Who Invented the Crossword?


Arthur Wynne is usually credited with inventing the crossword. His first puzzle, called a word-cross, was published in December 1913 in the New York World. But there may have been other predecessors to the crossword: in England in the 19th century and an Italian version called per

 passare il tempo, which means “to pass the time.”

Word crosses eventually became known as crosswords, and their creators became known as cruciverbalists. (They are also called constructors, setters, and compilers.) The word cruciverbalist comes from the Latin word crux, which means “cross,” and the word verbum, which means “word.” Crosswordese seems like a term that could refer to crossword terminology. But in fact, it is used to describe words that frequently appear in crossword puzzles, but are rarely used in daily life. Mead, which means “honey wine,” and etui, which means “a woman’s ornamental case,” are two examples of crosswordese. Oslo, the capital of Norway, is another.

Speaking of crossword terminology, the horizontal and vertical lines of white cells are called entries or answers. Lights is another word used to refer to the white cells.

Missed our interview with NPR Puzzlemaster Will Shortz? Here’s the first installment.


Daily News (Los Angeles, CA) February 28, 2000 Byline: Rich Hammond Staff Writer The Los Angeles Marathon, which has long sought to strike a balance between its block-party atmosphere and a desire for intense competition, returns to the streets Sunday, seemingly more popular than ever. go to web site 2000 honda accord

The marathon, now in its 15th year, is expected to topple last year’s record of 20,630 participants, even though a minuscule percentage of runners have a realistic chance of breaking the tape and taking home the first-place prize money.

The overall quality of the men’s field seems to be down from last year, based solely on the top times of the elite runners who have registered thus far. Only three runners have ever broken two hours, 10 minutes in a competitive marathon, a time that is considered good but far from great among elite runners.

One of the three sub-2:10 runners is Simon Bor, no doubt the sentimental favorite of race president Dr. William Burke. Last year, when Burke was desperate for somebody to break the 11-year-old course record of 2:10:19, Bor ran 2:09.:25, and the 31-year-old Kenyan returns to defend his title.

“And Simon tells me that he is ready to run a faster time this year,” Burke said.

If Bor stumbles, nearly a dozen of his countrymen will be ready to take up the challenge. As usual, Kenya dominates the list of male elite runners. This year’s race is being used as the Olympic trial for Guatemala, but a victory by anyone besides a Kenyan would be considered a major upset.

Four American men are seeded in the top 25 but none higher than No. 18 Daniel Gonzalez, a 31-year-old resident of Mountain View whose main goal is to beat 2:19 and qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials. Gonzalez’s top marathon time is 2:13:19, but that was 14 years ago in the California International Marathon.

Bor’s top challengers appear to be Peter Ndirangu and Elijah Korir.

Ndirangu and Bor share a personal-best time of 2:08.46, which Ndirangu accomplished with a third-place finish in the 1997 Chicago Marathon. Ndirangu, a member of the Kenyan Armed Forces, has never run in Los Angeles but won his most recent race, the Kenyan Armed Forces 30K last month.

Korir, who will turn 34 on March 13, is the oldest among elite runners but seems to be in his prime. He set his personal best of 2:09:43 with a victory in France’s Lyon Marathon last October.

The women’s race might feature an almost entirely new set of faces. Among elites already registered, only Aurica Buia of Romania (fourth place) returns from last year’s top 10 finishers.

Jane Salumae of Estonia, whose personal best of 2:27:04 would place her second on the marathon’s all-time list and beat last year’s winning women’s time by more than three minutes, has been installed as the top seed. Salumae, 32, trains in San Diego and earned her personal best with a victory in the 1997 Turin Marathon in Italy.

The first-place awards of $35,000 and a 2000 Honda Accord will await the winners of the elite races, but the vast majority of runners will simply hope for mild weather and the strength to accomplish their goal of finishing the race. go to website 2000 honda accord

The “common man” will have plenty of help along the way. The 26.2- mile course, unchanged from last year, will be lined by hundreds of thousands of spectators and there will be various community and ethnic celebrations.

The Marathon will also feature events for the noncompetitive athlete. The Acura Bike Tour, which drew more than 15,000 participants last year, starts and finishes near the Coliseum, and the Motrin 5K starts and finishes near the Convention Center and Staples Center.

AT A GLANCE What: Los Angeles Marathon XV When: Sunday Start: 8:45 a.m., Downtown L.A., corner of Figueroa and Sixth Street.

Finish: Downtown L.A., corner of Fifth Street and Flower, in front of Los Angeles Central Public Library.

Course records: Men, Simon Bor of Kenya, 2:09:25 (1999); Women, Madina Bitktagirova of C.I.S., 2:26:23 (1992) Prize: $35,000 and a 2000 Honda Accord to top man and woman Details: More than 21,000 runners are scheduled to compete in the 26.2- mile race. Bike Tour begins at 6 a.m. near Coliseum, and 5K walk/run begins at 9:30 a.m. near the Convention Center.


box Box: At a glance (see text)


  1. An Awesome Minecrafter With Awesome Minecrafting Friends -  January 8, 2014 - 2:52 am

    “Who Invented the Crossword?”

    Who cares?

    Three cheers for Cyberquill! Both his/her comment and his/her screen name.

    If you are a Minecrafter, skip a space at the end of your comment and put a big-grin face please. I can’t wait to see how many other Minecrafters there are in the Dictionary.com community!


    • I am Phenomenal -  November 5, 2015 - 6:51 am

      I am not a minecraft gamer but i love your enthusiasm lol :)

      • christibell -  November 13, 2015 - 1:05 pm


    • Aryana -  January 13, 2016 - 11:17 am

      I’m a minecrafter!!! Does anyone watch Ihascupquake or Skydoesminecraft?

    • Lisa -  February 1, 2016 - 3:27 pm

      Really shut up about Minecraft just shut up please

    • kjs -  November 13, 2016 - 6:40 pm

      I love minecraft. :) :(

  2. Anette -  December 24, 2013 - 8:50 pm

    @Francis – April 22, 2011 – 7:10 pm
    Could somebody please tell me why this is important?

    Because, to put it simply, some people find it interesting. I know I do.

    As for the arguments, we are human. I don’t think that gives us an excuse to be so belligerent towards each other.
    Lighten up with a good old crossword puzzle.

    • Mitch -  August 25, 2016 - 5:18 pm

      Very well said. I agree with you, absolutely.

  3. wolf tamer and tree puncher -  December 22, 2013 - 6:57 am

    I never do crosswords anyway. One, I can’t figure most of them out (I’m 13), and two, I’d rather be reading, writing, or playing Minecraft.

    That about sums it up. :D How many cruciverbalists are in a serving? :P Very witty.

    Can we please quit being rude to each other. My favorite part of every Hot Word article is the comments; you don’t have to waste space and computer memory or whatever is used on the internet (I’m not techy, okay?) on rudeness.

    And why is “cruciverbalist” underlined in the spell checker?

    Merry Christmas, everybody! :)

  4. jehuda -  December 21, 2013 - 10:35 am

    so who invented the cryptic crossword (and why?)

  5. Francis -  April 22, 2011 - 7:10 pm

    Could somebody please tell me why this is important?

    • Daniel Avalon -  May 8, 2015 - 10:40 am

      in order to prevent your mind and brain from some mental disease like Alzheimer.

      • MartiniBeanie -  July 12, 2016 - 6:19 pm

        Absolutely the truth! If u want to be able to use your mind & brain it’s important to keep stimulating your mind with activities that challenge your mental abilities. Crossword puzzles, word-search, sudoku puzzles help to keep your brain functions as much as reading, drawing, painting & anything else that is creative. If you don’t keep your brain functioning as strongly as possible you’ll lose your mental abilities & become a blithering dolt as you age. When you’re young it doesn’t seem important. But it’s VERY IMPORTANT!

  6. VaticanAssassinWarlock -  March 26, 2011 - 12:03 pm

    Whatever, you all can’t handle my level of power.I am battle tested bayonettes. I have adanus DNA. I hae poetry and tiger blood coursing through my veins.

  7. FooGriffy -  February 22, 2011 - 7:30 am

    Cruciverbalist is one of my all time favourite words.

  8. Mrs. Toy -  January 29, 2011 - 12:34 am

    ALL OF THIS IS FANTASTIC! I’d really love to leave each of you a personal message but don’t have the time. So what’s the deal with everyone being so rude to each other? Can’t we all just give props where they’re deserved (and they are well deserved, Cyberquill) and do the great bloggy things like keep jokes going on far longer and to a further extent than they should ever be taken? Thats fun! … right?… McV sounds like he or she needs a hug- thats all I’m saying. Ok well I’m a crossword lover and could do the standard NY Times crosswords through Thursdays with no problem but have recently moved and the local paper’s ‘crosswordier’ (not Mr. Shortz) has a different style or something. I’m not loving it but I want to give him a chance at the same time.

    • kusver -  December 23, 2014 - 11:02 am

      What is Cyberquill?i couldn’t get it’s meaning.

  9. McV -  January 28, 2011 - 3:38 pm

    To: Titte B Oob
    When I read your little smarmy retort to Anonymous and Unanimous, I thought you must be an educated adult. When I read the name you call yourself on this site (and understood immediately your infantile little play on words), I thought to myself, “No. This is some pretentious little boy who is quite too impressed with his sophomoric “wit.”
    Although, admittedly, they seemed quite idiotic too.


  10. OMG! -  January 28, 2011 - 2:52 pm

    This blog needs an enema application of gargantuan proportions. What I find interesting is that people are having an exchange of words over words.

    • Mitch -  August 25, 2016 - 5:22 pm

      This is SO true. Those you speak of, quite obviously, have much larger, and deeper issues that are not being faced. My condolences to them. I used to be one of them.

  11. SUDOKU | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  January 28, 2011 - 12:53 pm

    [...] Cross words come to us with regard to puzzles — SUDOKU doesn’t add up for us — Numbers with too many muzzles. — If it seems as though we’re Bozos on this bus, — that may be because we are. — At least we’ve never had a ‘boregasm’ — and we’ll never win a sudoku gold star. –>>Rupert L.T. Rhyme [...]

  12. jay -  December 27, 2010 - 4:54 pm

    hey i thought that the crossword problem was for the “genius” people

  13. Zupa -  December 24, 2010 - 7:37 pm

    I don’t think mead is crosswordese either! How insulting!

  14. Jen -  December 21, 2010 - 2:32 pm

    This blog never fails to entertain.

  15. Titte B Oob -  December 20, 2010 - 4:02 pm

    To: Anonymous

    You will not find an entry for paraskavedekatriaphobia in most dictionaries, either. This would be considered medical terminology, there are too many different variations of phobias for a dictionary to list them all, so only the most common ones are listed (fear of heights, fear of the number 13, etc.). For the record, friggatriskaidekaphobia also means a fear of Friday the 13th.

    To Unanimous:
    Try to make sure you are not misrepresenting other people with your posts. Your post suggests that you are somehow affiliated with dictionary.com or the hotword. Your post is filled with grammatical errors and your attempts at using “high falluting” words are horrendous. Please stop.

  16. Michael B. -  December 20, 2010 - 8:50 am

    What are the black spaces called? Just a blank?

  17. unanimous -  December 18, 2010 - 12:58 pm

    to anonymous:
    try to make sure that the word that you were searching is really a word because in our industry it’s considered as jargons. why you keep on looking for a stupid “paraskevidekatriaphobia” when you can use a mundane word?right? you are just flamboyant pretending to be savvy covering your real color as moron. So I highly advised not to use a high falluting word. let’s have esprit de corps in able to be the creme dela creme in apex of the world and don’t make a reader to be in the vortex of pandemonium that’s our gargantuan task.

  18. john rhea -  December 18, 2010 - 9:58 am

    paraskevidekatriaphobia is a greek salad.

  19. Moot -  December 17, 2010 - 10:37 am

    Cruciverbalists should be eaten with a pint of mead.

  20. Joseph -  December 17, 2010 - 10:16 am

    Your comment, Cyberquill, lets no room for anything else. Its ingenious. Its terrific and wonderworth. I will certainly quote you and perhaps local cannibals will raise an eyebrow and put you on their diet. Jest joking.

  21. psdbs -  December 17, 2010 - 9:32 am

    I cannot believe no one else has commented on this interesting, yet useless information. I did because I am archiving old ducuments at the same time………..yawn.

  22. Anonymous -  December 17, 2010 - 9:20 am

    Dictionary.com doesn’t have a definition for paraskevidekatriaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th. I have encountered this word in many crossword puzzles. C’mon, Dictionary.


  23. Marc -  December 17, 2010 - 8:01 am

    Lets not forget “Anoa” (Celebes Ox) and “Omoo” (the sequal to “Typee”)

  24. CROSSWORDS | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  December 17, 2010 - 7:28 am

    [...] use no Cross Words in this rhyme — we have not the cruciverbalists’ time. — Though Will Shortz on Sunday morn — the “Puzzle Master” does adorn [...]

  25. jayc -  December 17, 2010 - 7:11 am

    hey wats up everyone who understands this puzzle thing

  26. larry -  December 17, 2010 - 6:13 am

    I never participate in the comments section other than to occassionally read. Cyberquill, that was too witty. I loved it!

  27. one strike two balls -  December 17, 2010 - 4:31 am

    refudicate is a future candidate of crosswordese.

  28. grammarcapitalist -  December 17, 2010 - 3:43 am

    I agree with cyberquill. does anyone read these, anyway?

  29. Aimee -  December 17, 2010 - 3:35 am

    How much is in a serving?

  30. BEN -  December 17, 2010 - 3:28 am


  31. KLB -  December 17, 2010 - 12:45 am

    So what are the black cells called?

  32. lou -  December 17, 2010 - 12:13 am

    quite interesting facts then. thanks a lot for the info.^^

  33. KayB -  December 16, 2010 - 10:27 pm

    Oslo is NOT crosswordese.

  34. Anthony Meacham -  December 16, 2010 - 9:35 pm

    The white squares? So that would mean… what? The near entirety of the crossword? Might as well call this “The Breakdown of a crossword.”

    More or less its an interesting enough topic.

  35. NOTORIUS M.I.G -  December 16, 2010 - 5:18 pm


    “The Surgeon General recommends that cannibals consume at least two servings of cruciverbalists a day.”

  36. lolololololouis -  December 16, 2010 - 4:47 pm

    he also recommends that you eat at least 10 annoying blogger s a day lol

  37. DJB -  December 16, 2010 - 4:34 pm

    Two of my favorite words I learned from doing crossword puzzles: UXOR and GNOMON.

  38. Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry -  December 16, 2010 - 4:11 pm

    CRUCILITERATION, cf alliteration, but by any, matching, letter.

    INPUT BOXES, is what they’re called these days….

  39. Cyberquill -  December 16, 2010 - 2:51 pm

    The Surgeon General recommends that cannibals consume at least two servings of cruciverbalists a day.


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