A cryptic crossword clue is given as "Pay by a quarter to eight". 5 letters. The answer from Wordplays is "screw" and it fits other answers across. But why? I've looked at it forwards, backwards and upside down but it makes no sense. Anyone have any idea?
My explanation is
A screw is the pay you are getting - "I am on a good screw."
Lexico has for screw
5 An amount of salary or wages.
It starts with S - south - a compass point - a quarter.
Lexico has for quarter
5 The direction of one of the points of the compass, especially as a direction from which the wind blows.
It ends with CREW - an "eight" - a rowing crew.
Lexico has for eight
1.5 An eight-oared rowing boat or its crew.
So that is a quarter S + eight CREW = SCREW.
According to multiple dictionaries, including Collins, a British dictionary, screw is chiefly British slang for salary, wages, i.e. pay. That covers the straight clue.
For the cryptic clue... I'm not sure about the following, but one of the definitions for the Cockney rhyming slang four-by-two is screw as in prison office. And four-by-two is dividing eight into quarters.
It's not really satisfying, but it sort of fits.