tools and articles for letters and words

do you have a clue?

How Do I Solve This Cruel Crossword Clue?

created on by  in Word trivia

This is indeed a question that moves me every weekend. It is then that I have time to do the crosswords in different magazines and newspapers and to allow tricky crossword clues to challenge my brain. Can you tell at first glance what is meant by the terms “Nearly kill intimate circle” or “Parker loses a bed”?

Three Simple Steps for Solving a Crossword Clue

Even though our Crossword Solver can help quickly, there are some simple steps you can take to solve the crossword clue alone.

The solution is in front of you!

At first you have to know that the solution is written right in front of you. A crossword clue or a so-called cryptic clue is composed of three easy-peasy parts: First there is the precise definition and second a fair subsidiary indicator. This second one may come in the form of a word play. And the third: there isn`t a third part!

Often the reader makes the mistake of reading the whole clue as one phrase. But in fact you can find the definition at the start or the end of a clue.

Exceptions for the parts of a crossword clue

But pay attention! There are exceptions!

Some clues can be composed of two definitions for the same answer. There will be no word play in these cases. But there are words used that have different meanings.

And a so-called pure cryptic clue is an exception: The whole sentence is a cryptic definition that expresses the humor of the creator of the crossword. Such a clue is often denoted with a question mark at the end of the sentence. So you have to think outside the box!

In all of the other crossword clue varieties, you can find the answer by figuring out the word play.

But let us take a look at the different kinds of crossword clues.

Different Kinds of Crossword Clues and Their Indicators

Charade Clues

These are formed by combining individual letters. Link statements can be “with”, “follows” or “behind” and “after”.


Some words or letters are nested inside other words. Indicators for this type of crossword clue are “within”, “in”, “around”, “about”, “contained”, “held”, “inside” and so on…


Anagrams are the best-known form of clue. Indicators could be, for example, the words “transfer”, “switch”, “cook”, “kill” or “turned out”  


The answer sounds nearly the same as the clue. Indicators in the clue could be “heard”, “sounds like” or “noisily” and “spoken”


Palindromes are words, word groups, or even sentences that may be read the same way in either direction. Nonetheless, these words do not necessarily need to make sense. Only the letter sequence is important. Words of indication could be “either way”, “going side to side” or “read both ways”.

Hidden clues

The word you are searching for is hidden in the letters of the word play. Indicators for this kind of crossword clue could be, for example, “in part”, “partially in within”, “hides conceals some” or “held by”.


Here you have to take letters out of the clue in order to find the solution. Indicators could be “looses”, “curtailed” or “dropped”.

Combination Clues

These are crossword clues with more than one type of word play and they are extremely common!

Tags: ,

More like this
Our Top Five Crossword Clues and the Right Solutions
Anagrams as a Play with Letters – Anagram Solver as Part of Literary Play
The Word of the Year from UK, Australia and the United States

image sources