Cryptic Crosswords. Tips and Advices

Many people find crosswords a good exercise for their mind. Besides, it is a good time filler, especially when you come across a really tricky crossword which will make you come back to it when you have some free time or on a way somewhere.

There are various types of crossword puzzles, but the one that really stands out is the British cryptic crossword. Unlike its simpler counterparts, this one requires putting your brain to good use, simply looking for the fitting word in the dictionary or using the crossword solver will not give you the solution.

The cryptic crosswords are regularly published in the British newspapers as daily crosswords. They are probably so popular in the UK because of the specific features of the English language; many words can have a lot of meanings, which can be challenging when doing a crossword. However, it’s impossible to doubt the answer in the cryptic crosswords once you have found it. Nevertheless, wordplay and numerous meanings are often used in the clues here. This can make them look completely absurd, because you should never read the clue as a single phrase, hoping that it will point to the answer. That is one thing to keep in mind, along with other tips which will make the answers for cryptic crosswords seem much more obvious.

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What to Look For in the Clues

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Look at the clue and try to break it into several parts. Then try to figure out, whether the certain part is a direct definition, or some kind of wordplay, pointing at the solution. Different parts of the clue can also be anagrams of the parts of an answer.

Try to solve a cryptic crossword with your friend; that will provide you with more ideas on how to approach it. You can also attempt to make one yourself! Once you know how to make those puzzles yourself, it will be much easier to know what to look for.

Sometimes the definition can be hidden in the clue, just pay attention to the parts of all the words or how they connect with each other. The crossword setters also love to reverse the solution, so if everything leads you to a word which doesn’t seem right, just try to read it backwards.


In other cases, it can be helpful to read the clue or what it leads to aloud as they may sound similar to the solution.

In other cases

It can be helpful to read the clue or what it leads to aloud as they may sound similar to the solution.

Punctuation plays an important role in the clues, but mostly for misleading you or breaking the phrase into false hints. Therefore, ignore it, along with capitalization. And the final advice is to pay attention to the grammar. Most of the time it will not have any particular meaning, but sometimes the setter will be trying to hint you at the grammatical form of the crossword answers.

Those are the basic rules on solving the cryptic crosswords so go ahead and try to use them on some free crosswords. Don’t despair too soon if you can’t solve it; it may happen that you can actually use the crossword solver for these puzzles. For example, you have managed to figure out the beginning of the word, now you can get the list of all words that start with x and, knowing the length of the answer, that will significantly narrow possible options. Sure, that still will require some brainwork from you, but you can always find books with more tips from professional puzzle setters and solvers.