crossword puzzle

a puzzle in which words corresponding to numbered clues or definitions are supplied and fitted into correspondingly numbered sets of squares, one letter per square, the words being arranged horizontally or vertically so that most letters form part of two words.
[1910-15; CROSS- + WORD, allegedly for earlier word cross]

* * *

Puzzle in which words are filled into a pattern of numbered squares in answer to correspondingly numbered clues and in such a way that words can be read across and down.

The first crosswords, intended primarily for children, appeared in England in the 19th century. In the U.S., the puzzle developed into a popular adult pastime. By 1923, crosswords were being published in most of the leading U.S. newspapers, and the craze soon reached England. Today crosswords in various forms are found in almost every country and language.

* * *

      popular form of word puzzle. A crossword puzzle consists of a diagram, usually rectangular, divided into blank (white) and cancelled (black, shaded, or crosshatched) squares. This diagram is accompanied by two lists of numbered definitions or clues, one for the horizontal and the other for the vertical words, the numbers corresponding to identical numbers on the diagram. Into each of the blank squares of the diagram a certain letter of the alphabet is to be inserted, forming the words fitting the numbered definitions or clues. The words cross each other, or interlock, which gives the puzzle its name.

      The first crosswords appeared in England during the 19th century. They were of an elementary kind apparently derived from the word square, a group of words arranged so the letters read alike vertically and horizontally, and printed in children's puzzle books and various periodicals. In the United States, however, the puzzle developed into a serious adult pastime. The first modern crossword puzzle was published on Dec. 21, 1913, in the New York World's Sunday supplement, Fun. It appeared as only one of a varied group of mental exercises, but it struck the fancy of the public. By 1923, crosswords were being published in most of the leading American newspapers, and the craze soon reached England. Soon almost all daily newspapers in the United States and Great Britain had a crossword feature of some kind. The Sunday Times of London ran perhaps the best-known puzzle.

      Crosswords in various forms are found in almost every country and language. Scholars have even gone so far as to make them for Latin. Advocates claim the puzzles are both a pastime and an interesting means of improving the vocabulary. Though the majority of puzzles have the form of symmetrical patterns of shaded or blacked-out squares within a rectangle, there are many variations. These include: (1) an asymmetrical scattering of squares; (2) a plain diagram with no squares canceled and the ends of words marked simply by a thick line; (3) pictorial designs, either in outline containing the diagram or in line inside the diagram, or a combination of both; and (4) diagramless puzzles, with no squares cancelled and no word ends marked.

      The general type of crossword has also been subject to variation. Some puzzles employ abstruse definitions, puns, and anagrams. A number of words in one puzzle may bear upon some announced theme, such as music, sports, literature, or geography. Many of the puzzles in this category are quite difficult. Again, some clues will be omitted altogether but a direction given that the words thus neglected belong to a particular class: jewels, for example, or words in a quotation. Sometimes every word will have some given prefix, suffix, or part in common, and only the rest of the word will actually fill the spaces in the diagram: (rat)ion, (rat)chet, etc.; unc(tion), cap(tion), etc.; qu(it)e, cr(it)ic, etc. Lester Markel, Sunday editor of The New York Times, insisted that puzzles appearing in that paper contain words linked to the news. Harold T. Bers, an advertising writer and puzzle constructor, devised the internal-clue crossword, in which the theme of the puzzle emerges gradually as successive definitions are solved: filling in “pussyfoot,” “caterwaul,” “kittenish”—together with an overall title “catalog”—would reveal the feline theme.

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • crossword puzzle — crossword UK [ˈkrɒsˌwɜː(r)d] / US [ˈkrɔsˌwɜrd] or crossword puzzle UK / US noun [countable] Word forms crossword : singular crossword plural crosswords Word forms crossword puzzle : singular crossword puzzle plural crossword puzzles * a word game …   English dictionary

  • crossword puzzle — January 1914, from CROSS (Cf. cross) (adj.) + WORD (Cf. word) + PUZZLE (Cf. puzzle). The first one ran in the New York World newspaper Dec. 21, 1913, but was called word cross …   Etymology dictionary

  • crossword puzzle — ☆ crossword puzzle [krôs′wʉrd΄ ] n. an arrangement of numbered squares to be filled in with words, a letter to each square, so that a letter appearing in a word placed horizontally is usually also part of a word placed vertically: numbered… …   English World dictionary

  • Crossword Puzzle — For the common puzzle, see Crossword Crossword Puzzle Studio album by The Partridge Family …   Wikipedia

  • crossword puzzle — n. (esp. AE) to do, work (out) a crossword puzzle * * * work (out) a (esp. AE) to do …   Combinatory dictionary

  • crossword puzzle — puzzle which gives clues and players must find the right word to fit in the blank area …   English contemporary dictionary

  • crossword puzzle — noun a puzzle in which words corresponding to numbered clues are to be found and written in to squares in the puzzle • Syn: ↑crossword • Hypernyms: ↑puzzle …   Useful english dictionary

  • crossword puzzle — noun A crossword …   Wiktionary

  • crossword puzzle — cross′word puz zle [[t]ˈkrɔsˌwɜrd, ˈkrɒs [/t]] n. gam a puzzle in which words corresponding to numbered clues or definitions are fitted into a pattern of horizontal and vertical squares, one letter per square, so that most letters form parts of… …   From formal English to slang

  • ˈcrossword ˌpuzzle — noun [C] a word game in which the answers to questions are written in rows of squares that cross each other …   Dictionary for writing and speaking English

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.