Each numbered clue clues a six-letter answer to be entered consecutively (i.e., either clockwise or counterclockwise) in the six squares around the square so numbered.

1. Perhaps a laborist and others return flattened (6)
2. Apply heart of hellebore to make venom? (6)
3. Small bird's leg is folded into scarf, maybe (6)
4. Return mulligan stew, primarily for entertainment leader: Eric Heiden, e.g. (6)
5. Vocalic-onset burst is a sort of blend (6)
6. Southeastern corner of a church is for sailors (6)
7. Gold standard: almost McKinley's last effort at keeping peace while being ready for a fight (6)
8. Stress about… about a small amount of money (6)
9. Auditor's guarantee for an edge rate? (6)
10. Promotions exec shows excellent thinking. Advertising heads: "ESP?" (6)
11. Pauline, place the main part of your foot (6)
12. Humorist gets joke's punch line — that's huge (6)
13. Relations initially noisy, rather than quiet, in minuets, e.g. (6)
14. Analyzes coda of "Cuts! Cuts! Cuts!" (6)
15. Igneous rock that offends rodents (6)
16. A sort of bigotry based on blurry images (6)
17. Itty bitty things, glasses on my ears (6)
18. A Xen command backs up a book of the Bible? (6)
19. Ramona Milano's part-French, my friend (3,3)
20. Shake sock, e.g., for lizards (6)
21. Hex cesspool with overflow (6)
22. Pampers. For bodily fluids. (6)
23. West Side Story groups have Krupke end a major rift (6)
24. Saskatchewan?? Sooner a suburb of Chicago (6)
25. Freight vehicle: 0–90 in 750 millimeters (6)

Thanks to Deusovi for technical assistance.


The completed grid:

enter image description here


2. MALICE (MALIC ("apple-y"!!) + (-hell)E(-bore))
4. SKATER (RETAKE< with S(-tew) in place of E(-ntertainment))
5. CALICO (substring)
7. KARATE (KARAT + second-last letter of MCKINLEY; not 100% convinced by the def)
9. COSINE (homophone of CO-SIGN though I'm not quite sure why "an edge rate"; something to do with ratio of sides in a triangle??)
10. PESETA (initial letters; ESP is abbr for that currency)
11. TARSUS (double def; ignore the comma)
12. COSMIC (COMIC gets (-joke)S)
13. NIECES (PIECES with P replaced by N(-oisy))
14. PARSES ((-cut)S cuts PARES)
17. SPECKS (homophone of SPECS)
18. EXODUS (EX + SUDO< though I don't understand the first part)
19. MON AMI (substring)
21. EXCESS (substring)
22. HUMORS (double def)
23. GANGES (GANGS containing (-krupk)E)
25. BOXCAR (O XC in BAR)


I didn't figure out #2; msh210 kindly explained it in comments.

  • $\begingroup$ I would say 18 involves reversing "sudo xe" as "xe" is a Xen command. Number 2 might be rot13(znyvpr) although I don't get the heart of hellebore connection. $\endgroup$ – hexomino Nov 11 '20 at 2:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I assumed (perhaps wrongly) that solvers weren't really supposed to have to look up the details of the CLI of an arbitrary tool. If what you say is true, though, you're probably right about how the wordplay is intended to work. As for 2, as my answer says that's my top candidate too -- but I too have no idea what wordplay would yield it. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Nov 11 '20 at 2:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ All you've written is as I intended, Gareth and @hexomino. If rot13("urneg bs uryyrober" pyhrf R va ZNYVPR gura jung zhfg "nccyl" pyhr — naq jul? Abgr gur dhrfgvba znex va gur pyhr). $\endgroup$ – msh210 Nov 11 '20 at 4:35
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    $\begingroup$ @msh210 I don't know how "legal" that is but it certainly made me laugh! In case it's not clear for others, rot13(nccyl vf hfrq nf na nqwrpgvir urer sebz gur jbeq nccyr). $\endgroup$ – user39583 Nov 11 '20 at 13:50
  • $\begingroup$ Aargh! Of course! Will edit my answer accordingly. Duh. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Nov 11 '20 at 14:10

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