What Is A Pangram?
A tangram is something lots of kids do at school whereby you start with various shapes of paper and must build things from them, working out how the pieces are put together in order to make each particular shape.
Whereas a tangram is to do with shapes, a pangram is to do with words, pure and simple. A pangram often refers to a sentence with a peculiar and interesting property: that is, it contains each and every letter of the alphabet exactly once. Many of us learn pangrams at school or at least the most famous one, but without knowing what it is actually called.
If you hear the sentence: A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, then you probably know that this sentence contains every letter from A-Z at least once, but you might not know that it is called a pangram.
Now that you know what a pangram is, then it is not hard to work out what a pangram crossword is: it is a puzzle that contains every letter from A-Z exactly once, and this of course is a property that it shares with a codeword. Every codeword is a pangram, whilst my no means every crossword is, apart from every pangram.
In fact, pangrams are surprisingly uncommon in English crosswords, due to the fact that letter frequencies mean that it is very rare for all the uncommon letters to occur naturally in one grid: many times you could solve a quick crossword in a publication for a whole year without finding a pangram.
Occasionally they appear in cryptic crosswords, where the setter deliberately creates a pangram. If solvers spot what they think is a pangram, then it can help them solve it, as it puts them on the lookout for unusual letters in words, which could make the puzzle slightly easier to solve: if they don't spot it, and many even think to look for it, then they are at no major disadvantage and can still solve the puzzle quite happily.
Date written: 06 Apr 2015
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