# Areas of Focus: Cryptic Clues

What follows are fifteen standard cryptic clues to solve. The catch is, I've removed the letter count from each clue. To help you out, note the following:

1. No answers have the same number of letters
2. All answers are exactly one word
3. No answer has more than 15 letters
4. When all solutions are in order, a keyword will confirm the answers

CLUES:

• Brilliant South American empire's fall?
• Friendship is fifty bronies performing in horse-speak
• Wood steering wheel without front
• Unpleasantness from broken bones absorbing toxic solder lead
• Listless lauding listless
• Common radiation scatters in vacant terminal
• Odd pair creates something irrational?
• Clarifications reveal small imp prancing about is fictional
• Dancing otter holding a block
• Commitments for new dances around here
• Curves: Extreme!
• Almost secure a greenback?
• Charges in and makes speech
• Ardently laze about with lousy characters
• Small layer turns a beast

good luck!

The clues:

Brilliant South American empire's fall?


INCANDESCENT (12)

Friendship is fifty bronies performing in horse-speak


NEIGHBORLINESS (14)

Wood steering wheel without front


ELM (3) though I was briefly distracted by (d)ASH

Unpleasantness from broken bones absorbing toxic solder lead


OBNOXIOUSNESS (13)

Listless lauding listless


LANGUID (7)

Common radiation scatters in vacant terminal


Odd pair creates something irrational?


PI (2)

Clarifications reveal small imp prancing about is fictional


SIMPLIFICATIONS (15)

Dancing otter holding a block


INGOT (5)

Commitments for new dances around here


Curves: Extreme!


S (though I'm not 100% sure I understand it: I think "extreme" means "last letter of" and it's an &lit, though the definition then seems a little flaky to me)

Almost secure a greenback?


CLAM (4) though I was briefly distracted by BUCK(le)

Charges in and makes speech


INVOICES (8). I confess I only found this by asking a computer to list all words of the form IN-----S.

Ardently laze about with lousy characters


ZEALOUSLY (9)

Small layer turns a beast


ANIMAL (6). This one took me far, far too long.

Putting it together:

In length order we have:
S
PI
ELM
CLAM
INGOT
ANIMAL
LANGUID
INVOICES
ZEALOUSLY
ADHERENCES
TRADITIONAL
INCANDESCENT
OBNOXIOUSNESS
NEIGHBORLINESS
SIMPLIFICATIONS
whose first letters yield SPECIALIZATIONS, fitting nicely with the title.

• This is all exactly right! Excellent work. For the one that took too long, I was unsure about including it at first, since the word you reverse isn't exactly common. And, for the one letter clue... yeah, a bit iffy for sure, but I was indeed going for an &lit, and you were able to put it together. Nice solves! – TwoBitOperation Nov 21 '18 at 13:51
• I said it took me "too long" because I felt I should have spotted it sooner. I'm familiar with the word in question and had noticed the reversal myself in the past. Ah well, human brains are known to be a bit rubbish :-). – Gareth McCaughan Nov 21 '18 at 14:10
• The puzzle was fun, by the way, – Gareth McCaughan Nov 21 '18 at 14:10
• Yes, that was a fun puzzle. (Couldn't solve the 4-letter one, but fortunately, Gareth's answer was already there.) – M Oehm Nov 21 '18 at 20:26