Monday, November 17, 2014

Crossword Bloggers' Jargon – Decoded!

crossword-bloggers-jargon-decoded New to crossword blogs and forums? Some of the conversation happening there might appear more cryptic than the clues. This post will help you interpret what the regulars are saying. Enjoy participating!

Anagrind, Anagrist

Anagrind stands for anagram indicator. The letters that get jumbled to give the solution in an anagram clue are called anagram fodder, or anagrist.

Usage examples:
"Last in was ANGOSTURA, perhaps the cleverest clue in the crossword; it was ingenious to use 'turns' as anagrist rather than anagrind." [source]
"I never heard of it either, and I'd also have spelt THINGAMABOB differently but for the anagrist." [source]

For further reading: But Which is the Anagrind?


A term popular among Indian solvers, anno is short for "annotation" i.e. the explanation of wordplay in a cryptic clue. A solver who blogs about a puzzle's solution presents the anno along with each answer.

Usage examples:
"Though I got through this one in a jiffy I'm unable to get some of the annos." [source]
"Anno pending" [source] - typically put next to a clue's solution on the blog, if the clue has been answered but the parsing is unclear. This is an invitation for the commenters to provided the parsing.

For further reading: Clue Annotation Shortcodes


To biff is to enter a clue's answer from the definition without fully understanding its parsing. The term originated in Jan 2015 as BIFD (acronym of Bunged In From Definition) in a comment on Times for the Times blog. BIFD later morphed into 'biffed'.

Usage examples:
"As soon as I read 1dn I thought of BELLYACHING but I didn't have any checkers and didn't want to biff it that early into the solve." [source]
"...had trouble with 7 because I biffed LARGO, beware biffing!" [source]

Checkers or Crossers

Short for checking letters or crossing letters – those letters that are revealed in a clue's answer because of the filled cells from intersecting clues in the grid.

Usage examples:
"A very pleasant puzzle with two excellent fifteen letter anagrams to give you a lot of checkers!" [source]
"5 and 26 were last in, new to me but gettable with crossers." [source]

For further reading: Crossword Grid: Checking, Cold Solving


"Clue Of The Day" – what the solver hails as the best clue of a crossword.

Usage examples:
"DISPATCH is my COD for the devious surface that had nothing to do with the final answer." [source]
"I do find that my last-in (or nearly) is so often my COD." [source]

COD can also stand for Concise Oxford Dictionary, as in "rare isn’t apparently given in Chambers or the COD but is no doubt somewhere" [source]


Clue annotation shortcode for "Cockney Rhyming Slang", usually seen in the solution explanation on British crossword blogs.

Usage examples:
"PRATFALL = TAR rev + F all in PAL (china - CRS) + L" [source]
"We are usually given the CRS and expected to use the literal meaning, rather than the other way around as here." [source]

For further reading: Demystifying Clue Annotation Shortcodes


"Definition By Example" - a type of wordplay in which the clue contains not a synonym, but an example or sub-type, of the answer.

Usage examples:
"Presumably the question mark is intended to cover the DBE." [source]
"...I considered and rejected early on the possibility that "bowler" might give HAT: I was sure such a clear DBE would have to be indicated in the Times." [source]

In clue wordplay, DBE can also mean Dame of the British Empire.


The situation of not having completed the crossword. Acronym of "Did Not Finish".

Usage examples:
"Failed on 'neodymium' and 'algonkin', so a DNF for me today. If anyone complains that the puzzle was too easy, I’ll consider taking up knitting." [source]
"Is it still a technical DNF if you resort to aids and the aids don't help and then you get the answer anyway?" [source]


Another term popular among Indian solvers, enu is short for "enumeration" i.e. the length of a clue's solution. When the solution is a phrase or contains hyphenated words, the enu indicates the word breakup too e.g. (6-4) for ANIMAL-LIKE, (2,3,4,2) for AS YOU LIKE IT.

Usage examples:
"I don’t go with the thinking that giving the enu as (2-7) would be a dead giveaway." [source]
"When it is an acronym such as Nato, pronounceable as a word, the enu might be 4. But when it is say, NDTV, where every letter is pronounced the enu must be 1,1,1,1." [source]


"Fill In the Blank(s)", a clue type in which a sentence/phrase - usually a line of poetry or a famous quote - acts as the clue, with word(s) blanked out to indicate the answer. The acronym is mostly used by The Hindu Crossword solvers, perhaps because this clue type is rarely seen in other crosswords nowadays.

Usage examples:
"A FITB clue to complete a quote from Shakespeare or Chaucer might be easy for those into them, but horribly hard for people like me." [source]
"Not a single CD in sight! (Barring the FITB.)" [source]


"Last One In" - refers to the final answer that a solver entered into the grid. LOI is usually mentioned when there was a special struggle involved in solving that last clue. As you'd guess, the opposite of LOI is FOI (First One In).

Usage examples:
"LOI was 10A - the shortest words can be the hardest, if there isn't too much to work with on the surface!" [source]
"For some reason I needed all the checkers for my LOI…" [source]


A hidden message within a pattern of cells in the completed crossword grid. Read more at What is a Nina?

Usage examples:
"No theme, but there is a devilishly clever Nina hiding where you wouldn’t expect it." [source]
"I suspected a Nina from the start from the shape of the grid and esp as some answers had less than 50% checking." [source]

For further reading: Possibly the oldest Nina

"n" Magoos, "x" Tonies, etc.

On Times for the Times (T4tT) blog, it is customary for solvers to mention the time they took to finish the crossword. The Times Crossword Club leaderboard lists the stats for each puzzle, which means that any solver can benchmark their play against the fastest solvers.

T4tT bloggers have come up with nifty units to measure relative solving speed: the most popularly used is a Magoo – the time taken by Times crossword champion  Mark Goodliffe to finish the crossword. Instead of quoting absolute time as, say, "26 minutes 55 seconds", a solver could say "2.4 Magoos". Similarly, a tony is the time taken by Tony Sever to finish the crossword, a keriothe the time taken by Keriothe.

Usage examples:
"Five tonies for me (or three keriothes), and in my terms that's very good." [source]
"…clock stopped at 18:17, which was well outside my daily target of 2 Magoos" [source]


Short for "Personal Best" – the fastest time/highest score achieved by a solver.

Usage examples:
"This was perhaps the easiest daily crossword I have ever done…I expect a lot of fast times, several PBs and not a few less than gruntled regulars." [source]
"my time was 11:48. I'm sure this must be a PB if measured in Magoos." [source]

Note: sometimes PB can stand for the initials of another person on the forum e.g. when the Sunday Times blogger says "Many thanks, first of all, to PB for letting me have an advance copy of this puzzle" – the thanks are meant for the Sunday Times crossword editor.


The beautiful "Penny-Drop Moment" when the workings of an elusive clue or theme suddenly become clear to the solver. Often used in the context of crosswords with interlinked clues, in which the PDM gives the key to the theme.

Usage examples:
"I was struggling to see how it worked, and it was only on coming to write up the blog that I had the pdm" [source]
"I proceeded through the puzzle with increasing incredulity at the seemingly lost opportunity until the huge PDM at my penultimate entry at 14ac." [source]


A metaphor for the joy a solver (especially a new solver) experiences in finishing the crossword. Used on The Hindu Crossword Corner (THCC), ever since solver Gayathri Sreekanth celebrated a completed grid by eating samosas.

Also conveys that the crossword was easy - where a blogger on T4tT would say "I expect several PBs today", one on THCC might say "A samosa feast today!".

Usage examples:
"No samosa for me today as I'm stumped for some annos :-(" [source] - technically, DNF = No samosa
"I have lost 3 samosas in the last few days for being careless" [source]


An unchecked letter in the crossword grid. Read more at Crossword Grid: Checking.

Usage examples:
"Read round the unches from the bottom left in the two ways to the top right to get the Nina." [source]
"I can't see any message in the unches or the diagonal, but I have this nagging feeling that I've missed something." [source]


Short for Ximenean. The terms comes up in discussions on the accuracy or fairness of a clue.

Usage examples:
"The perception is that Xims and Libs stand in opposite trenches which, to me, is a shame." [source]
"As well as being an Indyist he’s also in the Times, and you can’t get away with too many ‘in-deedisms’ on that pro-Xim panel." [source]

For further reading: in-deedism, Of Ximeneans and Libertarians

Related Posts:

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Kishore said...

for enumeration, ie length of the solution, sometimes duly split up into break up of words like (2,3,4,2)for "As you like it", but sometimes given as (11 - 4 words)

Chaturvasi said...

DBE - definition by example.


I am not sure if any British or American in any international forum uses the abbreviation 'anno' for 'annotation'. The more common term is 'parsing', I think.

I am not sure if any dictionary approves of this abbreviation

In the early Twenties I used this abbr. in a Yahoogroups forum and later also in a Google groups forum. As I had to use it so often and as I was lazy to type the long word every time, I went for 'anno'.

Much later, when I became a member of DIY COW, I was emboldened to use it.

Is it catching on there? Let a DIY COW member say!

Kishore said...

Fill in the blank/s

mctext said...

CRS: Cockney Rhyming Slang.

Rishi said...

In my Comment above, I meant early 2000s. - Chaturvasi

vasant said...

Lots of new terms learnt. Had never heard of Magoos & Tonies & PBs( being a confirmed Samosa eater).

Shuchi said...

Thanks for your inputs.

Post updated for Enu, DBE, FIB / FITB, CRS.

suki said...

What is the origin of biff?

Shuchi said...

@suki: Thanks for asking about that interesting new coinage. Added "biff" to the main post, including a link to its origin.

Hemant Ainapure said...

Sometimes,the enum immediately tells the Solver what is the answer even without parsing the clue. Hence,in such cases, I use the unknown 'x' in the enum.
For example, if the answer is " sub Rosa ", I will give the enum as (x, x +1).
It increases the shelf-life of the clue at least by a few minutes !

Shuchi said...

@Hemant: That's a neat way out of the giveaway enu problem. I guess you are talking about standalone clues, though, not those in published grids.

Some crosswords (usually the non-cryptic kind e.g. NYT, LA Times) do not list the enu with the clues. From the grid, the solver gets to know the total answer length but not the split of words in it. In fact the brilliant NYT Election Day Crossword couldn't have worked without the no-enu convention.