Reverse Anagrams by Sanket Shrivastava


Today we continue our discussion of types of cryptic clues with a focus on Reverse Anagrams. Reverse Anagrams are popular fodder at the Cryptic Crossword Society where I have been known to set quite a few myself. There are less popular in published puzzles though do occasionally appear and are the type of clue that I liken to good quality dark chocolate – very little goes a long way.

Here’s what Sanket has to say:

REVERSE ANAGRAMS: How to spot them and nail them

A reverse anagram is a type of clue where fodder and the anagram indicator (anagrind, agitator) are supplied by the solver in the answer and the end result of anagramming is present in the clue itself, along with the definition.

Consider the following examples:

1. Unbeaten ton (3,3)
2. Wrong way to make wealth (5,3,3)
3. A grid map for change of worldview (8,5)
4. Grim area for couples (6,8)
5. Threat of a Tea Party member (3,6)
6. What serves the world for free, if not porn? (3,6,12)

Before we solve, a tip that would serve you well, is to look at the enum, where you will find the enum (enumeration of the answer) to be higher than the normal size.

The first one, Unbeaten is the def, and ton is the fodder, and we should find a relevant anagrind with an anagram of not. A little understanding of cricket will tell us that Unbeaten means NOT OUT, where not anagrams to ton, and out is the relevant anagrind.

The second clue is trickier, and well known. Here, we understand the subtle nuance of post-fix (which come after the fodder) and pre-fix (before the fodder) anagrind. Wrong way to make wealth, is to BREAK THE LAW, where the law anagrams to wealth, and Break is the relevant anagrind (pre fix). Also, Break the law gives instruction to a wrong way to make wealth. This is grammatically kosher, and more appreciated. This clue falls into the category called &lits( AND LITERALLY SO, or ALL IN ONE) where the whole surface is the def.

In the third clue, A grid map anagrams to PARADIGM, and a little knowledge of management jargon tells us the relevant anagrind is SHIFT, making PARADIGM SHIFT the correct answer for change of worldview. Notice that Paradigm shifted would have been a better form grammatically, and SHIFT Paradigm also, however neither of those are the correct term. This might be frowned upon in some circles. Good practice is to pay attention to the cryptic grammar. It makes the clue fairer and more satisfying for the setter as well as the solver.

The fourth clue is simple, Grim area anagrams to MARRIAGE, and the clue being a semi all-in-one (semi &lit) means, that the answer is BROKEN MARRIAGE, or FAILED MARRIAGE. This is another issue in reverse anagrams, as more than one anagrind might be suitable for the answer. It is the responsibility of the setter to make the clue eliminate alternative answers.

The fifth clue would take you to wonderland, where a Tea Party member is known by the name of MAD HATTER. Notice here, the use of “OF”. Normally good practice in reverse anagram clues is to avoid usage of such connectors. However, they are not frowned upon, as long as we are discussing good practice.

Finally, the last clue, here we see a def, no connector word, and an enum that clearly indicated a reverse anagram. If not porn anagrams to NON PROFIT, and general knowledge would tell you the relevant anagrind is ORGANISATION (post fix anagrind).

Hope, you have learnt the basics of Reverse anagrams by the study of these examples.


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About paws4puzzles

I'm a writer and puzzle maker. I am the author of a YA fantasy series, P.A.W.S. and my puzzles have been published in many magazines from Dell and Penny Press and on the walls of the Eltana cafe in Seattle. My most recent release is a book of logic problems, Paws4Logic which I wrote together with my son, Joey.
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