Variety: Puns and Anagrams – The New York Times

Speaking of reversals, “reverse engineering” has its kind of clue just there, which is confusing when you’re still looking for some kind of trickery. You need to find a synonym for “designed” – “made”, in this case – and reverse it to EDAM. SNAPS is another inversion (for “spans”, i.e. stretches, with only two letters changed).

Sometimes I fill out an entry using only crosses and wonder how anyone else could have solved it. “Kudos” resolves to PREYS, which is a homophone for “praise”, which is a synonym for “kudos”, of course. But there’s no other clue here – how would you know to look up a synonym that’s a homophone? And why not “pray”? You have to accept a bit of mystery with sometimes enigmatic puzzles.

For a homophone clue that also requires an anagram, take “Like some old alphabets in which you see ‘R'”. First, solve the homophones: The words “you see” become the letters U and C. Then, mix U, C, R, I and N to obtain a descriptor of ancient alphabets: RUNIC.

I’m not sure what I would call “Levi ____, the rising man”; a double definition, perhaps? The answer is LEVI TATE — you know him, he always has his head in the clouds, but every time you turn around, he gets a promotion!

Another possible double definition is “On the phone, press ECT for this language”. “Press” isn’t quite the same as DIAL, but it’s how we make phone calls these days when we’re not telling Siri to patch us. The input is DIALECT (which is also a language, isn’t it? Sometimes maybe). How about “A lot of shamelessness in one attempt” as a dual-definition contestant? One is A YOUR EGO, 2,000 pounds of self-glorification; the other is ONCE ONLY.

A few other miscellaneous items:

You usually know a visual pun when you see one. URE URE URE URE URE URE URE URE URE is one of them — count the number of URE and you will get TENURES. Sometimes the puns are a little less obvious – can you see why ESPS resolves to SPINES?

There are four examples of clues that I call filling in the blanks: they can be easy, they can look hard, and they can look and be quite hard. For me, “D_ _a_ state” is fast; missing letters reflexively fill in like REM – that old band from Athens, Georgia that defines adregardingam State. The clue “_ _ ope _ _ _” is impenetrable without crossing the letters, but the solution is simple: SCOUT also means scop outside. Finally, “Pra _ _ orian’s _ _ rb” is scary and left me puzzled. I recognize Praetorian but thought “tove” might be a verb, briefly, before I got TOGA, a Praeforby rian Georgiarb.

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