Nearly* all cryptic crossword clues have the same structure: the definition, the wordplay and nothing else.

The definition will be one or two words, or perhaps a phrase, at the beginning or end of the clue (i.e. not in the middle). Most wordplay is only of a few types: anagrams, concatenation, reversal, placement within, homophones, hidden words and puns. Often with concatenation, reversal and placement within, words in the clue are abbreviated either to a short synonym or an abbreviation.

Most abbreviations come from some context in the real world (e.g. quiet can be abbreviated to ‘p’, as in the musical direction), however some common words don’t seem to have a context (e.g. good can be abbreviated to ‘g’; I assume it’s because g is the initial letter but I’m unaware of the context)

Answers Across

1 PEDANT

4 SWINGERS

10 MAIDEN

11 TIGER

12 TAINTED

13 GOSSOON

14 REGAL

15 SPOTLESS

18 PEMBROKE

20 UDDER

23 SYLLABI

25 HEAD’S UP

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Answers Down

1 POINTERS

2 DRAWING

3 NIGHTCLUB

5 WILD GOOSE CHASE 6 NOTES

7 ENGROSS

8 SHRINK

9 PREDISPOSITION

16 LEUKAEMIA

17 TROPICAL

19 ECLIPSE

21 DOSSIER

22 PSYCHE

24 AWASH

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*The exceptions are and lit. clues and double definitions. And lit. is where the whole clue is the definition and the wordplay. An example is “I’m a leader of Muslims! (4) ” (IMAM). They are often denoted by an exclamation mark. They’re quite rare, and none have appeared in this crossword. Double definitions on the other hand will appear at least once in most cryptics, but like other clues, the surface meaning will try to deceive e.g. “Sacks reserves (4) ” (BAGS). I particularly like this one because in the surface meaning sacks is the verb and reserves is the noun, but for their definitions, it’s the other way round.

Explanations Across

1 (definition: nitpicker) sports (PE), starts to detect (D), insect (ANT)

4 (definition: they’re not faithful) musicians (SINGERS) surround wife (W)

10 (definition: maiden) fixed (anagram indicator) ANGULARUI (UI is user interface)

11 (definition: beast) regularly TyInGbEaR (i.e. the regular letters)

12 (definition: blighted) I wear brown (TAN) (giving TAIN) TED

13 (definition: lad) good (G), egg (O), opens a saga (S), in the near future (SOON)

14 double definition

15 (definition: clean) pun, as in leopards have spots

18 (definition: college) politician (MEP, (elections coming up!)), returns (PEM) to penniless (BROKE)

20 (definition: gland) backfiring (reversal indicator) within (hidden indicator) bREDDUck

23 (definition: second (S) starter of beef (B) holds partner (ALLY) back (YLLA) before lunchtime (I, i.e. 1 o clock)

25 (definition: warning) mind (HEAD) drink (SUP)

26 (definition: hot drink) happy (UP) priest (P) in California (CA)

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Explanations Down

Down

1 double definition

2 (definition: attracting) success (WIN) in make-up (DRAG)

3 (definition: perhaps Vinyl) soon (NIGH) begins to tempt (T) Pitt, say (CLUB)

5 (definition: mad search) SHOELACESIDGOW (west abbreviates to W), wandering (anagram indicator)

6 double definition

7 (definition: interest) English (ENG) friend (ROSS)

8 (definition: withdraw) quiet (SH) redhead (R, i.e. the head of the word Red), with tattoo (INK)

9 (definition: tendency) terrorist (IS) spot (POSITION) to support (i.e. underneath) soft (P) communist (RED)

16 (definition: disease) produced (anagram indicator) APUKEAMILE but without pressure (P)

17 (definition: stifling) Capricorn, say (TROPIC), beside a (A), lake (L)

19 (definition: trump) connects (CLIPS) in Estonia (EE, the country code)

21 (definition: log) DRIESSO at sea (anagram indicator)

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