How filing crosswords can help you relax?

An old man filing a crossword.

Relax and learn with crosswords

Milions of persons regularly do crossword puzzles.

Are you one of them?

If not, perhaps you have been missing something, for crosswords can help you learn while you relax.

When you endeavor to solve crossword puzzles, you will no doubt find that your vocabulary, as well as your appreciation for the shades of meaning of words, increases.

As a result, everyday reading and conversation can become more enjoyable.

Also, many interesting and useful facts will come to light when, on occasion, you have to do research to find the correct answers.

This can be absorbing.

So working on a crossword, even for a short time, can provide a refreshing change of activity.

How crosswords began?

Picture of a crossword.

Crosswords are not altogether new.

About 100 years ago one was discovered, scratched into a fragment of wall plaster, during the excavations of the 2,000-year-old Roman city of Corinium, in Gloucestershire, England.

But their development in England as word puzzles dates to about the middle of the last century.

Soon they were printed in children’s books and various periodicals.

However, it was not until this popular pastime migrated to America that the puzzle developed into a serious adult diversion.

The first modern crossword was published on December 21, 1913, in Fun, the Sunday supplement of the New York World.

Although this puzzle was presented as just one of a varied group of mental exercises, it quickly caught the public’s fancy.

Since then, crosswords have spread into all countries.

They have been compiled in nearly all languages.

Today countless millions of people have learned to relax and learn with their favorite crossword.

Types of Crossword Clues

A man filing a crossword.

In order to solve a crossword puzzle, you need to know something about the kinds of clues that may be employed.

They can be divided under five main group headings.

First of all, there are the straightforward DIRECT clues, with no hidden meanings.

These clues can sometimes be single-worded, seeking a synonym (a word with a similar meaning).

For example, “RAPID” [4] will probably call for the answer “Fast.”

(Where used, the figure in brackets signifies the number of letters in the answer.)

If, however, the single-word clue itself has more than one meaning, finding the correct answer will not be so easy.

For instance, the clue “FLEET” [6] could suggest either “Nimble” or “Armada.”

The correct word, of course, is determined by the interlocking letters of the crossword itself.

Sometimes an entire phrase is given as a clue, as in: “Popularly known as the ‘Sunflower State.’” [6]

The answer is “Kansas.”

A PALINDROME, sometimes called a ‘sotadic’ after a Thracian, Sotades, of the third century B.C.E., is a word or phrase that can be read the same backward as forward.

Some examples are: Mum (or Mom), Dad, Eve, Hannah, deified, rotator, kayak and level.

Turning of a word back to front, not to form the same word (as in the case of a palindrome), but a completely different word, is known as a REVERSAL.

Not many words in fact have this strange characteristic, but here are a few:

Zeus [Suez]; Enid [Dine]; War [Raw]; Reviled [Deliver]; Flog [Golf]; Repel [Leper]; Snug [Guns]; Stressed [Desserts]; Smart [Trams]; Yard [Dray]; Stop [Pots].

By rearranging the letters of a word or phrase to form another word or phrase, we have what is termed an ANAGRAM.

There are thousands of words that in themselves prove to be one-word anagrams.

To illustrate: TESTAMENT - Statement; EDUCATION - Auctioned, Cautioned; TIREDNESS - Residents, Dissenter; ARGENTINE - Tangerine; ONTARIO - Oration; PERSIA - Praise, Aspire.

A unique anagram involving two words is “the classroom,” which (by readjusting the letters of the two words) can be read as “schoolmaster.”

If a crossword compiler desired to do so, he could clue this word for his readers with what is termed a CRYPTIC clue.

For instance: “He might well make changes in the classroom. [12]”

As you will observe, this cryptic clue guides the solver toward the solution, although the answer (“schoolmaster”) does not readily present itself.

There are in fact many different kinds of cryptic clues and they are not all easy to solve.

Yet, in some English-speaking countries, they are often more popular than the simple, direct type of clue.

Cryptic clues can be used with palindromes, anagrams, spelling puns, spoken puns, charades and reversals.


Crosswords can, of course, be slanted toward a particular interest, or compiled with a specific subject in mind.

When you look up those texts you may find other information that interests you even more than the word that you were seeking.

Take time to enjoy it.

After all, crosswords are meant to be, not only mentally stimulating, but also instructive and enjoyable.

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