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Kosman and Picciotto on their Nation puzzle, cryptic crosswords, wordplay and puzzles in general.

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Sending a Letter Off

The idea behind the deletion clue is simple: the solution is obtained from another word by the removal of a letter. For example:
   EXIT Be without stamina, initially, and leave (4)
   (EXIST minus S)

In this post, we will take a quick tour of the many ways deletions are used in cryptic clues.

The letter can be taken from the front:
   ADDLE Puzzle: how a duck can walk without a head (5)
   (from WADDLE)

Or it can be taken from the back:
   INDIC Almost accuse in connection with the subcontinent (5)
   (from INDICT)

A letter can be removed simultaneously from the front and back:
   LIMB Branch rises, naked (4)
   (from CLIMBS)

Deletions can also be combined with almost any sort of cryptic clue. Here are some more intricate examples.

With a reversal:
   STAMINA  Brings to life, rising without energy or endurance (7)
   CARDIGAN  Horse I’d almost race backwards in a sweater (8)

With an anagram:
   LUDICROUS  Ridiculous, absurd, lacking one bit of intelligence! (9)
   EXECS  Excess nearly rumpled suits (5)

With a charade:
   INCENTIVE  Van Gogh, a little late: “I have a carrot” (9)
   IMPRUDENT  Careless urchin, unrefined and not without love (9)

With a container:
   MEETS  Runs across Mississippi, keeping feet uncovered (5)
   BIPED  Devil losing heart in bed with woman, perhaps (5)

And finally, here is an example of an unusual deletion clue:
   WHERE  A question that might be answered by decapitation (5)

Do you know any good deletions? Please share here, along with any quibbles, questions, kudos or complaints about the current puzzle or any previous puzzle. To comment (and see other readers’ comments), please click on this post’s title and scroll to the bottom of the resulting screen.

And here are three links:
• The current puzzle
• Our puzzle-solving guidelines
• A Nation puzzle solver’s blog where you can ask for and offer hints, and where every one of our clues is explained in detail.

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