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All You Need to Know About Crossword Puzzles

Did you know that crossword puzzles date all the way back to 1913? There’s certainly something to be said about the lifespan of these world-famous brain teasers. They've certainly withstood the test of time, and there’s a reason for their hearty vitality. Before we explore the fascinating history of the crossword, we’ll first debrief you on what exactly is a crossword puzzle in case you’re new to the world of word games. 

Crossword Definition

If you’re interested in the official route, according to the holy Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of a crossword is, “a puzzle in which words are filled into a pattern of numbered squares in answer to correspondingly numbered clues and in such a way that the words read across and down.”

What this means in everyday language is, a crossword is simply a puzzle, formatted on a grid within a square or rectangular form. There are both black and white squares on the page, which need to be filled in by a single-player with letters or words.

The goal is to fill in the white squares with letters moving horizontally or vertically, forming words or phrases which appropriately answer the provided clues. In short, it’s a word game that challenges both your vocabulary and over-all knowledge by using trivia questions that could span anywhere from world history to entertainment.

The Puzzling Path of the Crossword Over the Years

Crossword puzzles have a fascinating history dating back to the early 1900s, but where and how did it all begin? If you’re interested in the country of origin, the crossword was born in England, originally started as a children’s game. When the game made its way across the Atlantic to the United States, it developed into a past time for adults. 

The game first appeared in the newspaper, the New York World, although you may not recognize the game now if you had a peek at its original form. The crossword first appeared in a diamond shape without any black spaces. Within only ten years or so, the diamond was quickly turned over on its side, appearing in almost every newspaper in the United States. 

It was then ping-ponged back to Europe, included as perhaps the finest feature in the newspapers. Interestingly enough, The New York Times wasn’t keen on the idea of printing crossword puzzles in their publication. It was only after the tragedy of Pearl Harbor that they decided to begin printing crosswords as a necessary pastime for Americans during such a stressful time. They all agreed one couldn’t worry over the war while absorbed by the challenges of the crossword. The crossword pioneer Margaret Farrar said, “I don’t think I have to sell you on the increased demand for this type of pastime in an increasingly worried world. You can’t think of your troubles while solving a crossword …” The New York Times was the last major newspaper in the United States to include the crossword in their Sunday print, but by 1950, it severely grew in popularity and was then inaugurated into the daily print. It finally became the most prestigious crossword in the country, and by 2016 there was even a full-page crossword spread on a 50 by 50 grid! Though the New York Times has proven to be the most prestigious crossword puzzle in the United States, some of their most notable competitors are The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The American Values Club and Inkubator Crosswords.    

Types of Crossword Puzzles

The good news is, after all that history, the crossword has developed into many shapes and sizes. This has meant that the crossword now comes in many difficulty levels with alternative challenges for those ready to take on the world of words. Plus, you can play online with your computer or mobile device or with a traditional pen and paper in a book, newspaper, or magazine. Talk about diversity! Seems like you could pretty much play a crossword just about anywhere these days. 

The different types of Crosswords include:

  • Cryptic Puzzle
  • Blocked Grid
  • Barred Grid
  • Sudoku Puzzles
  • Trivia Puzzles
  • Word Puzzles

and would you believe us if we said there are even more?

Anagram & Abbreviation Clues

The clues are only meant to give the player a hint on how to solve the puzzle but are often not meant to be taken literally.

The Cryptic Crossword can come in ‘themed’ or ‘variety’ cryptics where the actual answer to the clue needs to be altered in order to make its way correctly onto the grid. For example, a clue can come as an anagram, which the player has to unscramble. 

An example of an anagram clue looks like this:

Chaperone shredded corset (6)

gives ESCORT, which means chaperone and is an anagram of CORSET, indicated by the word shredded.

Cryptic Crosswords will also use abbreviations in their hints to indicate individual letters within the puzzle, including both consonants and vowels. For example, the word ‘nine’ can be used in the clue to hint at its Roman Numeral letters, ‘IX,’ or cities or states in the United States like, “Maine” can be given as a clue for its abbreviation, ‘ME.’

Clue and Missing Letter Solver

As you can see, the game can get quite challenging. Fortunately, once you’ve As you can see, the game can get quite challenging. All your answers will be at your fingertips with or without your first letter submissions. We strongly encourage you to enter the letters you have already managed to fill.

Currently, clues can lead you in one-too-many directions, which is why most of the crossword quick solvers online can’t generate answers without a little help on your end.

For example, if you have a clue like, ‘Three Letters Computer Key,’ without any letters on the board, the database will have to give you all possible answers like ESC, DEL, TAB. However, once you’ve already put in some hard-earned sweat and smiles, you can use crossword help for a missing letters solver and swiftly move on to even higher levels! And never panic, because as long as you’ve got a game going, we’ve got a word puzzle solver no matter the length or riddle challenge. Consider the WordTips Crossword Solver at your service. 

How to use WordTips Crossword Solver

It’s actually quite simple. Our crossword clue solver was designed so well, it can offer just about every answer for all your hiccups, we’re talking about in the game of course.

Steps

  1. Enter any number of letters you need to fill in
  2. Search for patterns
  3. Enter the clue or keyword provided to get your results.

Any of the options mentioned above will help you unlock the missing word that is holding you back from further advancing into the next levels of your crossword puzzle game.

Popular Crossword Clues

Let’s say you have several cells in a row that are blinking empty, begging to be filled with vowels and consonants. All you have to do is enter the length of the missing word and provide the clue. What’s most important is filling in the clue in the crossword solver to nail the answer in the head. Then, you can enter, say, the number 7, for instance, and seven questions mark will appear in the search bar.

Confused

If you then choose to submit the clue word: CONFUSED, all your seven letter options will appear. Luckily for you, they won’t just appear in random order or alphabetical order, but their highest-ranked order. So, in the said example, you will be provided with the answers INAMESS, yielding a 95% rank, or plenty of 94% ranking words like INAHAZE, DIZZIED plus almost twenty more options to choose from.

Card games

Or let’s say, you have the popular clue "CARD GAMES". Enter the clue words into the clue search bar without providing any length, and voila, you’ll have a 95% word ranked answer like ECARTES, 90% for CANASTAS or SKATS, and more!

It’s really as simple as that. And don’t forget to use the dictionary tool to look up all those new words you’re learning!

9 Interesting Facts About Crossword Puzzles

Fact #1: Cruciverbalism

Creating a crossword puzzle is called Cruciverbalism

Fact #2: Crossword Prohibition

During the Second World War, crossword puzzles were, banned in Paris in fear that secret messages were being passed on to the enemy.

Fact #3: Crossword and Memory

Crossword puzzles are considered to be an excellent exercise for your brain.

Fact #4: The Largest Crossword Size

The giant crossword was 7′x7′ in size, 91,000 squares, and 28,000 clues.

Fact #5: An Ancient Game

In Pompeii, Word square puzzles were uncovered in the ancient ruins.

Fact #6: The Longest Crossword Word

The longest word used in a Crossword had 58 letters, and it was: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (Welsh)

Fact #7: Crossword Puzzles & New York Times

In the New York Times, every Sunday-Thursday NYT crossword has a theme, something that unites the puzzle's longest answers. Theme answers are always found in symmetrical places in the grid.

Fact #8: Most Popular Crossword Genres

There are several types and styles to your crossword puzzle including 

  • American-style grid
  • British/South African-style grid
  • Japanese-style grid
  • Swedish-style grid

Fact #9: Crossword in the Digital Era

The software used for generating new crossword puzzles is as old as 1976. Now, several crossword solver apps use large databases of clues and answers to help players solve their missing words. And the dictionary is always making room for improvement, so don’t be surprised when you learn the new millennial words that have been accepted!