Difference Between Crossword and Cryptic Crossword

There are various types of wordplays that help in building concentration and provide relaxation to the mind. Wordplay riddles make the solvers happy, calm and can even be addictive. The most common type of wordplay is crossword. Crossword can be further divided into two main types, standard crossword and cryptic crossword.

Crossword vs Cryptic Crossword

The main difference between crossword and the cryptic crossword is that crossword is a word puzzle in an interlocking manner and is entered vertically or horizontally on the grid depending upon the clue while cryptic crossword is a crossword that involves wordplay and can have misleading definitions and clues.

Crossword and Cryptic Crossword

A standard crossword is a simple riddle that has the difficulty level set to easy to moderate in the wordplay. To solve the wordplay there are clues given that are related to the answers in a simple format.

On the other hand, Cryptic crossword is a complex and twisted riddle that has a difficulty level of moderate to high. Cryptic crosswords have a certain pattern and type in the hint which needs familiarity before, to solve faster.

Comparison Table Between Crossword and Cryptic Crossword

Parameters of Comparison CrosswordCryptic Crossword
Difficulty levelEasy to moderateModerate to hard
PurposeTo engage people in wordplay and enhance their interpretation skills To challenge the linguistic skills of the users and enhance the comprehension skills
Type of clues Simple and straight clues which are easy to interpret Difficult and complex clues which are tough to interpret
Requirements Require basic interpretation, analyzing comprehension skills Requires lateral thinking and analyzing words at a deeper level and beneath the surface
Popularity Standard crosswords are comparatively less demanding Cryptic crosswords are more demanding

What is Crossword?

Crossword is a puzzle that involves words that are aligned in a grid of square-shaped white and black shaded boxes. The goal of the game is to fill the white squares by writing words or phrases with letters. To determine the word there are various clues given that need to be solved to achieve the final answer. The presence of the shaded squares in the game is to separate the words and the phrases.

The presence of the answers is usually placed in the grid from left to right which is also termed as across and also in the form of talk to water which is also called down. There are various types of grids in a crossword like American style grid Australian or British style grid, Japanese style grid, Swedish style grid, or even Barred grid.

Some puzzles have shaded squares about one-sixth of the total space, like those found in North American newspapers and magazines. There are also crossword grids that have a 25% or higher percentage of shaded squares, like those found in grids of South Africa Britain, Australia, and India. This leaves most of the answers unchecked because there is no access to the first row with the second row.

In some places, the grid also has a rotation of 180-degree symmetry which is known as radial. this lets the pattern appear even if the paper is turned upside down. The convention in the capitalization of the letters in answers is generally ignored. The publication of the answer sheets is usually done in all caps.

What is Cryptic Crossword?

A cryptic crossword is a type of crossword puzzle. This type of word puzzle has every clue in puzzle form. The origin of cryptic crosswords was in the United Kingdom and gained popularisation. The first cryptic crossword was found in the mid-1920s. Cryptic crosswords are compiled by personnel who are known as “setters” or even “constructors”.

There are two main types of the cryptic crossword. They are the basic cryptic and the variety or themed cryptic. In the basic cryptic each clue answer can be entered in the puzzle normally. While in the variety of themes cryptic, the answers may require alteration before entering into the diagram. The alteration is by a specific rule or hidden pattern and needs to be Identified by the solver.

The clues in cryptic crosswords can include classical allusions, wordplay, anagrams incomplete quotations, and various other related topics. The first sector of cryptic rules was Torquemada. He Is also referred to as the inventor of the cryptic crossword. The credit for introducing cryptic crosswords to the American audience is given to composer Stephen Sondheim.

A clue of cryptic crossword has two parts that are the straight definition of the clue or the alternative route to the answer which is termed as cryptic. John Galbraith Graham popularly known as Araucaria is a popular setter for his witty and occasionally unorthodox clues. Most of the newspapers are found to contain both standard crosswords as well as cryptic crosswords in their issues.

Main Differences Between Crossword and Cryptic Crossword

  1. Crossword was first published in the year 1923 while cryptic crossword was first published in the mid-1920s.
  2. The clues of crossword can be taken at face value while the clues of cryptic crossword cannot be taken at face value.
  3. Crosswords can be solved quickly while cryptic crosswords required some time to tackle and solve.
  4. Crosswords are also known as “standard crosswords” or “definition crosswords” while cryptic crosswords are also known as “British crosswords”.
  5. To solve crosswords the users do not need to think and analyze at a deeper level while to solve cryptic crosswords the users need to look beneath the surface of the clue and evaluate at a deeper level to unfold the hidden meaning.


Standard crosswords and cryptic crosswords are the most common type of wordplays. Both the crosswords have a different time frame of origin. The difficulty level, type of hints, time taken to complete the riddle, and other features are different from each other.

Both the type of crossword puzzles provide satisfaction as well as confidence after being solved. They are beneficial in enhancing skills like problem-solving, reasoning, interpretation, and comprehension power. Both types of crosswords are addictive.


  1. https://arxiv.org/abs/2103.01242
  2. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00904/full
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