Cryptic Puzzle

Cryptic Squares

Cryptic Squares

By Tom Toce

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Each of the eight 5 × 5 word squares has one entry that is too long. Enter five of the six letters in the grid, and leave one sticking out. The five letters you enter will also make a legitimate word. As a final step, the eight letters that stick out can be anagrammed into a description of the time you have put into this endeavor.

The clues are shown below by square, with the order left for the solver to determine. Hints are provided in the boxes below for those who need them. There is one contraction, one hyphenated term, and thirteen proper nouns. Everything else is playable in Scrabble. Thanks to Eric Klis, Bob Fink, and Jerry Miccolis for test-solving and editorial suggestions.

Square 1

  • Capricious wants didn’t exist
  • Clumsy steer found in the forest
  • Demonstrate subdued range
  • Stingers for Episcopalians, often
  • Emporium featured in most Oresteia
  • Bottom’s character’s dubbed
  • Crack encrypted stream
  • Bench duty?
  • Chutzpah never worked
  • Last road carries Elroy’s dog

Square 2

  • Prawns do a number on a well-known boy from Pondicherry
  • Stones hit angry coterie from both sides
  • That woman’s ranting to Rosemary and Mary Jane
  • Grade improved due to mystery award
  • Puncture is clean wound
  • Shinny up around part of a maple
  • Peeks out and stays useful
  • Glimmer around fluid ash
  • Drop deductions from flimsy paycheck
  • Boy, a little less dip

Square 3

  • Surprisingly eager to bury the hatchet
  • Register one for wolverine
  • Market for silver or some antimony
  • Rent after the first, if you don’t mind
  • Hogan’s nervous, I hear
  • Climax with Tom’s replacement
  • So sea sick at watering holes
  • No calf crazy for bird of prey
  • Impulses surge after rehabilitation
  • A long, long way to run, finally cut short by debility

Square 4

  • Brewski on a Mediterranean island
  • Good riddance to literature on Apple’s operating system
  • Jason mangled the last name of a band of brothers
  • Made up stuff taking on new ideologies
  • Commemoration to a saint
  • Peg sasses indiscriminately
  • Delivery person finally gave us chocolate stout
  • Abode might be made from this material!
  • Remains calm and quiet
  • Huge predicament turned around instead

Square 5

  • To her friends, “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood” is merely confused, having lost energy
  • Famous author from French fifth column
  • Crazy morning for procuress
  • Chatbot similar to being interrupted by former spouse
  • Great bargain with least maneuvering
  • Someday fillies may be found in Oklahoma reservations
  • Bum taped by magician
  • Keep oxygen around sealant
  • A depression in her voice, she warbled hello
  • Favor the outlines of preliminary offer

Square 6

  • Gaming platform’s pitch: Breaking into artificial intelligence
  • LPs offered at discounts
  • In anticipation of the general assembly’s befuddled backing
  • Forces sequence with unsatisfactory notices
  • Braun groomed Jimmy
  • False danger leads to shakedown
  • Guzzle very loudly, as before
  • Face-saving run for satirical play
  • Demean by one-third, maybe
  • Wild leeks are silky

Square 7

  • Only a little bit of weight in inducement as broadcast
  • A fellow provocateur
  • Least false fake news
  • A puzzle to blow one’s mind
  • Once again, feign slumber
  • Retreats on New England streets
  • Home game’s riveting finale
  • Part of suit involving backslap elimination
  • It has its own layer, with zero limitation
  • Mark, leading the division, is a visceral part of the whole shebang

Square 8

  • Edited Time’s issues
  • Annoyed to be seated out of order
  • Refuse leaders of each jurisdiction encompassing Connecticut
  • Yes, in Bolivia tin creates passive resistance
  • Nuts or just hearsay?
  • At first, technicians sever current
  • Introduced me to crack NPR reporter
  • An approval, comparatively
  • Wipe out pitcher’s stats by the


Word describing the time put into solving this puzzle:

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___


Previous Issue’s Puzzle—Death Be Not Proud

In this puzzle, the challenge was to find one anagram per sonnet line of things that are commonly buried or found underground.


TOM TOCE is a senior manager for actuarial services with Ernst & Young in New York and is a member of the Jeopardy Hall of Fame. Solutions may be emailed to him at

In order to make the solver list, your solutions must be received by Oct. 1, 2018.

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