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A crossword (or crossword puzzle) is a word puzzle comprising a series of clues and a grid of squares into which the answers are written.


At least in languages where text is written from left to right, the answers may be written "across" (horizontally from left to right) or "down" (vertically), one letter per square. Answers written across intersect answers written down, and the letters from solved clues can be used to help solve intersecting clues.

Not every square in a crossword grid is used, and unused squares are usually blacked out by the crossword compiler. Grids are usually square or sometimes rectangular, but at times comprise a sparse arrangement where each word intersects only one or a very few other words, and the spaces between answers is simply left blank.

Typically, the first square for each answer includes a small number that corresponds to one of the numbered clues.


Crosswords normally have one of two types of clues: simple, or cryptic.

In some cases, a crossword might come with both simple and cryptic clues, which may both refer to the same answers, or may be in effect two different crosswords both using the same grid.

Simple clues

Simple clues are words or short phrases, for which the solution might be either a synonym of the clue (i.e. a word with a similar meaning) or an example of the clue.

For example, if the clue was "Harbour", the answer might be "port" (a synonym) or "Aden" (the name of a particular harbour, in this case in Yemen).

Cryptic clues

Cryptic clues are normally phrases consisting of two parts, one part being a simple clue and the other being the cryptic part, but both referring to the same answer. Part of the puzzle of the clue is working out which is which.

The cryptic part can take a number of different forms, including anagrams, a consecutive sequence of letters in the clue, taking some letters backwards, using initial letters, and combinations of these. Quite often there will be a hint within the clue as to what form of cryptic clue is involved, but figuring out what the hint is also part of the puzzle.

The following table lists and explains some cryptic clues:

Clue Simple part Cryptic part(s) Hint(s) Explanation Solution
Part of body that's rubbish, we hear part of body rubbish we hear "we hear" indicates that a homonym is involved waist (sounds like waste)
Confused liberal form of writing form of writing liberal confused "confused" (in this case) indicates an anagram braille (anagram of "liberal")
Warmth from the lathe attachment warmth lathe attachment from "from" indicates that the answer is obtained from the clue heat (lathe attachment)
50 circle the morning dirt dirt 50 circle the morning The Roman numeral for 50 is "L". "Circle" represents the letter of that shape (O). "the morning" is "a.m." loam (l+o+am)
Route to return a tap to the capital of Hungary. route tap, Hungary return, capital of "return" indicates that the word (tap) is backwards (pat). The capital (letter) of "Hungary" is "H". path (pat+h)
Flower of London Flower of London While you normally think of a "flower" as part of a plant, in this case it is something that flows, such as a river. Thames


1   2   3  
4 5 6
7 8


1. Vehicles on rails.
4. English school.
7. Osculation.
9. More than one.


1. Large water container.
2. Primates.
3. New.
5. Ruler.
6. Man's name.
8. Sick.

See here for the solution.