In wandering through the world of crosswords you may have come across puzzles called cryptic crosswords. And they certainly are just that — completely cryptic and incomprehensible! Instead of a regular 'synonym' clue that you'd find in any self-respecting normal crossword (such as: Nocturnal mammal (6) - the answer to which might be BADGER, POSSUM, COYOTE, JAGUAR, or OCELOT or ...), you are presented with totally ridiculous clues like Dogs going back in big rocket (5) or Writer's enclosure (3)!
Cryptic crosswords are a variation on 'regular' crosswords, where each clue is a mini wordplay puzzle. Once you've 'cracked the code' on how to read them, they are wonderful fun to solve, and a stimulating mental workout. They're my favourite puzzle to solve, and to write (so much more interesting than just writing definition/synonym clues!).
Crosswords were invented by Arthur Wynne in 1913 — a Brit living in America. His invention rapidly grew in popularity, and leap across the oceans to the UK. In Britain, various literary types started playing around with how the clues were written, and over time, the cryptic crossword was born. As a result of this lineage, they tend to be more popular in Commonwealth countries, and are not widely known in the United States.
And the answer to those two cryptic clues above?
Dogs going up in big rocket (5) = CORGI
The letters of CORGI are actually right there for all to see, backwards ('going back') in the clue. I've highlighted them in bold.
Writer's enclosure (3) = PEN
This is a double definition clue, a writer is a PEN (a pen writes, so it's a writer, I know, it's a bit of a stretch ...), and an enclosure can also be called a PEN.
Now, wasn't that fun? Oh come on ... maybe a little bit fun?
Some of my cryptics to try out
I'll be posting more stuff about cryptics in the near future.