Satisfying anagram

The following clue appeared recently in The Times crossword:

Capable of making tin cans (7 letters)

The answer was Stannic.

Like many cryptic crossword clues, this one contains two components:

  • Instructions for assembling the answer. In this case, making is an indication that the answer is an anagram of material in the clue. The answer in this one is an anagram of tin cans.
  • a definition of the answer: in this case, capable of making tin cans. Stannic means of the metal tin, or pertaining to the metal tin. The word comes from the Latin Stannum, also meaning tin.
    (When precision is needed, stannic refers to tetravalent tin and stannous refers to bivalent tin.)

The clue is particularly pleasing because the phrase tin cans plays two roles in the clue. It supplies the letters used in the anagram and it is part of the definition: something that is stannic can be used to make tin cans.

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