Azed No 2403 ‘Spoonerisms’ (1 Jul 2018)

reviewed by Dr Watson for & lit. – The Azed Slip Archive

Reviews index  |  & lit. homepage  |  Try the puzzle


HIS is the fourteenth of Azed’s Spoonerisms puzzles, though the clue type has featured in the competition in two other ‘mixed-bag’ Christmas Specials. Along with Printer’s Devilry it’s a firm favourite of regular solvers, and like PD it produces some of the wittiest clues from both Azed and his competitors. There are two types of clues, here labelled A and B. In type A clues the definition leads to a Spoonerism of the solution that appears in the grid, and in type B, the definition in the clue is a Spoonerism of the actual definition. Dr Watson’s usual advice is to start on the shortest solutions, as these are most likely to be type B clues leading to single-syllable words: for example 10 across. Some solvers suggest it can be helpful to speak the Spoonerisms aloud while solving, though preferably out of earshot of concerned friends and relatives.

Notes to the clues:



1.       After siting’s feast, port was drunk  POST-WAR (B; fighting’s ceased; anag.).

7.       Martin Peter, a creation of William Boyd’s  IAMB (B; part in meter; hidden)  A very neatly disguised definition and wordplay. William Boyd is probably best known for his James Bond revival novel Solo.

10.     Trade Mac’s concealed involves bit of extortion  HIED (B; made tracks; e in hid).

11.     Cooking eastern nan (roti) one applies an ocean of lard, say  ANOINTER (B; a lotion of nard; anag. inc. E)  The setter inevitably resorts to definition by example in Spoonerisms clues more than other types to achieve effective wordings. Nard lotion is of course just one of many things an anointer might apply.

12.     Partridge e.g. with tiger’s heart for greedy ras  ALANG (B; reedy grass; Alan + g)  A reference to the Steve Coogan character in a surface that doesn’t bear much scrutiny.

14.     Base part of leg, this, is missing smear of oil  THOLI (A; low thigh; th(is) + anag.)  The first of several Spoonerised body parts. Chambers supports the pronunciation ‘tho-lie’ rather than ‘tho-lee’.

15.     Recognize base types: sleek one deviously captures hearts  KNEEHOLES (A; know heels; H in anag.)  The vowel-swaps are usually harder to spot than the consonants.

17.     Sailor to mix article in honey  MARTEL (A; tar mell; art. in mel)  The use of ‘mel’ in the wordplay and ‘mell’ in the type A definition makes the parsing tricky.

19.     Pot off niche, left out, plainly cracked  IN PLAY (B; not off pitch; anag. less l)  Is niche pronounced ‘nitch’ or ‘neesh’? Chambers supports both.

22.     Time to suit US river bird  DEEJAY (A; day gee5; Dee jay)  A second vowel-swap that will have solvers muttering possible solutions to themselves.

27.     It follows end of cigarette being dropped in seat – very small hole  PEEWIT (A; wee pit; e in pew + it)  Azed achieves a very plausible surface reading from unpromising material.

28.     We’ll divide to eke out, as before, see, struggling? The old will  EWE-CHEESE (A; ye choose; we in eche + anag.)  Azed knows as well as anyone that the Y in ‘Ye’ is a substitute for the character Þ, and so strictly sounded as ‘th’, but again Chambers supports his choice as the common pronunciation.

29.     Charge for fish? If doubled, round the bend  FARCI (A; sar1 fee; arc in if, rev.)  More evidence that setters have a fish for every occasion. Using ‘charge for fish’ rather than ‘fish charge’ adds an extra twist to the definition.

30.     Section for pa in fence of stakes – it rings flocks  SLING (B; flings rocks; S for pa in paling).

31.     Frond between bends, one holding spike left from behind  ALLIANCE (B; bond between friends; nail l, rev. in ace)  A great choice of Spoonerised definition produces a convincing heraldic surface.

32.     Speak grace for students before entering it  STOA (B; Greek space; to in SA)  The & lit. Archive has examples of this use of ‘it’ in clues as far back as 1951, and some even earlier examples of ‘sex appeal’ and ‘glamour’ for SA.

33.     Lion fed with new joint, dejected  LENO (A; knee low; n in Leo)  A companion for 14 a’s low thigh?

34.     Chopped liver in tin, small community business of old  SILVERN (A; vill cerne; anag. in Sn)  Easy wordplay compensates for two obscure components in the definition.



1.       Champagne crazy as I’m working to enter higher degree PHASMID (A; fizz mad; anag. in PhD) Pretty much the perfect word for a type A Spoonerism.

2.       Modest stretch of water that is nursing watery lack, with duck coming over  OILCAKE (A; coy lake; 0 + anag. in i.e.)  To Dr Watson’s ear the Spoonerism sounds more like ‘coil ache’ than ‘coy lake’, but it’s close enough.

3.       See zebra bursting with energy, highland stock to grab  SEA BREEZE (A; bree2 seize; anag. incl. e).

4.       One responsible for sting often raged, name appearing in bet  WAGNER (B; Ring often staged; n in wager)  Proper names can give scope for imaginative Spoonerised definitions, as this clue and 18 down demonstrate.

5.       Sad times, rent heaps mounting, bound around?  ROSE-LIPPED (A; lows ripped; piles, rev., in roped)  The last clue Dr Watson solved, thanks mainly to the four unchecked letters in the grid.

6.       Be a model female in the mine team formerly?  SITHEN (B; meantime; sit hen).

7.       Wherein the weird sisters cooked joints hard in simmering poison  INHOOPS (A; oon hips; H in anag.)  There’s no evidence in Macbeth that the witches cooked in anything but a cauldron, but their Scottish oon (oven) is an intriguing idea.

8.       Might that’s fixed, sheltered with Middle East dominant  MELÉE (B; fight that’s mixed; ME + lee).

9.       Last character to cry loudly ‘Run’ with cold wind around  BRISÉ (A; zee bray; r in bise).

13.     In Paris I and Ben sally out for swell denims  JELLY BEANS (A; belly jeans; je + anag.)  Azed usually avoids connecting words between the wordplay and definition in Spoonerisms, but doesn’t rule them out as he does for Letters Latent and other special clue types.

16.     ‘Basket not heavy,’ I yell frantically, ‘Only a straw in it  LILYWHITE (A; willy light; whit in anag.)  A willy is, amongst other things, a willow basket.

18.     A judge with proceeds from cocaine (nearly new cut) bought home for young pony  AJACCIO (B; port home for young Boney; a J + anag. less ne(w))  The surface may be improbable and the wordplay a bit stretched, but the Spoonerism is a corker, providing the outstanding penny-drop of the puzzle. Ajaccio in Corsica is the birthplace of Napoleon.

20.     One heaving loam (say) elsewhere and not under a siding  ALIENOR (B; leaving home; a lie + nor)  An alienor isn’t leaving home in the sense of travelling, but leaving their property in the possession of another, hence ‘(say) elsewhere’.

21.     Dirk’s ‘tagger’, a label to intercept any wandering  YATAGAN (B; Turk’s dagger; a tag in anag.).

23.     Sin to call? One who was so pi, ha-ha (funny)  APHIAH (B; kin to Saul; anag.)  Aphiah earns a single mention in 1 Samuel as an ancestor of Saul, so an internet search is likely to be required to confirm his identity. Dr Watson can imagine Ximenes chiding solvers who failed to recognise a solution like this one as insufficiently up on their Scripture.

24.     Sub at tea, maybe, contribution to wives selling  VESSEL (B; tub at sea; hidden)  Mr Clark’s brilliant clue to FILIBUSTER from Ximenes 148 no doubt came to mind as Azed produced this Spoonerism.

25.     Duck, initially frozen within, still forming inside  TEFAL (A; foetal; f in teal)  The only clue to feature a one-word Spoonerism of the solution.

26.     A shady spot  SWALE  The competition word, for which solvers must provide their own type B clue.


Reviews index  |  & lit. homepage  |  Try the puzzle