# The unsolvable cryptic clue

My friend was reading a newspaper and I caught a glimpse of a rather mystifying cryptic clue on one of the pages. I've been unable to solve it ever since and it's driving me crazy! Here's my "best" attempt, although it has several problems:

K AR(A CT Y)T'S CT

Obviously, "karactytsct" is not an English word in any dictionary I know. Also, I have already used all the words in the clue for this wordplay so there is nothing left to be used as the definition. And furthermore, the number of letters is completely off! From the enumeration I believe we're looking for a four-word phrase with one, eight, eight and nine letters respectively, although I have to say the enumeration was presented in a rather unusual manner.

What was the clue I saw? Why can't I solve it?

• Would the rebus tag help? Commented May 21, 2021 at 10:46

The puzzle seems to be referencing

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

(A CT Y) = A Connecticut Yankee

K ART'S CT = King Arthur's Court

The enumeration is presumably referencing the fact that this novel was published in the year 1889.

• Nice answer. But why would the enumeration be printed as (1,8,8,9) for the clue? Commented May 22, 2021 at 1:31
• @Xivi76 The idea was that the reader assumed (1889) must mean (1 8 8 9) as there are obviously no thousand-letter words. And of course the entire assumption of it being a cryptic clue in the first base is based on the parenthesised number at the end :)
– Jafe
Commented May 29, 2021 at 0:43