How to Solve Cryptic Crosswords?

Cryptic crosswords are a cool twist on your regular crossword game – they’re like the brainy cousin who always keeps you guessing at family reunions. These puzzles aren’t just about filling in blanks; they demand inventive thinking and a dash of creativity to crack their codes.

Imagine having to untangle anagrams, decode abbreviations or even decipher homophones! It’s no wonder that British and Commonwealth puzzle fans can’t get enough of these witty riddles.

Feeling brave? Why not give it a shot? Just remember: every clue is part of the larger picture, so don’t rush it – take each step one by one. And most importantly, have fun while you’re at it!

Ximenean principle

Before you start solving a puzzle, it’s necessary to understand the Ximenean principles. The Ximenean principles are the foundation for successful cryptic clue solving. To master them, you must break down each mystery into three main components: an exact definition, a ‘fair subsidiary indication’ and nothing else.

Beginners often make the mistake of interpreting the entire clue as one phrase – but this will rarely lead you to the solution. Instead, try to identify which parts are straight definitions and which involve wordplay. With some practice, you’ll be able to crack these tricky riddles like a pro.

Tips for Solving Cryptic Crosswords

Solving cryptic crosswords can be a challenge, but with practice and understanding of the common types of clues, it becomes easier. Here are some tips on solving cryptic crosswords:

  1. Understand the Clue Structure: Most cryptic clues consist of a definition part and a wordplay part. The definition usually appears at the start or end of the clue. The definition part of a clue can give you an idea as to what kind of answer it’s looking for, while the wordplay gives a hint on how to write it. For example, if there’s “Crowned heads at college” as the clue, then “king” is your answer (definition being “head”, and wordplay being “crowned”). Being able to identify these hints makes solving puzzles smoother sailing.
  2. Identify the Type of Clue: Common types include anagrams, charades (where words are pieced together), containers (where one word is put inside another), homophones, double definitions, and reversals. Recognizing these can help you solve the clue.
  3. Look for Indicator Words: These hints at what type of clue you’re dealing with. For example, “around” might indicate a container clue where one word wraps around another.
  4. Identify Anagrams: Look for words in clues that suggest change, transformation, or confusion. These often indicate anagrams. For example, “muddled“, “rearranged“, “broken” etc.
  5. Hidden Words: Sometimes, the answer is hidden within the clue itself. Look for phrases like “in part,” “partially,” or “in” which might indicate this.
  6. Start with Shorter Words: They are usually easier to solve because there are fewer possibilities to consider. Look for clues that have two or three letters in the answer and try to work out what they mean. Once you’ve mastered these, you can move on to longer words and more complex clues.
  7. Use Cross Letters: As in any crossword puzzle, filling in one answer will give you letters in others, which can provide helpful hints. These can be a great clue as to what type of answer is required for each word. For example, if you see the letter “T” appearing in three different words in the same row, then it’s reasonable to assume that all three answers will start with the letter “T”.
  8. Homophones: If you see words like ‘sounds’, ‘heard’, ‘listened to’ in a clue, it might be hinting towards a homophone, a word that sounds like another but has a different meaning.
  9. Charade Clues: Charade clues in cryptic crosswords are similar to the game of charades, where one person acts out each syllable or part of a word and the others guess what it is. In cryptic crosswords, instead of acting out, you piece together different parts or segments of words to form the answer.

For example, consider this clue: “A friend in France follows old city from Italy (7)“. Here, ‘a friend in France’ could be “AMI” (French for friend), ‘old city from Italy’ could be “ROMA” (Rome). When you follow “AMI” with “ROMA“, you get “AMIROMA“, which isn’t a word. But if you reverse them as indicated by ‘follows’, you get “ROMAMI“, which still isn’t correct. The trick here is to realize that ‘old city from Italy’ is actually referring to the ancient name for Rome – ROMA and when followed by AMI, it gives you “ROMAMI“.

  1. Double Definitions: Some clues have two definitions for the same word. This can be tricky as they may not necessarily relate to each other directly.
  2. Abbreviations: Get familiar with common abbreviations used in crosswords such as R (for Rex or Regina), N (for north), U (for university) etc.
  3. Practice Regularly: Like any skill, solving cryptic crosswords gets easier with practice as you become familiar with common clue patterns and indicator words.
  4. Don’t Be Afraid to Guess: If you think you have an answer but aren’t sure how it fits the clue, write it down anyway, it might help you solve other clues.
  5. Use Reference Materials: Dictionaries or online resources can be very helpful when trying to solve particularly tricky clues.
  6. Think Laterally: Cryptic crosswords often require you to think outside the box, so don’t be afraid to try unusual or creative interpretations of clues.

More Useful Tips

Cracking cryptic crosswords can be a fun and fulfilling challenge, but it takes some getting used to. To start off on the right foot, remember that definitions for clues usually come at the beginning or end of them, though double-definitions may require extra attention.

Ignore any punctuation – full stops, colons etc – they’re just there to confuse you. However, watch out for exclamation marks or question marks as these are likely indicators of a pun.

Also, don’t forget each word in the clue matters; grammar included! With patience and determination, your skills will soon improve and you’ll find yourself able to complete more without help.


Recent Crossword 911 Clues :

  1. Night birds
  2. Working-for-the-weekend letters
  3. — High Dam, structure on the River Nile formally inaugurated in 1971
  4. Woman gets answer through
  5. Saying
  6. Literal error
  7. Is refluent
  8. Lion's resting place
  9. Lacking refinement
  10. Asian language
  11. Confines
  12. Quiet pub found by a Conservative, 50, before European summit
  13. Put down stakes
  14. Enlist
  15. Hunter and prey together in aquarium