5
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Probably quite an easy one, just trying my hand at a few cryptic clues:

The twenty-first Greek cried over the loss of lamp's innards. (8)

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  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Cryptic crossword clues typically have a number in parentheses at the end to indicate the number of letters in the answer. It's certainly not necessary, but it helps at least give a starting point to the solver. :) $\endgroup$ – Bailey M Jun 1 '15 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ The word "his" in the clue doesn't seem to have any function. Also "cried" seems to be pulling double duty. Nice start though. $\endgroup$ – dennisdeems Jun 1 '15 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the feedback! I'll keep it it mind when I think of them in future $\endgroup$ – James Webster Jun 1 '15 at 21:10
9
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FILAMENT : FI (PHI spoken aloud) + LAMENT

A brief quibble on the clue:

and now that I think of it, isn't "cried" being used twice? Once to indicate a soundalike of PHI, and once for "cried over the loss of"? "over the loss of" can't be lament by itself.

Extended explanation:

By convention, cryptic clues are composed of two parts: the standard definition (similar to a regular crossword clue) and the "subsidiary", which describes the answer word in various creative ways. The standard and subsidiary definitions are then combined without indication as to which is which or where the break between them lies. See the wikipedia article on cryptic crosswords for more info.

In this case, the standard definition is "lamp's innards", a clear description of the answer FILAMENT, and the subsidiary is "The twenty-first Greek cried over the loss of." Roughly, the first part of that is supposed to indicate the "FI" sound, and the last part to indicate "LAMENT".

Although there are no hard-and-fast rules for cryptic clues, there are conventions, and I would say that this clue breaks them because the word "cried" does double-duty: it both indicates a soundalike for PHI (in cryptics, any reference to speech or voice can indicate a homophone) and also is part of the phrase "cried over the loss of" that indicates LAMENT. Or, to look at it another way, if "cried" does not do double-duty, if it is solely part of "cried over the loss of", then the first part of the clue, "The twenty-first greek" by itself indicates PHI, not FI.

One could also complain about "cried" being past tense and "LAMENT" being present tense. But as I said, these are not hard-and-fast rules, and I think that this clue would probably not raise eyebrows in many of the world's daily cryptic crosswords. An alternate cluing that hews closer to the cryptic conventions as articulated by Ximenes might be something like

Hear the twenty-first Greek cry over the loss of lamp's innards. (8)
"Hear the twenty-first Greek" = "Homophone of PHI" = FI
"cry over the loss of" = LAMENT
"lamp's innards" = FILAMENT

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  • $\begingroup$ This is the answer I intended. Thanks for the feedback, I'll keep it in mind for future clues. I wasn't using "cried" to indicate a soundalike; I'd missed that. $\endgroup$ – James Webster Jun 1 '15 at 21:12
  • $\begingroup$ Any chance you could add an explanation to your answer? $\endgroup$ – starsplusplus Jun 1 '15 at 21:23
  • $\begingroup$ A great analysis. $\endgroup$ – dennisdeems Jun 2 '15 at 14:59
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How about:

philosopher

phi (21st Greek letter) + loss + sopher (suffer/cry)

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  • $\begingroup$ How does that square with "lamp's innards"? $\endgroup$ – DevOfZot Jun 1 '15 at 20:23

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