An &lit clue is one in which the definition and the wordplay, instead of being disjunct, each constitute the whole clue. There is something quite satisfying, and sometimes amazing, when a word or phrase can be described at the semantic level (definition) and at the surface level (wordplay) with exactly the same words.
Because of that, it is traditional among most US cryptic constructors to end such clues with an exclamation point. This is a form of boasting, let’s face it, but since we’re not humble, we adhere to the tradition. (Note, however, that sometimes an exclamation point is just an exclamation point.)
You can read more about &lits in our solving guidelines (links at the end of the post.) Here are some examples from our second year as The Nation’s puzzlers:
ABC’S Basic elements eliminating ignorance at the beginning! (4)
ANIMOSITY ___ is no amity, unfortunately! (9)
ASPIRIN It’s cured pain, sir! (7)
BRIDESMAID Admired sib, potentially?! (10)
CARAVAN Vehicles! (7)
CARGO Primarily cached on a ship! (5)
DECIMAL POINT Remarkably, I’m a pencil dot! (7,5)
DUE PROCESS Criminal course sped! (3,7)
ENRAGED Terribly angered! (7)
GAME Duck, Duck, Goose, for instance! (4)
GLUT Fill belly with victual, ultimately! (4)
GREEN CARD It’s garnered with difficulty, to take first step for citizenship! (5,4)
NASHUA It’s, like, in New Hampshire, near the edges of USA! (6)
PICKETED Chose to surround establishment’s entrance and exit! (8)
RHINO One sporting frightful horn! (5)
RHYME Frost’s utterance! (5)
SPACE AGE It’s characterized by extraordinary escape involving acceleration and gravity! (5,3)
TARANTULA Multi-legged creature amid ultra-creepy arachnids, chiefly! (9)
TERMITE Bug in pursuit of chewed-up tree, for the most part! (7)
TWEET Ultimately, post small bit of text! (5)
WEDGE ISSUE Married gays, initially, beginning to educate children! (5,5)
Admittedly, some are old chestnuts, and some are not as successful as others, but hey, it’s not a bad list!
This week’s clueing challenge: LITERAL. To comment (and see other readers’ comments), please click on this post’s title and scroll to the bottom of the resulting screen. And now, four links:
• The current puzzle
• Our puzzle-solving guidelines | PDF
• Our e-books (solve past puzzles on your iOS device—many hints provided by the software!
• A Nation puzzle solver’s blog, where every one of our clues is explained in detail. This is also where you can post quibbles, questions, kudos or complaints about the current puzzle, as well as ask for hints.