In today’s Sunday Times concise crossword, there’s a clue
(Middle Row) ———- (7)
with brackets and a dash, as shown.
The answer appears to be Lebanon. I’m baffled. It’s not a cryptic clue.
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Note: A Google search led me to find that this particular clue was also being discussed on the crosswordsolver.org forum today, where user 'candledave' reported that:
"The middle row of the grid spells CEDAR OF and LEBANON completes the name of the tree". In a comment on this question I then advised the asker to take a look at the letters in the middle row of the completed grid; you're expected to substitute these into the 'Middle Row' part of the clue and then complete the expression to find this answer. In response to another user suggesting I post a full answer, here is my attempt to flesh out this finding and comment with full context.
Here is the crossword in question - The Sunday Times Concise Crossword #1839 - with the relevant crossing answers filled:
Now, with all these other letters known, there is only really one word that can possibly fit in 10D:
LEBANON (searching the UKACD dictionary online at Qat suggests this as the only real candidate...).
The question is: how to make sense of the clue "(Middle row) _______"?
Look at the middle row of the crossword - the letters here spell CED?ROF when read from left to right. It would appear that the crossword compiler's intention is for the solver to deduce a word for 10D which can form the second part of a phrase, for which these middle-row letters form the first part, and their central letters are the same (due to the overlap in the central cell of the grid).
i.e. We are looking to find a phrase of the form: CED?ROF L?B?N?N. This should lead the solver to CEDAR OF LEBANON - the tree for which the country is renowned, meaning that 10D is indeed, safely, LEBANON.
Big credit to user 'candledave' on the crosswordsolver.org forum for their initial post, which helped me to resolve this fully.