Cranium-Cracking Cryptic Crosswords, Volume 2
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Wordplay devices

Double definitions

Double definitions have the simplest structure of any clue type. Rather than a straight definition and wordplay phrase, both parts of the clue contain a straight definition. Typically, the two definitions seem to have nothing in common at first glance. For example:

Picked up flower (4)

The two definitions are “picked up” and “flower.” In this case, the answer is ROSE. Note how different the two definitions are: the first defines “rose” as the past tense of the verb “rise” while the other uses its unrelated sense as a noun. Here is another double definition:

Break will (5)

The answer here is LEAVE, which is a “break” as in “vacation,” or “will” as in “bequeath.”

A double definition might even define two homographs (words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently). An oft-cited example is:

Buff Eastern European (6)

The answer is POLISH, which can mean either “buff” (when pronounced with a short “O”) or an ethnicity of Eastern Europe (when pronounced with a long “O”).