CROSSWORDS: Terminology & Types
CROSSWORDS: Terminology & Types
Tue, 01/18/2011 - 18:27
- Crosswords vary widely
- by difficulty, size and shape
- by style / grid: free-form, themed, rebus, barred, cipher, diagramless, fill-in, etc.
- by language
- by authors, editors, publishers.
- puzzle, word puzzle
- "a problem or enigma that tests the ingenuity of the solver"
- "the study of all that puzzles" ~Will Shortz his self-designed major at Indiana Univ.
- "word puzzle that normally takes the form of a square or rectangular grid of white and shaded squares.
Squares in which answers begin are usually numbered.
The clues are then referred to by these numbers and a direction."
- Afrikaans: blokkiesraaisel
- Dutch: kruiswoordraadsel
- French: mots croises (grilles)
- German: kreuzwortratsel
- Italian: cruciverba
- Latin: crucivocabulorum
- Portuguese: palavras cruzadas
- Spanish: crucigrama
- Swedish: korsord
- Turkish: bulmaca
- 90+ languages via Google Translate: "crossword"; 51+ languages via Bing translator, incl. Klingon!
- How to Say Crossword in Different Languages
- Crosswords in other languages examples; 5/29/2013
- Wikipedia: crosswords in other languages, cryptics in other languages; crossword orthography
- white cells
- or lights
- checked, keyed or crossed
- "A white cell that is part of two entries (both Across and Down);
a white cell that is part of only one entry is called unchecked, unkeyed or uncrossed." (uncommon in US puzzles)
- black squares
- or darks, blanks, blocks, shaded squares
- entries or answers
- "horizontal and vertical lines of white cells into which answers are written"
- Fill In The ___
- an answer that any player will get easily, e.g., 'Lincoln's nickname' in three letters
- "words frequently found in crossword puzzles but seldom found in everyday conversation", e.g., SERE, OLIO, OMOO, ULEE, ETUI, ANOA, YSER, ERN, ERNE, NENE; fewer in 'better' puzzles; more lists under Solving: Vocabulary
- straight or quick
- usually simple definitions; maybe anagrams; rules/conventions;
themes (category; quotes; puns; commemoration; rebus); indirect?
- e.g., UK cryptics. "clues are puzzles in themselves. A typical clue contains a definition at the beginning or end of the clue, and wordplay, which describes the word indicated by the definition, and which may not parse logically, but should be grammatical."
- typically, a cryptic grid isn't 'fully crossed'; a cryptic clue has two parts: definition; other part may signal an anagram, pun, reversal, etc.
- NYT "Puns & Anagrams" are an easier form: fully crossed grid, with fewer cryptic clue types
- double-clue lists
- choose between straight or cryptic clues
Grid Size, Shape, Style
- American-style (US) grid
- solid areas of white squares; every letter checked; symmetry (180-degree rotational)
- Wikipedia: New York Times (NYT)
- Why are crossword puzzles symmetric?
- grid sizes
- mini: 5 x 5, e.g., NYT
- weekday: usually 15 x 15
- weekend: 21 x 21, 23 x 23
- jumbo: 27 x 27
- 'super mega': 50 x 50 (NYT: 12/18/2016); 53 x 53 (NYT: 12/17/2017)
Puzzle Mania! Will Shortz's Inside Look podcast: 11:25; special 16 pp. NYT paper-only section:
50x50 NYT crossword (728 clues); Sudoku; Acrostics; Word games; Visual puzzles; 12/16/2016
- rectangular: foreign; Mug
- custom shapes, e.g., maps, tree, heart, etc.
- British-style (UK) grid
- lattice-like structure; more shaded and unchecked squares; symmetry (180-degree rotational)
- Wikipedia: Cryptic
- France, Italy
- crosswords are smaller than English-language crosswords, and not necessarily square
- they need not be symmetric and two-letter words are allowed
- Italian crosswords are usually oblong and larger than French ones
- shaded cells may not share a side; the corner squares must be white
- one syllable (typically katakana) rather than one letter is entered into each white cell
- no clue numbers; shaded cells are often replaced by boxes with clues (arrows, photos)
- free-form crosswords (criss-cross or vocabulary puzzles)
- simple, non symmetric designs. Grids forming shapes other than squares are also occasionally used.
- essentially four small puzzles joined in the center by a few letters. Each quadrant needs to be solved separately. example
- circular designs
- answers entered either radially or in concentric circles
- spiral / petal puzzle
- "All the answers are the same length. The grid consists of two sets of crisscrossing arcs, and the somewhat irregular diamond-shaped spaces between these arcs are the grid cells. These cells line up in two different directions along the different sets of arcs, usually described as traveling clockwise and counterclockwise around the hole in the center. Usually the outside cells are numbered clockwise, starting at the top of the grid, and there are somewhere between 16 and 24 of these numbers. Clues are provided for each numbered clockwise and counterclockwise entry. The grid is topologically equivalent to a diagonal strip of constant width in a conventional crossword grid which wraps around at the ends."; example
- Will Shortz Explains How a Spiral Puzzle Comes Around 12/16/2017
- split decisions
- figure out pairs of words that share letter strings; example
- barred crosswords
- bold lines between squares (instead of shaded squares) separate answers
- diagramless, skeleton
- "the grid offers overall dimensions, but the locations of most of the clue numbers and shaded squares are unspecified. A solver must deduce not only the answers to individual clues, but how to fit together partially built-up clumps of answers into larger clumps with properly-set shaded squares."
- cipher crosswords / codewords
- "clues for each white cell of the grid - an integer from 1 to 26 inclusive is printed in the corner of each. The objective, as any other crossword, is to determine the proper letter for each cell; in a cipher crossword, the 26 numbers serve as a cipher for those letters: cells that share matching numbers are filled with matching letters, and no two numbers stand for the same letter. All resultant entries must be valid words. Usually, at least one number's letter is given at the outset. English-language cipher crosswords are nearly always pangrammatic." example
- fill-in, crusadex
- "a grid and the full list of words to be entered in that grid, but does not give explicit clues for where each word goes. The challenge is figuring out how to integrate the list of words together within the grid so that all intersections of words are valid."
- larger puzzles are not necessarily more difficult, but can intimidate and take longer
- "commuter" crossword
- usually "quick and easy" clues Mon-Fri; often comparable to NYT Mon
- increasing difficulty, e.g., NYT, LAT
- Mon, Tue: 'easiest'
- Wed: 'medium difficulty'
- Thu: 'more difficult'
- Fri, Sat: 'most difficult' -- usually themeless
- Sun: like 'hard Wed' or 'easy Thu' but larger (21x21)
- seven (Mon-Sun) songs inspired by NYT Crossword puzzle difficulty (.mp3)
- American Crossword Puzzle Tournament
- oldest/largest US crossword puzzle tournament; official ACPT site 2005 tournament featured in 2006 movie WordPlay
- World Puzzle Championship
- e.g., NYT Fri & Sat; Newsday "Saturday Stumper"
- puzzles that are just lists of unrelated words
- crossword in which several (usually longer) entries share some relationship, type of pun, or other element in common, e.g., category, quotation, rebus, commemorative event; hints to theme are often found in puzzle title, and in marked clues (e.g., *, ?, CAPS) or special clues (e.g., 'the theme is'; 'marked clues share'); List of theme categories and examples
- type of puzzle in which a square can be filled in with a sequence of letters, or a digit or picture/symbol
- we'll see examples during Solving: Discover the Theme
- "quantum" (or Schrödinger) crossword
- simultaneously has 2 states
- vowel play
- "best of 'split decisions' and 'Schrödinger; puzzles"; example
- Vowel Play 1/7/2018
- denoting a grid in which all of the letters of the alphabet appear. Sometimes "pangram" is used synonymously -- though this may be incorrect. "A holoalphabetic crossword without an ulterior purpose is like a can of Campbell's alphabet soup ('oh, let me see if they are all there'). What it is not is a 'pangram' -- an overused misnomer of crossword bloggers. A pangram is a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet. A holoalphabetic crossword allows the construction of a pangram." ~NYT Crossword in Gothic
- acronym for The New York Times, the newspaper that has, arguably more than any other, set the standards for American-style crosswords. Other respected crosswords: LAT = Los Angeles Times; WSJ = The Wall Street Journal; WP = The Washington Post
- offering reprint rights and granting permissions to other parties for republishing content. "The New York Times crossword puzzle is a daily puzzle found in The New York Times and online at the paper's website. It is also syndicated to over 300 other newspapers and journals." There is usually a time lag before 'current' NYT puzzle appears in other papers (Mail Tribune: Sun =+1 week); Oregonian: daily =+5 weeks); 6 weeks for some online sites; longer for printed puzzle books and calendars.
- crossword authors; US: "constructors"; non-US: "setters", "compilers"
- responsible for selecting and editing crossword puzzles, e.g., moderate the clues so they match the desired degree of difficulty for that day of the week; this can involve significant changes to words or grid
- Across Lite file format created by Litsoft that contains the puzzle: title, author, grid, clues, guesses, solution, notes
- .puz files provided by some newspaper sites (NYT in 1996), opened by applications such as Across Lite, Crosswords, ...details: text format, binary format
- to convert a crossword puzzle into the Across Lite (.puz) format, so it can be solved on a computer (after "Litsoft")
Other Word Puzzles
- Wikipedia: Word board games; Word games; Word puzzles
- see also game shows under History
- acrostic; How Acrostic Puzzles Work; Quiz
- Alpha Omega unscramble each puzzle with only first and last letters as your guide
- cross-figure, crossnumber: "numerical analogy of a crossword [or fill-in], in which the solutions to the clues are numbers instead of words. Clues are usually arithmetical expressions, but can also be general knowledge clues to which the answer is a number or year."
- crosswordoku; sample
- cryptogram; How Cryptograms Work; How Cryptoquotes Work
- Dabble Will Stretch Your Brain in New Ways combo Scrabble and crosswords; dabblegame.com; 4/15/2012
- jumble; Jumble crosswords (Mail Tribune)
- kakuro: Cross-sums; kind of a combination of crossword and sudoku puzzles; How Kakuro Puzzles Work; Quiz
- NYT Op-Ed Puzzles
- Puzzle Mania! Will Shortz's Inside Look podcast: 11:25; special 12/18/16 pp. section: 50x50 NYT crossword (728 clues); Sudoku; Acrostics; Word games; Visual puzzles; 12/16/2016
- palindrome; The Palindromist Magazine; palindromelist.net; thinks.com
- 'Rise to Vote, Sir.' 'Now I Won!' World Palindrome Champion Crowned (at ACPT); 3/27/2012
- Puzzazz site
- Quiddler cross between Scrabble and the card game gin rummy; How Quiddler Works
- Can You Do The Regular Expression Crossword? from MIT Mystery Hunt; 2/12/2013
- Scrabble; How Scrabble Works; Scrabble variants
- He Showed Me His Tiles, So I Showed Him Mine 12/7/2017
- How 'Qi' And 'Za' Changed Scrabble 4/19/2018
- Tale Of How Woman Started Making Earrings Out Of Scrabble Tiles Even More Spellbinding Than Anticipated The Onion; 2/5/2016
- Dear Nigel Richards, Please Try Romanian Scrabble more words than French; 7/22/2015
- The French Scrabble champion who speaks no French Nigel Richards memorized French dictionary; 7/22/2015
- 7 Incredible Things You Didn't Know About Professional Scrabble 6/17/2015
- Thousand of new words added to Scrabble dictionary lolz, shizzle, obvs, twerking, emoji, bezzy and ridic; quinzhee; onesie, devo, vape, and shootie; facetime, hashtag, and sexting; augh, blech, eew, grr, waah and yeesh; 5/21/2015
- Can New Words With Friends reignite your competitive pseudo-Scrabble addiction? 10/14/2014
- Who Owns Scrabble's Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company; players beg to differ; 9/30/2014
- W-I-N-N-E-R! Oregon man crowned Scrabble champ 8/13/2014
- What Makes Nigel Richards The Best Scrabble Player On Earth 8/8/2014
- Now You Can Use The Word 'Selfie' in Scrabble dictionary updated; 8/4/2014
- The Next Qi and Za Scrabble will let players pick its first new word in nine years; 3/13/2014
- National Scrabble Day: A Poem So You'll Know All 101 Two-Letter Words less relevant for crosswords where 3 letters is normal minimum; 4/13/2013
- How Words With Friends Beat Scrabble At Its Own Game 1/24/2012
- Str8ts logic-based number-placement puzzle
- txtpert: players decode numeric clues by referencing a telephone-style number pad. For example, the number 2 could be the letters A, B or C (letters found on the number 2 key). The clue for the word "CAT" would be the number 228 but those same numbers also spell out the word "BAT" or "ACT" (seen in USA Today; texting skills handy).
- You Should Play: W.E.L.D.E.R. kind of a cross between Boggle and Tetris; iOS; 8/24/2012
- word ladder
- Wikipedia: Crossword
- Word-Buff Glossary
- WordPuzzle Pro