Login:

Password:





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

Cryptic Crosswords And Common Abbreviations

When learning to solve cryptic crosswords, you will encounter many abbreviations, some of these will be obvious, whilst others you will just learn over time, if you don't know them initially.

Obvious ones include compass points, such as east = E and New York = NY, and 'kiss' being 'X'. whilst others will be a bit trickier. Often these just involve taking the first letter, such that 'Wife' in the clue might just mean take the letter 'W', or 'special' in the clue just contributes an 'S'.

Note that these are different to clues such as 'special initially' that specifically tells you to take the first letter, here 'S'.

Another common abbreviation is 'about' turning to 'c' for 'circa', or perhaps 'ca' (and of course 're'), whilst 'for example' often leads to 'eg'. You will sometimes find states of the US used where the setter wants you to use the common abbreviation for that state, like the example of New York above, but many state abbreviations may not be readily familiar to you, so you'll need to gen up on those.

If you encounter 'The City' then it might be asking you to enter 'EC' as in the City of London post code; 'city' on its own could just refer to somewhere like LA. A ship is often 'SS' and a sailor might be 'AB' (able seaman, don't you know). Sometimes these are a bit more intuitive but still tricky, like 'spectacles' referring to 'OO' as in the shape of a pair of glasses for instance.

So, when solving cryptics, what is the best way to tackle these abbreviation clues? Well, sometimes you just have to learn them, however generally you will just get a feel for them over time, and can always look them up in some of the exhaustive charts online that contain very common abbreviations. And, as ever, the more you know in terms of general knowledge, the easier you will find them to solve and/or learn - for instance if you play chess, then you will already know that 'knight' can be the letter 'N' as well as the more intuitive 'K', because knight is represented by the letter 'N' in chess notation - in order to distinguish it from the 'King' that is the letter 'K', if you were wondering!

Some words can refer to more than one abbreviation, thus 'queen' could be 'Q', 'Qu', 'R' or 'ER' (the last of these for the current queen, Elizabeth Regina (Latin for 'the ruling queen')). Church can be 'CE' or 'CH', the former being Church of England.

One of the least useful is note, since this refers to any letter from A to G that form the musical scale, so can be quite tricky to extract useful information from in isolation from the rest of the clue. The word 'key' generally could also be A to G, so is equally one to be wary of.

Date written: 19 Apr 2015



Comment on this post

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

Other Blog Posts You Might Find Interesting...

Using Our Online Puzzle Solving Tools
We have online player tools for a large range of different word puzzles. These include arrow words, pangrams, general knowledge crosswords, quick crosswords, wordwheels, word ladders, word fit, skeleton crosswords, A - Z puzzles, codewords, cryptograms...
Added: 26 Apr 2015


100 Hat Riddle Interview Question Solution
A riddle or lateral thinking puzzle that has existed in a variety of guises for a long period of time has recently been featured in the news, both because it is initially baffling but also because there have been reports of some companies using this...
Added: 25 Feb 2016


Solving US Crosswords As A Brit
British solvers who venture across a US crossword, perhaps when on holiday, will notice that it is a very different beast. The main difference you'll notice is that there are so many more clues and answers in a grid of a given size, and that answers...
Added: 14 Jun 2015


The Differences Between US And UK Crossword Grids
British and US crossword grids are very different. This is not something you might expect to be the case, but any puzzle lover who visits the other country soon realises that they are very different beasts. It starts very much with the grid. With US...
Added: 27 Apr 2015


Solving Aids And Solving Crossword Clues
When it comes to solving crosswords, where do you stand on the debate with regard to using solving aids? Some people think that there is something "wrong" with using solving aids - in the very particular sense that it is a form of cheating, whilst for...
Added: 30 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