The Language of Crossword Puzzles

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Many people have reported that it takes a very specialized set of knowledge to do crossword puzzles effectively. People who do crossword puzzles on a regular basis do indeed develop a very specific vocabulary and they do improve their knowledge bases in a very odd way. People will tend to broaden their knowledge of synonyms for words, for instance. Many crossword puzzle clues will ask for synonyms for words, and they will usually be the sort of obscure synonyms that people would rarely use in that situation. The goal is to genuinely make people grope for the answer, and not simply toss one out on the spot.

Many of the clues with crossword puzzles are very suggestive rather than declarative. They will indicate the word that is required in very vague terms. For instance, one clue might be the word ‘type.’ This could refer to the verb ‘to type’ or it could mean ‘type’ as in ‘category.’ People won’t necessarily know unless they have completed enough of the puzzle to have an idea of which letters should belong in this space.

Tiny words understandably show up a lot in crossword puzzles. There need to be some bridge words in these big and clunky puzzles. People’s knowledge of very brief words is going to improve rapidly if they start doing crossword puzzles. What’s more, it’s more or less going to have to improve if they want to actually get good at doing these kinds of crossword puzzles. A detailed and extensive vocabulary is important for crosswords, but they tend to build one’s vocabulary in a very specific way.

Some of the clues that people will receive in crossword puzzles will seem obvious in retrospect, but they might seem nonsensical at first. They were deliberately designed to be somewhat opaque, and indeed, many crossword puzzles have clues that seem bizarre. A clue like ‘blasting letters’ isn’t going to be terribly obvious to a lot of people. However, the revelation that the answer is ‘TNT’ suddenly makes everything fall into place. In this case, the most important part of the clue was the word ‘letters’ because it indicated that the word in question was supposed to basically be an abbreviation. The ‘blasting’ adjective will allow crossword puzzle solvers to figure out what type of abbreviation they should be searching for and in which category.

The clue could have just been written in a way to acknowledge that it was referring to an abbreviation, but that would have made the clue significantly less challenging. However, seasoned crossword puzzle solves will be more than used to seeing clues that are like that, so they will know what ‘letters’ is likely to mean in this particular context. As such, the clue is actually going to be fairly intuitive to them because they have enough experience with the language of crossword puzzles.

One of the good things about crossword puzzles is that there tends to be a great deal of overlap in the words that get chosen for the sake of completing the puzzles. Many people who habitually do crossword puzzles will find themselves recognizing certain clues and anticipating the usage of certain words, much in the same way that a person who is learning a new language will slowly start to think in that language and perceive things in that language. Some of language learning is about memory. The people who achieve a degree of familiarity with crossword puzzles aren’t going to have to go through the motions of agonizing over each and every single clue every time. Achieving that level of proficiency is certainly something to look forward to for anyone that’s interested in practicing almost any hobby.