&lit and semi &lit
&lit clues are a special clue type in which the clue not only defines the answer in its surface, but also in wordplay as well. &lit stands for 'and literally so' - they are also known as 'all in one' clues.
To help understand &lit clues better it is helpful to remind ourselves of the difference between SURFACE AND CRYPTIC reading.
As you will remember, the surface of the clue is just what is written and is taken at face value. The cryptic reading of the clue breaks up each word into synonyms and indicators and performs actions on words to help make the answer word.
In an &lit clue you will read the surface of the clue and find a definition (usually cryptic or an example) of the answer word. Furthermore, EVERY word in the clue also forms wordplay in the cryptic reading which builds the answer word.
These clues are rare as they are tough to construct. To have a definition in the surface of the clue and then have those same words in the surface create the answer word in the cryptic reading is no easy task!
Semi &lit clues also define the answer word in their surface - however, not all of the clue will make up wordplay that also makes the answer word. Usually, the part of the clue that doesn't form part of the wordplay will be a noun such as 'THAT' or 'THEM' or 'IT' or 'HE'.
This type of clue can be hard to understand, but hopefully this preamble, when viewed with the examples on the right hand side of this page, will enable you to get to grips with them.
A source of both rum and tequila during binge? (9)
a - a
source of both - first letters indicator
rum and tequila - R T
during - insertion indicator
binge - bender
? - for definition by example
Note that surface leads to the answer (by offering an example of a bartender) as well as the wordplay. It is also worth noting that the &lit clue type is the only one where double duty (a part of the wordplay that serves more than one purpose) is allowed.
Semi &lits also define the answer on the surface, however, not all of the clue is wordplay.
Here is an example of a semi &lit:
Trained orca amuse in them (11)
trained - anagram indicator
orca amuse in - fodder
them - end of definition as a whole
Note that although the whole clue suggests the answer, THEM is not a part of the wordplay. Because of this, the clue is a semi &lit.