The first one seems to have been well received, so let's try again. The answer to this puzzle is a list of ten thematically related words or proper names or phrases. Each of these is clued cryptically, and the theme is to be determined. Since the definition part of a cryptic clue would give away the theme, these cryptic clues use a family member (e.g., mom, sister) to stand in for the definition part of the clue. So for example, if the theme of the puzzle were chemical elements, "Sister picking at nit" would clue "tin". The clues are sorted in order of non-decreasing answer length. I hope you enjoy!

  1. Stoplights or fog held up Auntie
  2. Grandma, losing head, stands in the way
  3. Grandpa might get sick
  4. Uncle finished talking down Arabs without shelter
  5. Mom seen on island after a little bit
  6. Sister picking up boy she tempts but won't seduce?
  7. Niece seen in a lounge tipsy
  8. Bebop singer supports band leader regarding final solo for Dad
  9. Filling fries and burger satisfied son
  10. Brother boogies in NK disco

Hint #1:

The following clue cannot be added to the family: "Friend sat near Reagan"

Hint #2:

The answers for #4 and #6 are perhaps a bit less well known than the others. These alternative clues might be a little easier to solve via wordplay: "Uncle done talking down Arabs without shelter" and "Sister, picking up lad; she tempts but won't seduce?"

Hint #3:

Last one to go. It's a shame #4 isn't better known, because he's really a great one. In fact, the United States commemorated him with a postage stamp.

  • $\begingroup$ Ouch. I just realized I inverted clues 6 and 7, because I apparently can't count. I think I need to just give the lengths in any future puzzles like this. $\endgroup$ Commented May 14, 2020 at 17:48

1 Answer 1


The theme is:

American poets

(Note: I revised the theme to be more specific based on the OP's hint, which rules out ['near Reagan' -> 'by Ron' -> Lord BYRON]. Thanks to @Stiv for spotting the connection.)


1. stoplighTS OR Fog< hidden (Robert) FROST
2. L_ in PATH (Sylvia) PLATH
3. MAY containing ILL (Edna St. Vincent) MILLAY
4. "done" -> DUN + aRABs< (Paul Laurence) DUNBAR
5. (found by @Stiv) WHIT + MAN (Walt) WHITMAN
6. (found by @Stiv) TEASE containing LAD< (Sara) TEASDALE
8. SINGER* contains B_ + _G (Allen) GINSBURG
9. frieS AND BURGers hidden (Carl) SANDBURG

  • $\begingroup$ Nice. I think 5 is rot13(JUVGZNA - JUVG=yvggyr ovg, naq Vfyr bs ZNA) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented May 13, 2020 at 6:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Stiv - Thanks. I never would have gotten that. $\endgroup$ Commented May 13, 2020 at 7:03
  • $\begingroup$ It was a very niche one to be honest; you needed to know two cultures to get it - a mix of US (the answer) and UK (the clues). I would say neither part is necessarily known that well in the other! :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented May 13, 2020 at 7:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Stiv - After I got the first six or so answers, I made a list of likely other candidate answers to help me finish the puzzle. That name was on the list, but I just didn't put it together. The second I read your answer, though, I knew you were right. $\endgroup$ Commented May 13, 2020 at 7:25
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Stiv - Wow. Great job. $\endgroup$ Commented May 14, 2020 at 13:21

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