What does the term ‘one left’ mean in relation to cryptic crosswords? I can see from some answers that it basically means to add a letter ‘L’ to the definition answer, but this clue has me stumped…

One left a girl as a consequence (3)

The answer is supposedly ‘doe’ but this makes no sense to me. For the ‘as a consequence’ part I was thinking ‘due’, which is kinda close but I still don’t understand the jump to ‘doe’. Also, apparently ‘end’ is also an alternative answer to this clue.

Could somebody please explain why this is?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For a cryptic crossword, there's no single translation of phrases in clues to how to solve them. For example, rearrange usually means to anagram a word, but for the clue "rearrange board in game with discs" it doesn't. $\endgroup$
    – Peter Shor
    Oct 2, 2023 at 13:20

2 Answers 2


In this case the answer is not 'DOE' but...

'END', as you suggest. Here, 'left' doesn't relate to a letter 'L' but instead refers to the removal of another letter clued in the wordplay (i.e. a letter leaving...). Specifically, a letter 'I', which is the Roman numeral for the number one. So 'One left' here means 'remove the letter I'.

The definition here is indeed 'a consequence', being 'END'. What do we remove an 'I' from to make this? The word 'ENID', which is the name of a girl.

So overall we have:

Take a girl's name (ENID), remove the letter 'I', to produce the answer 'END'. In other words, 'One left' here refers to the letter I being removed.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thankyou so much! That clue was from the first cryptic crossword I’ve ever done and although I got some answers after researching cryptic crossword rules, and understood other answers after looking them up, that one was just not clicking for me. Ta muchie. $\endgroup$
    – Danielle
    Oct 3, 2023 at 12:21

To understand why this is, it might be a good idea to review the basics of how a cryptic clue works.

Consider the following clue (taken from one of my own PSE questions):

School of thought puts pin in charged oxygen atom (7)

There are different parts to a cryptic clue. The two most prominent ones are the definition and the wordplay. In this case, the definition is:

school of thought

and the rest of the clue is the wordplay. The definition must be at the very beginning or the very end of the clue.

The wordplay can be parsed like so:

A charged atom is called an ion, and the atomic symbol for oxygen is o, giving us o ion.

The word "puts" is what's called an indicator, which tells us how to parse the clue. In this case, we should put the word "pin" inside of "o ion", giving us opinion, which is a synonym for "school of thought."

How this clue works:

One left a girl as a consequence (3)

The definition is

As a consequence, meaning end.

To get there, turn "a girl" into

Enid, a girl's name.

"one left" actually means

to take away a letter from Enid, giving us end, which is the solution.

Credit to @Stiv's answer on how to solve the clue; This answer goes more in-depth about how the clue actually works.

  • $\begingroup$ Looks like you miswrote your example clue as "charged oxygen ion" instead of "charged oxygen atom"; too small for me to edit so I wanted to give you a heads up. $\endgroup$
    – Idran
    Oct 2, 2023 at 16:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JustinHilyard Fixed it, thanks! $\endgroup$ Oct 2, 2023 at 16:59

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