There's a saying in the cryptic crossword world, giving advice to would-be setters: 'You need not mean what you say, but you must say what you mean.' In other words, the setter can attempt to mislead the solver by using a form of words that can be taken in more than one way. On the other hand, it must be possible for the solver to logically deduce the intended meaning. This is certainly relevant to a type of clue known as the 'cryptic definition'.
Almost without exception, the definition to the answer is located at the beginning or end of a clue. Not so with the cryptic definition, where the entire clue provides the wordplay and answer, giving the solver a riddle to decipher. These clues frequently end in a question mark, which makes them easier to spot. Here are some examples. To get you started, clue 1 ostensibly refers to a person who's feeling out of sorts. The true meaning is somewhat different. You'll find answers further down the page.
- He's not himself at work? (5)
- Hands up for an early lunch! (4)
- A wicked source of light? (6)
- Lock degreaser? (7)
- Game at which children always leave one standing? (7,6)
- Person who's running out of clothes? (8)
- This worker looks down in the mouth? (7)
- Old vessel for his nibs? (6)
- A jammed cylinder? (5,4)
- Company car (3-6)
Answers: 1 Actor 2 Noon 3 Candle 4 Shampoo 5 Musical chairs 6 Streaker 7 Dentist 8 Inkpot 9 Swiss roll 10 Two-seater.