But what is a Crossword? Terminologies and Types

Crossword Puzzles

A crossword is a puzzle with overlapping answer words. Hence the name Cross Words, they cross each other horizontally and vertically.
The first published crossword puzzle was created by a British-born Journalist called Arthur Wynne on  Dec 21, 1913 and it was published on the Sunday Newspaper New York World. The first puzzle had a diamond shape. Wynne is the credited as the inventor of the popular word game.

The puzzle it’s made by a Constructor and solved by a Solver both of these people are called Cruciverbalists. Each answer has it’s own distinct Clue.

The Grid

The grid is a combination of Columns, Rows and Black Squares.

Now, the grid is usually square like this:

but that is not always the case.

Black Squares

Now back to Black Squares

They can be arranged in fingers of two or more, that are perpendicular to and touching the perimeter of the Grid.

They can also be arranged as UTAHs


Black Squares that don’t divide a row or column like so:

are called cheater squares.

Grid Symmetry

Grid symetry refers to the convention that black boxes be arranged in a symmetrical pattern in the grid. The most common arrangement is 180 Degree rotational symmetry

so the grid would look just the same, if you turned it upside down.

Mirror Symmetry

Mirror symmetry refers to an arrangement of black boxes that is symmetrical across the middle column.


Minion Puzzles

Also called Entry.

Get filled in answer Slots also known as Words. If you add up all the answer words, both down and across, you will get the total word count of the crossword.

A clarification must be made however. Even if a slot contains an answer, that itself is made up by multiple words, that answer slow still only counts as one word in the crossword’s word count .

The point where two crosswords intersect is called a crossing.A crossing where most folks are unlikely to know any of the intersecting answers, is called a Bad Crossing.

A bad crossing is also called a Natick.

Unchecked Box

If a box only appears in one answer is called an Unchecked Box

Crossword Theme

Most crosswords tend to have a theme. That is an Idea, Motif or Gimmick, that some of the answers have in common. Answers that are part of the theme are called theme answers or just Themers.
Sometimes one of the theme answers explicitly describes what the theme is, thats called a Revealer.


A theme that asks you to write multiple letters in one box is called a Rebus.



Answers in a themed puzzle that aren’t part of of the theme are called a Fill. Fill answers that very few people actually know or heard of are called Bad Fills.  Examples of bad fills include partial phrases like “ONME” (on me) and crosswordese “ECARD” (e-card).
Crosswordese refers to answer words that tend to show up a lot in crossword answers but rarely get used in daily life.

Dublicates or Dupes

Occur when two answers contain the same word or variations of the same word.

Crosswords that don’t include a theme are called Themeless Crosswords or simply Freestyle Crosswords