Crosswords and Clue Types

Part of the joy of doing different sorts of crosswords is the range of clues you have to tackle. Here at Teazel we have three distinct crossword styles: Crossword US, Cryptic and 'Plain' / Casual.

Crossword US is a crossword game featuring a New York Times style grid with no 'hanging' letters. Every letter always has two clues (across and down) and is completely interconnected. The clue styles can be simple or double clues - see examples below. Due to the grid design you do tend to get a lot of short words which aren't in frequent use, but you can always rely on having two clues to help solve the individual letters.

Crossword is like the US crossword clue style but does feature 'hanging' letters, and is more representative of UK newspaper crosswords. This allows us to use more interesting words as there isn't a requirement to intersect with so many other words. The clue style is all very 'literal' and doesn't include any tricks.

Cryptic Crossword grid design is the same as the plain crossword with hanging letters, but the clues are designed to be more challenging. Cryptic clues are typically comprised of a "straight" clue and a "cryptic" clue within the same clue. The idea is to make the player feel confident in thier answer because both clues have been solved. The tricky part is working out which bit of the clue is the straight clue, and which is the cryptic.

We like cryptic puzzles so here are some examples to try and highlight the joy within each clue:

Inserted Russian leader (5)

here we are actually getting two clues combined - "Inserted" could be "PUTIN" and "Russian Leader" is as well. Also potenitally is there a political commertary going on. The fun of cryptic clues is that clue carries more than just an question needing an answer.

Another example:

Controversial novelist with a hurry to snuff it! (7)

Here the clue has two parts "Controversial novelist" and "hurry to snuff it". We know it is a controversial novelist "hurry to snuff it" is involved - which gives us "RUSHDIE" - or "Rush Die"

Below is our general description of the main crossword clue types.

Crosswords Clue Types

There are several types of crossword clues. These include:

Simple clues:

Not very interesting but very easy.
'Feline pet' (3) = CAT

Double Clues

A bit more complicated than simple ones. These put together two ideas to hide the word(s).
'Driving through a watery road' (4) = FORD


These rearrange the letters in the clue to give the answer. You often get a hint that its an anagram with words like 'confused', 'broken', 'arrange', 'upset(s)' or 'muddled' being used, sometimes with the direct hint '(Anag.)'. 'Arrange a trunk call to the panel' (8) = ELEPHANT


These use a play on words where a double meaning is involved.
'Cost of not sitting' (8,6) = STANDING CHARGE. This type of clue can be very complicated.

Sound Clues

These often use phrases such as 'sounds like' or 'we hear' The answer is found by thinking about how the clue's words sound. The answer may be straightforward or rely on a pun.
'The king has no successor, we hear' (4) = BALD (No heir = No hair)

Hidden Words

These clues take letters or parts of words to build up the answer.
'I see eager soldiers implement a new formation' (8) = REGIMENT

Crossword Jargon

(Anag.), 'broken', 'confused' or 'muddled' are obvious hints of an anagram, but there is other jargon.

Numbers often refer to their Roman equivalents, V=5, X=10, L=50, C=100, D=500 and M=1000.

The sporting connection for 'love' or 'a duck' will give 'O'. 'North', 'South' etc. can signify 'N', 'S', etc. and are used with other jargon such as 'in' or 'embraces', see below.

Many abbreviations are common: 'quiet(ly)' or 'soft(ly)' = 'p' from the music term piano, similarly 'loud(ly)' or 'strong(ly)' = 'f' from forte.

Words such as 'embraces', 'surrounds' or 'in' suggest that a one part of the clue or even a single letter is taken and put in between other letters. 'The Parliamentarian surrounds a duck' (3) = 'MOP'.

The words 'in' and 'about' are used in different ways. 'In' can mean that the answer is hidden in the clue,
'A long time in a dungeon' (3) = EON or it can be used to simply make the clue read better.

'About' can be used to show that one word will be split and put around another.
'Smells writing in the bee's attack' (8) = STINKING. Or 'about' can just be used to make the clue read better.

There are many frequently used abbreviations used to help build up words. Some of these include 'Navy' = RN, 'Engineers' = RE, 'Conservative' = C, 'Doctor' = DR or GP, 'Resistance' = OHMS = On Her Majesty's Service, 'Current' = AMP, and so on. The use of a proper noun or name may signal that an abbreviation is called for.