Login:

Password:





Who's online? | Login | Leaderboard | Anagrams

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 in many of their puzzles, whilst others rarely do. Still, most cryptic crosswords are not ninas, and the majority of solvers don't spot them even when they do occur.

So what exactly is a nina? It is when a series of letters spell out a hidden message. Quite often this could be the letters around the outside of the grid in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction, or alternatively perhaps the letters in a certain row or column of the puzzle, when read out, give you a secret message.

So where does nina come from, and what does it stand for? Well apparently it is actually from a person's name and not an acronym: according to wikipedia it comes from a cartoonist called Al Hirschfeld who used the name of daughter Nina in his cartoons and hid it in each of them. Therefore this idea of a hidden message came to be known naturally enough as a nina.

It is not known who the first person to introduce a nina to a crossword was, but it caught on, although modestly.

A nina is not announced with the puzzle so it is up to the solver to find it, and as with a pangram the key is that you don't need to know the nina is there, but it can help you solve the puzzle if you spot it. For instance if you can see a message occurring in certain letters of the grid, then you can write in the rest of the message if you can anticipate what it is in the other squares, which clearly gives you a solving advantage.

In most instances, the nina is only spotted once you finish the puzzle. Like most things in life, once it is pointed out it is obvious, but spotting it in the first place - well that is something else entirely!

At time of writing none of the crosswords on Wordy Puzzle have ninas hidden in them, but you never know we might add them at some point. In the meantime why not look out for them in crosswords you solve in the main newspapers - they can not only cause a chuckle when you find them but help you admire the ingenuity of the setter too.


Date written: 05 Apr 2015



Comment on this post

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

Other Blog Posts You Might Find Interesting...

Why Are Crosswords So Popular?
One question that is often asked is why are crosswords so popular? The same question is also applied to the other famous word puzzle, the wordsearch, and also to the relative newcomer on the block in the world of logic puzzles (not number puzzles!) - the...
Added: 08 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


What Makes A Valid Crossword Grid?
What constitutes a valid crossword grid varies from country to country. Here we focus on what counts as a valid grid in the UK. - Firstly, the grid dimensions should be odd, eg 13 x 13 or 15 x 15; these are the two most common grid sizes. In the vast...
Added: 07 Apr 2015


All About Word Ladder Puzzles
The word ladder puzzle comes in two main versions. The first version of the puzzle lists clues alongside it, whilst the second version is open-ended with no clues alongside each rung of the ladder, and therefore is both more difficult to solve and may...
Added: 16 Mar 2015


Introduction To Wordwheel Puzzles
Word wheel puzzles are one of the simplest of all word puzzles, and belong to the set of word puzzles that are, essentially, anagrams. If you have ever played the game Countdown, then you will know the aim is to find the single longest word you can...
Added: 25 Mar 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