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1.2 Solving anagram clues

Another very common use for TEA is to solve anagrams. These occur in many different word puzzles, but the examples we will use here are based on cryptic crosswords. Suppose you had to solve this clue:

Committee poor built after revolution (9)

You might well guess that this is an anagram clue with "after revolution" as the anagram indicator. To help solve this clue, you can create an anagram pattern by preceding the letters that make up the answer with a semi-colon (;), as shown below:

Step 2 initial image

Type ;poorbuilt into the box below the Pattern label and click on the Word Search button. You should see the words that match the anagram pattern appear in lists in the bottom half of the TEA window. In this case, there is only one possible anagram politburo and this satisfies the definition in the clue "Committee".

It is common for only one answer to appear if you enter all the letters of an anagram, especially for long answers. TEA can also find anagrams where you only know some of the letters: as with templates, you indicate unknown letters with a dot (or question-mark). Suppose you were trying to solve this clue:

One novel printed in bold (8)

Here you might guess that "novel" was an anagram indicator. If you suspected that the letters of "printed" were used in the answer, but weren't quite sure what the eighth letter was, you could add a dot to the pattern, as shown below:

Step 2 final image

Type ;.printed into the box below the Pattern label and click on the Word Search button. Because one letter is unknown, there are a few more possible answers; however, the correct one intrepid can be seen in the results for the Core English list.

Note that the letter that replaced the dot in the pattern is shown after the answer, preceded by a +. This is known as the "Anagram Balance" and shows what additional letters were required; in Step 5 you will see that unused anagram letters are shown after a -.

In the next step, we will learn about "Choice Lists", which are used when there are two or more possibilities for a letter.

Relevant Help Sections

Anagram Balances

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