Charades, rather like the parlour game of the same name, split the answer word into several different parts for the solver to reassemble.
In a basic charade clue the solver will have to seek synonyms of the words within the wordplay and put them together to form the answer word.
Charades can become more advance by adding abbreviations into the mix and putting the wordplay in the wrong order and then giving a POSITIONAL INDICATOR that instructs the solver to put things into the right order.
Charades can also form COMBINATION CLUES (see later section). These are the most complex clue type as they include several different clue types in one clue to help get to the answer word.
NOTE: The charade clue type is a staple of the cryptic crossword and the idea of putting words together to make other words is at the heart of most cryptic crossword clues.
Let's break down a few clues to see charades work:
Humiliation in an American cellar (9)
humiliation - definition
in - link work (definition found in wordplay)
an - A (an & a are synonyms in crosswordland)
american cellar - BASEMENT (the American word for cellar)
Here is an example using a first letter indicator:
Go up and bow to cabinet member (5)
go up - definition
and - link (showing equivalency of definition and wordplay)
bow to cabinet - C (the bow - front - of cabinet is the first letter)
member - limb (member is another word for limb)
Sometimes, the parts of the charade are out of order, in this case the setter will provide a POSITIONAL INDICATOR to help get the wordplay to match the the answer word.
Here is an example:
Stick to fish after crab starter (5)
stick to - definition
fish - ling (a fish)
after - positional indicator
crab starter - C (the starter - first letter - of crab is C)
LING + C (when one takes the positional indicator 'after' into account) = (C)(LING)
NOTE: As we have seen, remember that down and across clues can share positional indicators if they are non-horizontal or vertical specific, but indicators that specify a specific spatial position may only be used if they are in the correct clue type (down or across).