Letter manipulation

Letter manipulation is used to build up an anagram from words in the clue that need chopping, reversing or merging, or to add a part of a word into the mix to construct your answer. In manipulating a word you usually ignore the possessive part. For example, in “Designer’s” you may ignore the S apostrophe, thus making an anagram from DESIGNER. Alert! Sometimes you need to include the “S” in your anagram. The following is a list, by no means exhaustive, of words or phrases you sometimes take as letter manipulation flags. Letter manipulation

[See also Insertion Flags for related clue structures]

List of letter manipulation flags

5—

50% off – use half the word

 

A—

Abandon – minus one of the letters

Abandon – use a letter from a word. For example, in the phrase “left abandoned” use the L

About – reverse the letters

Above (in a down clue) – reverse the letters

Admits – contains letters from

Almost – use all of the word except the last letter. For example, use GAV from gave

Alternative – use the first letters of each of the following words

Arrest – take in a letter or letters

At first – use the first letter of each word. For example, in the phrase, “losing weight at first” means remove the W from the preceding or following word

At back of – use the last letter

At the end of – use the last letter

At last – use the last letter

At the outset – take the first letter from each of the next words

Avoiding – missing the indicated letter

 

B—

Back – reversal of letters

Back of – the last letter of a word

Backed up – reversal of letters

Backing – word reversed

Banks in – use the outer letters of a word

Biting – the word goes around other letters

Borders – use outside letters of a word

Bottom of – use the last letter of a down clue

Boxing – the letters wrap before and after the word

Briefly – remove the last letter

Bring forward – a letter is moved to the front or near the front

 

C—

Carried by – included in the word

Case – use the outer letters of a word

Case of – use the first and last letter of a word

Catch – goes round a word

Centre – take the middle letters of the word

Circling – contains letters or a word in the answer

Claims – contains the following word(s)

Clipped – remove the last letter of a word (see examples below)

Close – use the end letter of the word

Close of – use the last letter of a word

Close to – use the end letter

Come back – reverse the letters of the next word

Comeback – reverse letters

Coming west – reverse the anagram in an across clue

Concealed – word is hidden in the phrase

Containing – the answer includes these letters

Content of – use the central letters from a word

Covering – placed around

Covering – use the initial letters of word or words. For example, in “covering empty space”, use ES

Crossing – the letters are split across another word

 

D—

Defaced – remove the first letter of a word and use the rest

Denied starter – remove the first letter of a word and use the rest

Discontented – use only the outside letters of the word

Discover – remove outer letters of a word

Discovered – use a word with the first and last letter removed

Disheartened – remove the middle of the word and use the rest

Dismissed – remove a letter from a word

Dismissing one – remove a letter from the next word

Docked – remove the last letter from a word

Dropped one – remove a letter from the next word

Dropping odds – omit alternate letters and use the rest

During – insert letters in the word

 

E—

Edge of – take the last letter

Emptied – remove all the middle letters and use the rest

Empty – remove all the letters of a word except the first and last.

End – use the last letter of a word. For example, use the E from “prematurE end”

End of – use the last letter of a word

Ending – use the last letter. For example, in “enemy’s ending”, use the Y (ignore the possessive ‘s)

Endless – use the word with the last letter removed

Endlessly – take the letter off the end of the word, or end of each of several words

Ensnaring –– put in the middle of a word

Entering – put a letter or words in an anagram

Entrance – use the first letter of a word(s)

Escaping from – remove a letter from a word

Essentially – use middle letters

Evacuating – remove the middle of the word

Every now and then – use the alternative letters

Exposed – remove the first and last letters of the word and use the rest

Extremely –  use the outer letters of a word

Extremes – use the first and last letter

 

F—

Failing to open – remove the first letter, and use the rest

Finally – use the last letter of the word or words

Finish off – remove the last letter of a word, and use the rest

First couple unseen – the first two letters of the word are omitted. For example, in “Sweden”, omit SW, and use EDEN.

First to escape – remove the first letter and use the rest

Foremost – use the first letter

Forget first week – remove “W” from the word

Front of – use the first letter

 

G—

Getting – using a letter from a word

Getting cut – remove the last letter and use the rest

Going north – reverse the word in a down clue

Going west – reverse the letters in an across clue

Gutted – remove the middle letters and use the rest

Guzzle – include a letter or two from a word

 

H—

Half-heartedly – remove one letter from a double letter in the centre of a word

Hard to penetrate – insert H (hard) into word

Head of –  use the first letter of a word

Heading north – reverse the letters in a down clue

Heads for – use the first letter of each of the next words

Heartless – remove the middle letter of the word (s), use the rest in the answer. For example, in “Heartless woman” use WN

Hide – include the letters

Hide of – take out the letters of a word

Hiding face – remove the first letter of the word

Hint of – use the first letter of a word

Holding – the word contains another short word

Holding – use the letters from inside the word

Houses – a word or phrase holds the word or letters for the answer

Hugged – wraps round a word

 

I—

In – hidden in the clue

In need of hotel – this means the H is missing

In retirement – reverse the word

Initially – use the first letters of each word

Intermittent – use the alternate letters of the next word(s)

Ignoring – remove a letter or letters from

 

K—

Knocked back – reverse the word

 

L—

Last – use the last letter of a word

Last off – remove the last letter of a word and use the rest

Last to go – remove the last letter of a word and use the rest

Latest – use the last letter of a word

Leader getting lost – use all but the first letter of the word

Leaders of – use the initial letter of each word or phrase

Lead-free – remove the first letter

Left – remove from word as indicated

Leftwards – the letters are reversed in an across clue

Lifted – reverse the word in a down clue

Lifting – reverse the word in a down clue

 

M—

Mainly – use most of the letters of the next word

Minimum of – one letter of a word

Missing bottoms – remove the last letter of each word

Missing conclusion – take the last letter off the word and use the rest

Missing opening – remove the first letter of a word and use the rest

Mostly – use all but the last letter of a word

Most of – use most of the letters from a word

Moved to the north – in a down clue move the last or last two letters of the word to the front

Moving right to start – move ‘R’ from right. For example, with “anger”, move the R to the start for the answer RANGE.

Muffling – the word contains a bit of the answer

 

N—

Namelessly – remove the N from a word

Never ending – remove the last letter of a word

No answer – remove the letter A from the word

No introduction – remove the first letter of a word

No tail – use the next word, removing the last letter

Not – take out/remove the next word or letters

Not Charlie – remove C(harlie) from a word.

Not entirely – use the next word, omitting its last letter

Not quite – omit the last letter of a word

Not so – remove SO from a word

Not taking sides – remove the first and last letter from a word

Not the front – remove the first letter of a word, use the rest

Not wanting – remove a letter or word. For example, in “not wanting a…” remove A from the word

 

O—

Occasionally – use alternate letters of a word or phrase

Odd features – use the odd letters from a word. For example, in “nature” use N,T and R in building your answer

Odd one out – use the odd letters from a word

Oddly – use the odd letters from a word(s)

Oddly dropped – in “never oddly dropped” remove NVR (the odd letters) and use EE in the answer

Oddly missed – omit the odd letters of word or phrase

Off and on – use the alternate letters from a word(s)

On – means the words or letters are on top of the next word in a down clue

On reflection – reverse the letters

On the rise – reverse the letters in a down clue

On the up – reverse the letters in a down clue

On vacation – remove the middle letter of the next word; or ignore the outer letters

Opening – use the first letter of a word

Origin – use the first letter of a word

Originally – use the first letter of a word or phrase

Out – remove a letter

Over – reverse the word

Overcoming – put around another string of letters

 

P—

Part of – use a selected portion of a phrase

Peel – remove the outer letters of a word

Picked up – reverse the word in a down clue

Pinching – the letters go round the word

Pocketing – put the letters round a word

Pollarded – remove the first letter and use the rest

Possibly – use an alternative of a word

Practically – use all but the last letter

Premature end – remove the last letter

Primarily – use the first letter of the next word

 

R—

Raised – reversed in a down clue

Rear of – use the last letter of a word

Rear of lost – use all but the last letter of the word

Reduced – take off the last letter and use the rest

Regularly – use the alternate even letters from a word. For example in “chap must regularly” use H P U and T as part of your anagram.

Rejected – reverse the letters of a word

Rejected – turn the letters around

Repelled – spell backwards

Reversing – turning

Reversal – turn the letters around

Revolution – reverse the word

Revolutionary – reverse the word

Right – move a letter to the right

Right out – remove R from a word, and use the rest

Ripped apart – containing

Rise – in a down clue, turn the word around

Rises – reverse the word in a down clue

Rising – reverse anagram in a down clue

 

S—

Saving – containing

Second to finish – move the second letter to the end of a word

Seconds to go – remove “S” from the word

Seen around – reverse the letters

Sent back – reversal of letters

Served up – reverse the letters in a down clue

Set up – reverse the letters or word in a down clue

Set up northwards  – reverse the letters in a down clue

Shedding all outside – remove the outer letters and use the rest

Shelter – remove the outer letters from a word

Short – minus the last letter

Shortly – remove the last letter

Slightly deficient – remove one of the letters

Slightly lacking – omit the last letter

Some – use part of the next word/phrase

Some – use some of the letters from a word or phrase

Source – take the first letter

Source of – use the first letter of a word. In “hop” for example, use the H

Start of – use the beginning of each word

Starter of – use the first letter of the next word

Starters – use the first letters of word or words

Starts – use the first letter of each word

Starts late – used the next word, omitting the initial letter

Start to – use the first letter of a word

Starts to – use the first letter of the word or words

Stays away – remove letters

Stealing – insert letters from

Stem of – take the letter from the end of the word

Stern – the last letter of

Stood up – reversed

Stripped – remove the outer letters

Supplies – provides a word

Supporting – goes with

Suppresses – excludes a few letters from the start and end of a phrase

Suppressing – letters or a word are split around another word

Sweetheart – use the middle letter of sweet, E

Switch leaders – (tricky one, this) swap the first two letters round. For example, “unclear” becomes NUCLEAR

 

T—

Taken over – reverse the letters

Taking top off – use all but the first letter in a down clue

Tip of – use the last letter of a word(s)

Tips – use the first letter of each word

Tips – use the outer letters of a word

To head west – reverse the letters in an across clue

To the north – reverse the word or letters in a down clue

Top of – use the first letter of a word in a down clue

Top two – use the first two letters of a down clue

Turn up – reverse in a down clue

 

U—

Ultimate – use the last letter of a word

Ultimately – take the last letter from a word

Uncovered – remove the outside letters

Under – put after a word in a down clue

Unfinished – omit the last letter

Unloaded – remove the middle letter

Unlimited – discard the first and last letter of the word and use the rest in an anagram

Unprotected – remove the first and last letter

Upset – reverse the word in a down clue. For example, for “party” use DO then reverse it

Used off and on – use odd letters from a word or phrase

Used up – reverse the word in a down clue

 

V—

Vacant – use the first and last letter of a word

Vacated by “a letter” – remove this letter from the word and use the rest

Vacation – remove the inner letters

Vacuous – use only the first and last letters of a word

Vertically – use an anagram of a word in reverse, in a down clue

 

W—

Wanting – use a word minus certain letter(s)

Wanting tips – remove the outer letters

Wasting – use with a letter removed

West – in an across clue means reverse the letters

West of – preceding a word in an across clue

When erected – reverse in a down clue

Wingers – take the first and last letter of a word

Wings parted – remove the first and last letters of the next word

Wiping – remove some of the letters

With no leaders – omit the first letter of each word

Withdrawing loudly – remove the letter F from the word

Examples:

1] Paces around this wiping his face (6). The letter manipulation here is to wipe “his” from “this”, leaving you with T. Next, add T to “paces” to build your anagram PACEST. The answer is “Aspect”.

 

2] District gets prize but not the first one (4). Take the anagram for prize, which is AWARD. Then remove the A (not the first one). The answer is “ward”.

 

3] Contract requiring three partly to supply occasional items (6). The definition word is “contract”. The letter manipulation indicator is to supply occasional items, which tells you to pick the alternate letters from “three partly”. Thus: ThReE pArTlY. The answer is “treaty”.

4] The Law of clipped Woodland (4). Take a word meaning “woodland”, COPSE and clip off the last letter. The answer is “cops”.

5] Troop’s physical restraint right out the window (6). “Troop” is the definition word. Right out the window is the letter manipulation flag telling you to throw right (R) out the window. A physical restraint is a leg iron. Removing “R” from this gives the answer, “legion”.

This is also an example where you often have to ignore the possessive, in this case apostrophe S.

6] Stand-in starts to learn off Cambridge University master (5). Starts to is the letter manipulation key. Collect the initial letters of each of the words following starts to. LOCUM, which is the answer.

7] Expedition ignoring a fine outfit (4). Ignoring a is the manipulation phrase here. For expedition use SAFARI. Ignore the letter “I”. Answer is “sari”.

8] Compass needle moving right to start (5). Moving is the manipulation word here. For “needle” use ANGER as in to make someone angry or cross. Move R (right) in the word “anger” to the start of the word. The answer is “range”.

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By Nigel Benetton

Last updated: Wednesday, 11th August 2021