Hidden Words

In theory, hidden words should be the easiest of all cryptic crossword clues. The solution to a hidden word clue is embedded within the clue itself, with all the letters in the right order, simply spread over two or more words. The letters aren’t jumbled as in an anagram, they’re all in the right order and staring you in the face, so the solution should be easy, right?

Well, some hidden words are easy to solve but while the answer is right there in front of us, the setters tend to make life hard by concealing the clue type. You can’t look for a hidden word unless you realise one’s there. I’ve spent many a happy hour banging my head against my desk over what I thought was an anagram or some other type, only to see the solution jump out at me. Look at the following:

Far out in East, admitting habit (7)

This little beauty had us going for a while. The word ‘admitting’ suggests that ‘habit’ (or it’s first letter) should be used somewhere in the clue. The clue itself also suggests Tibetan monks (well, it did to me) and that was another garden path. The answer is far simpler.

The straight clue is ‘habit’ and the solution is ‘routine’. Far out in East. Seen like this they do look absurdly simple but it really is very easy to be distracted by other possibilites. In theory they’re one of the easiest types of clue but in practice I’d say hidden words cause the greatest number of exasperated screams of all clue types.

Although hidden words are usually a combination of two or more words, occasionally they are hidden within a single longer word. Here’s a simple example to end this chapter.

Address that’s somewhat undesirable (3)

If it’s not as easy as you thought, run your mouse over the clue to find the solution.