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Another De Profundis weekend, another pair of train journeys, another crossword – and, surprisingly, another success. Unlike last week, no external motivation was necessary, and it all fell into place quite nicely.

How to Spell CAT

Six words, occupying three rows of the grid in total, are clued without their common definition. Using that common definition, with particular reference to one of the six and an answer elsewhere in the grid, each of the three rows can be converted into a letter, spelling the word to be entered below the puzzle. Failed attempts at spelling will need to be removed from clues before solving, adjusting punctuation and spacing where necessary.

  • *3ac: CONFOUND: Study institute (8): CON (study) + FOUND (institute)
  • 11ac: ONUS: Australian crook shirking college responsibility (4):
  • 12ac: DEER: Put off dismissing fellow in moot case, say (4): DEFER (put off) - F(ellow)
  • 13ac: CREMASTERS: Male muscles concerning male among film scouts? (10): RE (concerning) + M(ale) in CASTERS (film scouts)
  • 14ac: AUSTER: American author? American outcast, nothing less, about to backtrack (6): A(merican) + OUST - O (nothing) + reversed RE (about); ref. Paul Auster again!
  • 15ac: OORIAL: See one creature from Oz coming back – a sheep (6): LA (see) + I (one) + ROO (creature from Oz) all reversed
  • 16ac: NEIF: Direct action for Newcastle’s provided by elderly duke (4): NE (Newcastle’s region is ‘the North East’) + IF (provided)
  • 17ac: MENU: Choctaw soldiers heading for Utah (4): MEN (soldiers) + U(tah)
  • 19ac: ESTH: Religious book, one of religious origin (4): Double Definition
  • 20ac: OUTDO: Perform better than party that’s not elected? (5): OUT (not elected) DO (party)
  • 22ac: SPIKY: Spot punctured by one tack with sharp point (5): SPY (spot) around I (one) K
  • *24ac: BLOW: Bass, definitely not soprano... (4): B(ass) + LOW (not soprano)
  • *25ac: RUSH: ... consequence of time off hard for tenor... (4): RUST (consequence of time off) - T(enor) + H(ard)
  • *26ac: LONG: ... soprano abandoning hard work to secure note (4): SLOG (hard work) - S(oprano) around N(ote)
  • 27ac: ESTEEM: Regard half of bees in front of swarm (6): (be)ES + TEEM (swarm)
  • 28ac: I SAY: Look at this approach to saving yen (4, two words): ISA (approach to saving; ref. ISA) + Y(en)
  • 32ac: FARE: Funk’s heading live do (4): F(unk) + ARE (live)
  • 34ac: TEEN: No participant in society recalls this grief of old (4): NEET (no participant in society; ref. NEET) reversed
  • 36ac: COOS: Old relative ignoring fashionable signs of affection (4): COOSIN (obs. “cousin”) - IN (fashionable)
  • 37ac: YUAN: Chinese plant not accepting pounds – but accepting these? (4): YULAN (Chinese plant) - L (pounds) &lit.
  • 39ac: SCOUTHER: Spy that woman’s toast in Edinburgh (8): SCOUT (spy) + HER (that woman)
  • 40ac: SLOB: Awkward, lacking dash, recalled as a boor (4):
  • 41ac: DELI: Composer avoiding us in foodstore (6): DELIUS (ref. Frederick Delius) - US
  • 42ac: FEES: Payment fact judge rejected (4): F + SEE (judge) reversed
  • *43ac: HYPHEN: Offend old woman disrepectfully (6): HYP (obs. “offend”) + HEN (slang “woman”)
  • *44ac: SPRINT: Journey time includes end of tour (6): SPIN (journey) + T(ime) around (tou)R
  • 1dn: ROMANO-BRITISH: Harm bistro with action arranged as description of historic style? (13): *(HARM BISTRO ION)
  • 2dn: ON CUE: Lactate around third quarter of hour, when required (5, two words): ONCE (late) around (ho)U(r)
  • 3dn: CURSITOR: Ancient Court official ruined our tactics before King (8): *(OUR TICS) + R (King)
  • 4dn: NAME: A million resident in Nebraska state (4): A M(illion) in NE (Nebraska)
  • 5dn: FLARE-OUT: Area not about to be placed in mock component of airstrip design: AREA - A(bout) in FLOUT (mock)
  • 6dn: OPSONISE: Improve edibility of pies, soon, with cooking (8): *(PIES SOON)
  • 7dn: UNTO: To point, as before, shows no hint of politeness (5): PUNTO (obs. “point”) - P(oliteness)
  • 8dn: DERISION: Tacit gibes rumoured to circle around King and I (8): NOISED (rumoured) reversed around R (King) + I
  • 9dn: RESAT: Stun gun, kicking upward, was tested again (5): TASER (stun gun) reversed
  • 10dn: ORAL HYGIENIST: This legionary in a flat cap could do for health worker (13): *(THIS LEGIONARY)
  • 17dn: MORSE CODE: Symbolic language, increasingly imitating English, used around Sweden (9, two words): MORE (increasingly) + COD (imitating) + E(nglish) around S(weden)
  • 18dn: USHERSHIP: Escort’s function, taking our group plundering up north (9): US (our group) + HERSHIP (Scot. “plundering”, again)
  • 21dn: ULES: Top’s worn off red rubbers (4): (g)ULES (red)
  • 23dn: KNAR: Tack North on a river, making one knot (4): K + N(orth) + A + R(iver)
  • 29dn: AESOP: Story-teller’s promoted main work (5): SEA (main) reversed + OP (work)
  • 30dn: ROUEN: Libertine taking on new hectare in France? (5): ROUE (libertine) + N(ew)
  • 31dn: ROTLS: Talks nonsense, including pound in variable quantities (5): ROTS (talks nonsense) around L (pound)
  • 33dn: AUREI: Former operation’s brought in excellent antique gold coins (5): URE (obs. “operation”) in AI (excellent)
  • 35dn: EELY: No longer happy to relinquish first of fish (4): (s)EELY (obs. “happy”)
  • 38dn: AMEN: Agree broth’s recipe’s forgotten (4): RAMEN (broth) - R(ecipe)

Anagrams of CAT (not quite all of them; they’re left alone in 37ac) have to be removed from some of the clues before solving; I particularly liked “in a flat cap” → “in a flap”. The unclued entries’ common definition is dash; writing them out gives —/— — —/— —, or with particular reference to MORSE CODE, ‘TOM’. Which is how to spell CAT.