Is it OK to cheat when solving crosswords?

For The Guardian, author Alan Connor examined the idea of using tools to help you finish crossword puzzles and whether it’s okay to do so. Those tools usually include:

  • Word-finders
  • Asking friends, family, or colleagues
  • Dictionaries
  • Blogs and forums

His general answer to all of them was “yes” and for varying reasons:

Can I ask a friend?

Of course you can. One stereotype of the solver is the commuter with furrowed brow, poignantly captured by David Nobbs. But many others solve with workmates, with distant relations, in the pub (when possible), in bed. The Guardian’s crossword app even has a “play together” feature, which rather puts an end to the debate.

If you are solving on paper, find a friend who does the same and get into the habit of daily texting. Small pleasures. Can you ask a friend? You must ask a friend.


Put it this way: I use them. There are some puzzles (quiptic, Everyman, Times 2) where you can expect to be familiar with everything the setter asks of you – and there are those where you might encounter something new.

I haven’t done a crossword puzzle in a while. I definitely get the togetherness feature when you ask friends or colleagues as I used to print daily Guardian crosswords out at my old job. I didn’t use any tools to help me find words as I wanted to test my general knowledge but I used tools to confirm definitions of words sometimes. It’s not Scrabble!

Related: Bored Of Crossword Puzzles? Try Nonograms.

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