Well, tell me – how does one do it? Here’s my guide:
Take a word.
“But which word?”
One you like, and which makes you smile.
“OK, so I have my word. My word is WARTHOG.”
Each to his own. Right. What can you tell me about it?
“It’s made up of WART and HOG.”
Well spotted. What else?
“It’s WAR + THOG.”
More brownie points. OK, but THOG isn’t a word. What can you tell me about
“It’s an anagram of GOTH. It’s also H in TOG. Or H in GOT backwards.”
“Erm, not sure”
If you’re not sure, move on, Right, now you might start looking for a
definition You’ll need a definition, as well as the cryptic part of the
clue. Define WARTHOG.
” “Animal”. Erm, let me consult my dictionary. ‘Any of a genus of wild hogs
found in Africa, with large wartlike execrescences (whatever they are) on
their cheeks (Chambers dictionary).’ – “African beast” How about, “it’s
“And war is beastly. Hmm, am I getting somewhere?”
“Or I could try a different tack. Shall I put all the letters of WARTHOG in
a circle and see if I can come up with an anagram?”
“OK, let me see – A GROWTH. Aha. Warts are growths. And the word ‘beastly’
might suggest an anagram. Got it. How about ‘Animal with a growth that’s
Pretty good. How did you get there?
“Dunno, I just played around with definitions, the structure of the word,
and all that. I don’t really know what I’m doing.”
And that’s what I’ve been doing for 20 years.
“So you don’t really know what you’re doing?”