All About Crosswords

For Crossword Puzzle Lovers Everywhere!

Bay Area Crosswords

Everything You Need To Know About Crossword Puzzles

A crossword puzzle, to this day, is a highly popular form of a word puzzle, usually still available in newspapers and magazines. However, you can also buy crossword puzzle books. Most crosswords will consist of a diagram, a rectangular one most times, which are then divided into both white and black squares.

The black squares are canceled. However, some crosswords will have variations of the black square, such as crosshatched and shaded.

The latest colored crossword books even have green, red, and other colors, but those are rare.

The diagram comes accompanied by two numbered lists of definitions or maybe clues, depending on the person who made the crossword. One of those goes horizontal, and the other runs down vertically; these numbers then correspond to the identical digits on the diagram.

Every blank square in the diagram has a particular letter or an alphabet inserted into it when put together form the word that needs to fit the clue or definitions. The words will also cross each other ideally if you get it right and interlock, which is why it is called a crossword.

What's The Difference Between Word Search and Crossword Puzzles?

Word Search and crossword puzzles are similar, but they have different goals. Word searches, for example, focus on pattern recognition, while crossword puzzles are based on clues. Some clues are misleading and make it challenging to find the answer. This often results in second-guessing and a creative thinking process.

However, they are both fun to play and can be a great way to learn new words. For example if the answer is small business insurance - a crossword would probably be harder to get than a word search.

What's The History Of Crossword Puzzles?

Crossword Puzzle

The history of crossword puzzles dates back to 1913. A journalist named Arthur Wynne was asked by the New York World to write a crossword puzzle and published it the following month. It wasn't long before other newspapers jumped on the bandwagon and published their own crossword puzzles. Arthur Wynne made crossword puzzles to entertain readers and serve as a brain teaser.

The first book on crossword puzzles sold 300,000 copies in its first year and helped creators Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster start America's largest publishing company. Simon and Schuster were motivated by their aunt, an avid crossword lover. She asked the duo to publish a book of crosswords, and it was a runaway success.

Publishing of the book fueled a spike in dictionary sales. And as the crossword puzzle became more popular, fabrics with black and white squares became fashionable.

By the mid-twentieth century, crosswords were published in almost every newspaper in the United States, the Atlantic, and Europe. This growth made them one of the most popular past-times among adults. Today, there are even mobile phone apps that contain crosswords.

Crosswords are among the best, most fun ways to improve vocabulary and learn new words. That, according to historians, is one reason why the educated class in the US back then had such a vast vocabulary.

To help you solve crossword puzzles, we offer a free crossword dictionary where you can look up those hard to find words:

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

What Are The Different Types Of Crossword Puzzles?

Types Of Crossword Puzzles

The different types of crossword puzzles or variations boil down to their underlying rules. Logic crosswords are diagramless puzzles, while word puzzles are usually filled with a set of letters. Some crosswords feature more than one type of symmetry, such as left to right or rotational symmetry. Regardless of balance, however, a crossword must be completed correctly to win. Getting even one of the clues or words wrong will throw you into a tailspin; that's one of the reasons why it keeps people hooked to this day.

Code Word

Codeword puzzles use a grid smaller than the standard black square and are typically comprised of 32 to 36 answers. These puzzles can be particularly challenging because the clues include twists or misprints. They require excellent observational skills and may need people to search diagonally, upwards, or downwards to find the correct answer. These types of crossword puzzles are some of the world's most popular and available in countless styles and themes.


Metapuzzles are crossword puzzles with a twist. These puzzles combine several types of crossword puzzles into one. The design and structure of these puzzles make it possible for players to try educated guesses while solving them. The resulting process is much more fun and challenging.

While a typical crossword puzzle may have a few words that are common to many people, metapuzzles are often based on a specific theme. For instance, the crossword puzzle Cruciform Heraldry uses the 26 cantons of Switzerland as its basis. Likewise, the White Queen metapuzzle uses the 26 tracks from the Beatles' Red Album compilation. The answer words can also provide inspiration.

Metapuzzles are crossword puzzles that promise elusive pleasure when solved. Like a hit of crack, these puzzles are similar to an 'aha moment' in the crossword world. The key difference is that these puzzles ask the solver to answer a question before revealing the answer to the puzzle. Metapuzzles add another level of complexity. If the old crossword isn't as much fun anymore, metapuzzles are sure to take your experience to the next level.

Cryptic Crosswords

These puzzles are similar to traditional crosswords but contain more difficult word clues. They are especially popular in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Israel, and the Netherlands. But where do they come from? And how can you find a good cryptic crossword?

Most cryptic crosswords contain a small enumeration at the end of the clue. It tells how many words and letters make up the answer. Some also include punctuation. A comma indicates spaces so that solvers can't mistake the enumeration for a space. Some unique examples of cryptic crosswords include a puzzle with the answer enumerated by the word "pound."

Some cryptics are written by writers whose own names are obscure or pseudonyms. Unlike traditional crosswords, cryptics have a greater level of difficulty. Even the most simple cryptic crosswords can take up to four hours to complete. And some of the best ones have such a high difficulty level, ensuring that even a computer might struggle with them. The most difficult cryptic crosswords have been written by authors with distinctive clue writing styles.

Another cryptic crossword clue is based on the state of a country. A state, such as DC, is represented by KS, while the capital is represented by NY. Likewise, US cryptics are less likely to be used outside the US. However, Indian cryptics are more likely to contain names like UP or MP. The same can be said of countries like China and Japan.

A cryptic crossword cheat sheet will also be beneficial for solving this puzzle type. It will give you reference lists, explanations of clue devices, and even a hint on the division between the clue's parts. As you can see, cryptic crosswords can be challenging, but with patience and perseverance, you'll be rewarded with hours of fun. Remember, there are no shortcuts to success and no guarantee of winning!

While these crosswords often use the anagram rule to make words more challenging, a double definition can be a great way to get the ball rolling. You'll learn to recognize and use code words and spot cryptic clues. Developing this skill will make you a more proficient crossword solver. It may seem challenging initially, but the benefits are worth the effort.

Double Clue Lists

The clues on the double clue lists are often numbered. This allows the user to identify the correct answer quickly. If the response has multiple letters, the grid moves to the bottom of the list and the highlighted cell. Once the solution is found, the grid checks if the clue matches the word on the top of the next cell.

A type of double-clue list is the Siamese Twins. This crossword has two matching grids, one of which contains a clue to the answer. The two lists merge into a single list, and solving it involves determining which clue goes where. Another type of double-clue list is a cross-reference. This involves using one answer for another. The clues will be labeled with a question mark or parentheses if they are wordplay or puns.

Wordplay and double-meaning clues combine two concepts in a single answer. Depending on the situation, these clues can be difficult or easy to solve. The answer to "Cat's tongue" in the puzzle is PERSIAN. The hint has a double meaning, combining cat and language. While double-meaning crosswords are not uncommon, double-clue lists can be a fun challenge. These clues can be used in crossword puzzles, but they should only be used when they have a dual meaning.

American-Style Crosswords

Despite the similarities, there are also some significant differences between American-style and British-style crossword puzzles. Both are written on a grid, but American-style crosswords generally feature a theme or a standard reference. Clues may reference other letters but are not necessarily highlighted or circled.

An American-style crossword is typically composed of three to five long entries. In a standard 15x15-square "weekday" crossword, a theme will consist of a relationship, pun, or some other element. For example, on April 26, 2005, New York Times crossword, five themed entries ended in different parts of a tree. This crossword puzzle style requires a high degree of accuracy and will reward those who take the time to study the clues carefully.

Diagramless Crosswords

Diagramless crosswords are a new type of puzzle. They follow the usual crossword rules, except that there are no isolated squares or two-letter words. As a result, every letter in the grid can be used as an Across or Down answer. Each clue is numbered, beginning with one for the top row and increasing from left to right. The grid is divided into rows and columns; each row is composed of a different number. This is done in a descending fashion, which means that every row of clues has a different number. This means that every number in the grid is a possible Across answer and that the Down answer is the same as the Across clue.

Some diagramless crosswords are diagonally symmetrical, with the blackened squares containing the answers. This means that you have to use logic and crossword skills to solve them. Some have normal symmetry, while others are shaped like pictures. You can also choose to play with the symmetry of the puzzle by printing out a sample.

Another way to approach a diagramless crossword is to write down the clues. You can also write down the clues' length to refer to them when looking for the answer to a crossword with a specific letter. However, if you are unfamiliar with diagramless crosswords, solving one can be immensely challenging, so it certainly isn't for crossword beginners.

Who Are The Leading Crossword Constrcutors?

There are several famous crossword constructors in the world. Harvey Estes and Ed Early are two of the best known. Harvey Estes has more than one hundred puzzles in the NY Times, making him the eighth most prolific constructor of all time. Estes's work has also been published in many other publications, and he is one of the contributing editors of The Crosswords Club.

Harvey Estes

Harvey Estes, a resident of New York, created "Divided Countries," a crossword puzzle that splits country names into two-word phrases. Then each country is placed in its own grid. He is one of the country's top constructors, with 116 crossword puzzles published in the New York Times, making him the eighth most prolific NYT constructor. In addition to the NY Times, Harvey Estes has had his puzzles appear in CroSynergy, and is a contributor to Rich Norris's Crosswords.

Richard Silvestri

Originally from Brooklyn, Richard Silvestri is an American puzzle composer. He is the regular composer of New York Times cryptic crosswords. Silvestri also teaches at Nassau Community College in Long Island.

Silvestri has also co-hosted the Crossword Magazine Memorial Beer Bash and created puzzles for countless other publications. This article provides an overview of Silvestri's career, and it contains many interesting facts.

In addition to his crossword construction work, Silvestri has written many books and articles on puzzles. He has also written cryptic puzzles for various publications, including the NY Times and USA Today. His puzzles have also appeared in the LA Times and NY Sun. He has written over 400 puzzle books and has compiled over twenty thousand puzzle magazines and books.

Brendan Emmett Quigley

Besides constructing the New York Times crossword puzzle, Brendan Emmett Quigley also creates custom puzzles for various publications and websites. In fact, Brendan has worked on puzzles for Phish, The Decemberists, St. Martin's Press, and Uncle John's Bathroom Reader, among other notable clients. His puzzles are also published in various print media, including The New Yorker and the Wall Street Journal.

In addition to creating crosswords, Emmett Quigley is an accomplished musician, having been a guitarist in the Boston band Arcade Fire. After phone calls from publishers, he began spinning his own puzzles. His crosswords often incorporate pop-culture references, and his writing is praised for conveying a youthful sensibility. In fact, Quigley even once used a reference to a band called Radiohead in a crossword!

David Rosen

David Rosen is a top-notch constructor who lives in Brooklyn, near Prospect Park. His modest wooden house barely allows the cable man in. He gets up early each morning and does a word search to focus his mind. He then spends the rest of his day dividing his time between a crossword grid and reference books. Although he has been in the business for many years, today's crossword constructors increasingly rely on computer programs and databases of common clues.

Who Are The Female Crossword Creators?

Female Crossword Creators

There is a lot of talk about the gender imbalance in crossword construction. Some people argue that computer-assisted construction and computational approaches are contributing to this issue. Other people argue that this issue is not directly related to women's lack of representation in the field but to the way they think. A lack of representation in this industry means that clues can be racially or gender insensitive. To combat this imbalance, some experts have suggested mentoring and encouraging women, crossword constructors.

The first thing to consider is the skill of the constructor. While some people have the gift of writing a puzzle, others struggle to do it on a regular basis.

According to Amy Reynaldo, co-editor of the Daily Celebrity Crossword, the decline in female crossword constructors can be attributed to changes in the lifestyle of working women. The resulting shortage of time for female crossword constructors could be partly due to the fact that they are more likely to have a demanding jobs. Even then, there are quite a few notable female crossword creators.

Some female crossword constructors include:

Anna Shechtman

Despite this decline in the number of female crossword constructors, Shechtman has made a name for herself as one of the most successful female crossword constructors. Since joining The New York Times as an assistant puzzle editor, she has influenced dozens of grids, and her work has helped to justify some modern words. In addition to making the crossword world more inclusive, she has also welcomed a new generation of crossword enthusiasts.

Shechtman's first crossword puzzle was themed "midterm," and she was only twenty-five when she decided to try her hand at this new endeavor. Since then, she has been working to make crosswords more inclusive for a diverse readership. And while it may be a daunting task, it is one that rewards the mind and entertains at the same time.

Mary Pao

Mary Pao has, over the years, used her experience as a crossword constructor to subvert the traditional norms and encourage voices that are underrepresented. In her new book, Women In Crossword Constructors: The Power of Women in the Field, Pao details the many ways that women have made crossword puzzles.

Since the creation of Pao's first crossword puzzle in 2006, he puzzles are the most sought after in the industry. Her early puzzles included Baton Rouge restaurants, Mardi Gras parades, French Quarter street names, and New Orleans Hornets.

Who Are The Best Crossword Solvers?

The late Ruth Franc Von Phul was a famous New York City native and one of the most competitive female crossword solvers in America. A highly educated Manhattanite, she was also a celebrated Joyce scholar. She became so popular that nearly every newspaper scrambled to create features for her crosswords. She was so successful that even musicians wrote songs based on her crosswords.

The crossword industry has long been considered a mark of high intellectual ability, with the task of solving a New York Times crossword in ink being considered a high watermark of bourgeois mental ability.

Solving a crossword requires experience, a high mental aptitude, and the ability to focus. Some even say that an understanding of the crossword creator can help to understand clues and solve puzzles faster. Regardless, there are many people that solve puzzles each day, but most may leave it halfway through.