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Cryptic crossword clue 21 down from Telegraph puzzle #29,363.

Sort of art foundation almost inspiring amateur (7)

We have the letters O_I_A_I. We believe the answer is ORIGAMI (we came up with it ourselves, but we checked with an online crossword assistant which didn't identify any other possible words). But we don't understand the wordplay part of the clue. It appears to be of the form "definition part, followed by wordplay part" with the definition part being "sort of art".

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The definition

Is indeed ‘sort of art’

And the wordplay is

Foundation almost -> ORIGI N
Inspiring amateur -> Inspiring as insertion indicator, and amateur gives ‘am’
Foundation almost inspiring amateur -> ORIG(AM)I N

I haven’t heard of that container indicator used before, but it does appear in this list of containers (apparently it can mean ‘breathe in’, thanks @jafe!).

The abbreviation also is very uncommon but does appear in things such as ‘pro-am’.

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I was just now typing the same thing. $\endgroup$ – Lanny Strack May 17 at 12:15
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    $\begingroup$ Apparently "inspire" can mean "breathe in"... TIL $\endgroup$ – jafe May 17 at 13:24
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    $\begingroup$ @jafe never heard of it in that context before :P $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil May 17 at 13:38
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    $\begingroup$ @jafe and expire also means to breathe out :) $\endgroup$ – user40528 May 18 at 8:27

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