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Standing upright? It's time to slice fish!

Why is the answer BRISTLING?

The clue is from The Independent Cryptic Crossword August 30, 2018.

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    $\begingroup$ Where is this clue from? $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Oct 3, 2022 at 13:35

2 Answers 2

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The construction is:

BRISTLING ("standing upright?") = T (t, symbol for time in physics) inside ("to slice") BRISLING ("fish"). The "it's" connects definition and wordplay.

Or, in terse notation: BRIS (T) LING.

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    $\begingroup$ So the question mark in the clue doesn't hint on anything unusual? Seems like it's a normal definition. $\endgroup$
    – justhalf
    Oct 3, 2022 at 8:49
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, @justhalf. A question mark can indicate something unusual or a definition by example and some styles require exclamation marks for &lit definitions, but I think here, the punctuation is only part of the surface reading. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Oct 3, 2022 at 9:09
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I was snipped sniped by M Oehm but, as well as Standing upright? = BRISTLING the definition, the wordplay could be:

Bris = Jewish ceremony of circumcision
t = time
ling = fish

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    $\begingroup$ Haha "snipped". $\endgroup$
    – sleighty
    Oct 3, 2022 at 18:46

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