Summary: Cryptic crosswords are hard to solve as against a simple crossword puzzle and
here are some tips to solve them.
It is true that cryptic crosswords will look hard and vague at the first site. But, with some
fundamental directions and with lots of practice, these puzzles can turn out to be interesting
and rewarding without any doubt whatsoever. These puzzles are different from
straightforward puzzles that are published in newspapers. The reason is that the clues in a
cryptic crossword puzzle will not have any literal meaning, but the clues will give hints on
how the answer can be formed.
An example for Cryptic crossword clue:
For instance, here is a clue that was found in a Cryptic Crossword ‘small lake has unique
start, providing money’. This clue was given as a five letter word and for most of us reading
this clue does not give any real insight into the answer. But, an experienced solver of
Cryptic Crossword can rightly identify that the answer for this clue is ‘Pound’. This means
that pond is a small lake and it is stated that it has a unique start ‘U’ in it, thereby
producing the currency of British called as Pound. Here are some tips on how to solve a
cryptic crossword puzzle:
Understand the anatomy of the cryptic clue:
A good clue in this type of puzzle will have part like a precise description of the meaning
and a rational secondary indicator. The description portion will be similar to that of a
Ignore the surface reading:
Just read the clue as if you are not involved in solving the crossword. The reason is that
when you look the clues in the perspective of solving it, it will deliberately mislead you.
Analyze the clue into the description and the rational secondary
The meaning will generally come as the beginning or as the end of the clue. There are
chances that the connecting verb will disconnect the meaning from the secondary indicator.
The cryptic portion of the clue will most probably have instructional words that showcase
the meaning of the cryptic transformations that you should do.
Type of cryptic clues:
Here are some of the types of cryptic clues that you should be aware of, such that solving
them will become easier for you:
These clues will be generally short, such that you can easily identify and analyze them. A
double definition is something that gives two meanings for the same word.
An anagram clue is something that constitutes an anagram indicator and also an anagram
fodder. The former is something that recommends mingling, damage or repair. These are
generally the simplest clues to begin solving a cryptic crossword. Search for words in the
clue that indicate an anagram. For instance, scrambled words are easy to identify. If you
are lucky enough, this initial slowdown will help you in finding a couple of words to fill in.
This is yet another simple type of clue and under this category of clue you will find answers
hidden inside words. For instance, In Fargo, rig amidst papercraft, which is stated to be a
seven letter word, you can easily find the answer hidden inside this clue called ‘origami’.
Charade type clues:
Most clues in cryptic crossword will come under charade type, which means that you can
arrive at the solution by bringing together parts that are showed by different words in the
clue. As compared to other types of clues, the charade type will be longer in nature.
As the name of these clues denote, you can arrive at the answer by removing some letters
from the longer words. For example, a clue is given as ‘took action against, free of blemish
and kept up’ as a four letter word. The answer for this clue is sued and here kept up
denotes sustained and blemish is something that denotes stain. ‘Free of’ means remove
stain from sustained, so that you can get the answer as sued.
This means words with similar sound and you can arrive at the answer only with the help of
sound and not with the spelling in this type of clue. For instance, for a clue that reads ‘dying
sounds of a cowboy or rancher, which is an eight letter word, the answer is ‘withered’.
Cowboy denotes a man with herd and the term ‘sounds’ denote that the clue will not work
as a spelling and only as spoken.
Here, in this type of clue, the answer is pronounced by the initial letters of words.
You can arrive at the answer for some clues by reversing some letters. For instance, the
designer went up to get the reward and the answer for this clue with six letter answer is
Drawer as the term ‘reward’ is reversed.
This is where the answer will be same when read from both sides (i.e.) from left to right and
vice versa. For instance, advance in either direction and the number of letters is 3, 2. So the
answer will be put up.
You can take either the odd or even letters of the clue to arrive at the solution. For instance,
watch odd characters in a scene and the solution is ‘SEE”, which is a three letter word by
taking odd letters from the term ‘scene’.
The first thing you will have to remember is that cryptic clues will not include information
that are irrelevant to the answer and this is just a myth prevailing. For instance, when you
find some names in the clues, there will be some connection to the name and the answer
and you can arrive at the answer when you carefully watch it.
Do not forget to have a look at the number of letters given in brackets at the end of the
clues as this number will help you in shortlisting the words coming in your mind. As a final
word, think of the clue in different perspectives to arrive at the right solution for each clue.