Login:

Password:





Not yet joined our word puzzle community? Then REGISTER NOW >>>
Who's online? | Login | Leaderboard | Anagrams

Code Puzzles And Letter Frequencies

If you are interested in tackling the codewords on Wordy Puzzle, but are not sure how to get going with the puzzles, then here is one of many tactics you can use to help you crack open the puzzle: letter frequencies.

You will no doubt know that some letters appear a lot more often in English than other letters. Trivially you can see just by reading this page that the letter E appears a lot more times than the letter Q.

So how can you use this to help you solve codewords? Well, the way that many people start solving codewords, when the E isn't given, is by trying to work out which number represents the E. The best way to do this is to look at which number appears the most times in the codeword puzzle - and this is often, although of course not always, the E.

For those who play games such as Scrabble, you'll know that some letters have a higher score than others - this is because they are harder to play, and the reason they are harder to play is because they appear in less words - they have a lower occurrence frequency in English.

So what are the overall frequencies of letters in English? One way to find this out is to take a large amount of text from a variety of sources in English, and then simply count how many times each letter occurs. Of course, over time some letters may come in and out of fashion, and it may also vary depending on which version of English you look at: most people in England use -ise and -ising forms of words, whereas in the US it might be -ize and -izing, making 'z' more frequent than in British English.

As a guide to the overall letter frequencies, here is a list of them, with the most common letter (E) in pole position - NB some positions may vary a little depending on what your sample source is and how many words it contains, but generally this is directionally correct:

E, T, A, O, I, N, S, R, H, D, L, U, C, M, F, Y, W, G, P, B, V, K, X, Q, J, Z.

If you can work out where the 'E' is in a codeword, then often that is all you need to break the back of the puzzle and to solve it. This is why codewords where the E is given - and more generally a vowel - are often a little easier than those where they are not given, or where there are of course less given letters at the start of the puzzle.
Date written: 17 Mar 2015



Comment on this post

You must be logged in to comment - please Register or Login

Other Blog Posts You Might Find Interesting...

Deconstructing Cryptic Crossword Clues
In order to solve a cryptic crossword, you need to be able to break the clue down into its separate parts. In most cases, this requires successful analysis as to which part of the clue is the straight definition, and which is the cryptic part. Then...
Added: 22 Apr 2015


Cryptic Definition Clues In Cryptic Crosswords
One of the rarer clue types to be encountered when solving cryptic crosswords is called the "cryptic definition". How does this vary from the other clue types, and what does it mean? Well, it varies from them in this very important way: there is...
Added: 12 Apr 2015


Become A Cryptic Crossword Writer
Are you interested in crosswords, and would like to become a crossword author? Then this could be your chance to get your puzzles published on our expanding website! We are currently looking for some new, talented crossword writers to create puzzles...
Added: 15 May 2015


Cryptic Clues That Refer To Other Clues
Clues that refer to other clues in the grid are quite common when solving cryptic crosswords, and also occasionally appear in quick crosswords, although less often. In the latter case the referencing is usually quite straightforward, such as simply an...
Added: 20 Apr 2015


What Is A Nina?
Well, the first thing to say about Nina, is that it is a name. But in the context of crosswords, it means something quite different indeed. A nina virtually always only appears in cryptic crosswords, and some authors are well-known for including them...
Added: 05 Apr 2015




Back to Puzzle Blog


Puzzle Types:
Arrow word Puzzles
Pangram Puzzles
General Knowledge Crosswords
Quick Crosswords
Wordwheels
Word Ladders
Word Fit
Skeleton Crosswords
A to Z Puzzles
Codewords
Cryprograms Online
Every Letter Counts