Cryptic Puzzle

Fewer Cryptic Squares

Fewer Cryptic Squares

By Tom Toce

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The previous puzzle was “Cryptic Squares,” and I was going to call this one “More Cryptic Squares.” But “Cryptic Squares” had eight 5 x 5 word squares and hence 80 clues—and I’m not making that mistake again! This puzzle has only five word squares, and its title reflects that count.

Each grid has two entries that are too long. One entry will have its first letter sticking out, and one will have its last letter sticking out. The five-letter portion residing within the square of each six-letter word will itself be a legitimate word, but the associated clue relates to the six-letter word. As a final step, the ten letters that stick out can be anagrammed two ways, one into a two-word description of what (many) actuaries do and one into a two-word description of what (many) actuaries are. I believe these anagrams will be recognized as my most important contribution to the actuarial literature.

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 are ten proper nouns, one (in square 3) that I’d never heard of before. All 26 letters are used, and with such a tight construction, I had to loosen up a bit. There is one variant spelling in square 4 and three unusual words, one each in squares 1, 2, and 5. Unusual or not, all the entries except the proper nouns are playable in Scrabble.

Thanks to Eric Klis, Bob Fink, and Jerry Miccolis for test-solving and editorial suggestions.


Square 1

  • Slips by cronies with fluency
  • Don’s advertising household items
  • Put final touches on audio stream, perhaps?
  • Sounds like you’re in the subject of many tests
  • Damn dog’s home, at last
  • Square off a bit and complain
  • Fake as silicon
  • Grant’s portrayer nears, just a little tipsy
  • Little fight with wound cut short
  • Dip bread in that, when you take seconds

Square 2

  • Delayed outburst from below
  • Irregularly notched English rose
  • Jack, I had to fight for religious beliefs
  • Superiority thanks to not having enough tricks
  • Holy man is envious, heartless, and throw in Socialist
  • Judo instructor is seen going through the motions
  • Bullwinkle and Bambi trampled reeds
  • On hard arrangements, she helped Brian Wilson
  • Fairly common girl’s name in Ireland and New England!
  • Accommodates workout gear, except for Wednesday

Square 3

  • Sold-out shows taking on new leads
  • Bargains on cruises, I’m told
  • Name of a girl God has cut off
  • Struggle with the limits of exercising restraint
  • Stuns with an intricate puzzle some shun
  • Dance party left by a musician some people called Maurice
  • Singer-songwriter from New Zealand takes over almost entirely upon return
  • Iranian nomads according to new piece of information
  • A backwards figure-skating move creates sounds that could occur in an echo
  • Poor señor, such a bore

Square 4

  • Faulty drain at the bottom
  • Make straight for the train to Harlem
  • Emphasize strictness at the borders
  • From the French perspective, Brexit is foremost a direct insult to the European Union
  • Sunday snoozes for Pops
  • Parking permit, if you would
  • A cry of surprise as Ohio turned over everything
  • Principles found in sound foundations
  • MacGuffin always foreshadows the end
  • Give very bad treatment to blaxploitation hero

Square 5

  • Turkish elder has sex appeal and indigestion
  • Gathers on the outside as help descends on football player
  • Little pigeon riding in squeaky pedicab
  • Slippery trays go all over the map
  • Boy accepting extra work for ill-gotten gains
  • Type of crude language appearing in the margins of Gutenberg register
  • Question trade of two pints
  • Hemingway lady better off without Jake, in the end!
  • Hit the road after exhausted payments
  • After a fashion, I ran to Dole

Previous Issue’s Puzzle—Cryptic Squares

Square 1

  • WASN’T—Anagram of “wants”
  • TREES—Anagram of “steer”
  • PROVE—P (from PIANO “subdued”) + ROVE
  • WASPS—Double definition
  • STORE—Contained in “most Oresteia”
  • SOLES—Homophone of SOULS (“character’s”)
  • MASTER—Anagram of “stream”
  • STOOL—Double definition
  • NERVE—Anagram of “never”
  • ASTRO—Contained in “Last road”

Square 2

  • SCAMPI—SCAM (“do a number on”) + PI (“a well-known boy from Pondicherry”)
  • ANGIE—Outside “angry coterie”
  • HERBS—HER (“That woman’s”) + BS (“ranting”)
  • EDGAR—Anagram of “Grade”
  • LANCE—Anagram of “clean”
  • CLIMB—C (from CIRCA “around”) + LIMB (“part of a maple”)
  • KEEPS—anagram of “Peeks”
  • FLASH—FL (“fluid”) + ASH
  • FLECK—Omit interior letters in “flimsy paycheck”
  • LADLE—LAD (“Boy”) + LE (“a little less”)

Square 3

  • AGREE—Anagram of “eager”
  • LOGAN—LOG (“Register”) + AN (“one”)
  • AGORA—AG (“silver”) + OR + A (“some antimony”)
  • LEASE—PLEASE (“if you don’t mind”)—P (“after the first”)
  • TENTS—Homophone of TENSE (“nervous”)
  • CREST—Double definition (“Tom’s replacement” refers to toothpaste)
  • OASES—Anagram of “So sea”
  • FALCON—Anagram of “No calf”
  • URGES—Anagram of “surge”
  • FAULT—FA (“A long, long way to run”) + ULT(imate) (“finally cut short”)

Square 4

  • MALTA—MALT (“Brewski”) + A
  • ADIOS—AD (“literature”) + IOS (“Apple’s operating system”)
  • JONAS—Anagram of “Jason”
  • LINES—LIES (“Made up stuff”) with N (“new”)
  • TOAST—TO + A + ST (“saint”)
  • ASSESS—Anagram of “sasses”
  • OBESE—OB (“Delivery person”) + ESE (last letters of “gave us chocolate”)
  • ADOBE—Anagram of “Abode” & literally
  • RESTS—Double definition (“calm” and “quiet” each mean REST, so both are RESTS)
  • MAJOR—JAM reversed (“predicament turned around”) + OR (“instead”)

Square 5

  • MERYL—Anagram of “merely”—E (“energy”) and MERYL STREEP
  • DEFOE—DE (“from French”) + FOE (“fifth column”)
  • MADAM—MAD (“Crazy”) + AM (“morning”)
  • ALEXA—A LA (“similar to”) with EX (“being interrupted by former spouse”)
  • STEAL—Anagram of “least”
  • MARES—Inside “Oklahoma reservations”
  • ADEPT—Anagram of “taped”
  • EPOXY—Inside “Keep oxygen”
  • ADELE—Homophone of A DELL (“A depression”)
  • PREFER—Outside “preliminary offer”

Square 6

  • ATARI—TAR (“pitch”) inside AI (“artificial intelligence”)
  • DISCS—Outside “discounts”
  • UNTIL—UN (“the general assembly”) + reversal of LIT (“befuddled”)
  • SQUADS—SQ (“sequence”) + U (“unsatisfactory”) + ADS (“notices”)
  • UNBAR—Anagram of “Braun”
  • FRISK—F (“False”) + RISK (“danger”)
  • QUAFF—QUA (“as”) + FF (“very loudly”)
  • FARCE—R (“run”) inside FACE
  • ABASE—A (“one”) + BASE (“third, maybe”)
  • SLEEK—Anagram of “leeks”

Square 7

  • CARAT—Homophone of CARROT (“inducement”)
  • AGENT—A + GENT (“fellow”)
  • TALES—Anagram of “Least”
  • AMAZE—A + MAZE (“puzzle”)
  • REPOSE—Pun on RE-POSE (“Once again, feign”)
  • NESTS—NE (“New England”) + STS (“streets”)
  • OMEGA—Inside “Home game’s”
  • LAPEL—Inside “backslap elimination”
  • OZONE—O (“zero”) + ZONE (“limitation”)
  • COLON—Double definition

Square 8

  • EMITS—Anagram of “Time’s”
  • TEASED—Anagram of “seated”
  • EJECT—First letters in “each jurisdiction encompassing” + CT (“Connecticut”)
  • SITIN—SI (“Yes, in Bolivia”) + TIN
  • RUMOR—RUM (“Nuts”) + OR
  • TREND—T (“At first, technicians”) + REND (“sever”)
  • COKIE—I (“me”) inside COKE (“crack”) and COKIE ROBERTS
  • ALIKE—A (“An”) + LIKE (“approval”)
  • ERASE—ERAS (“pitcher’s stats”) + E (“the end of June”)
  • JULIA—Triple definition (the Julias Roberts, Child, and Michaels) and JULIA(N) (“old calendar missing November”)

Final Anagram

Letters outside the word squares: (M)ASTER, SCAMP(I), FALCO(N), ASSES(S), (P)REFER, (S)QUADS, REPOS(E), (T)EASED

Word describing the time put into solving this puzzle: MISSPENT

Solvers not using hints

Steve Alpert, Todd Dashoff, Deb Edwards, Bob Fink, Phil Gollance, Pete Hepokoski, Eric Klis, Paul Kolell, Mike Kosciuk, Ken Kudrak, Jerry Miccolis, Jim Muza, David and Corinne Promislow, Zig Swistunowicz, Jon Turnes, James and Betsy Uzzell

Solvers using hints (or or not saying)

Jina and Michael Accardo, Anthony Amodeo, Dean Apps, Karl Baker, Lois Cappellano, Priscilla Cho/Preet Dhillon/Ken Haile/Max Hanna/Michael Manos/Evan Swalheim, Bob Conger, Laura Cremerius, Mick and Kris Diede, Mendy Friedman, Bruce Fuller, Jason Helbraun, Paul Ivanovskis, Joe Kilroy, Ben Lynch, Dave McGarry, Jon Michelson, Karen Skoglund and Bethany Timmons, Joshua Parker, Bill Scott, Sally J. Smith, Doug Szper, Jim Wickwire, T. O. C. E. (Sean Donohoe and Josh DenHartog)

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 Dec. 10, 2018.

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