you see the answer.

Brig and lighter are both boats.

But I agree with Mangetout.

Some of my favourite cryptics are the thematics by Cox & Rathvon in the Atlantic Monthly magazine. C&R’s cluing is as good as any British setter (well, except for the aversion to Cryptic Definition clues). So Americans can set them, even if they can’t do them :wink: