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Posted 4 Jan 2011

Solving the Cryptic Crossword Clues

, 4 Jan 2011
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How to solve the daily CCC


This article discusses how to solve the CCC that is presented each morning. For those who aren't aware, CCC means Cryptic Crossword Clue.


Many people have asked for a basic run through of the CCC, so this article presents a basic guide to help you start to think like a crossword solver.

Code Project Cryptic Crossword Clues

This is a guide to solving the daily CCC, so let us begin with first principles.

There is nothing easier than solving cryptic crosswords.

What is a cryptic crossword clue?

This is a question that many have asked. There are many definitions, but Cryptic crosswords are crossword puzzles in which each clue is a word puzzle in and of itself.

The Main Clue is an amalgam of smaller clues in which they each give part of the answer, with a total clue which is a synonym.

How are crossword clues made up?

There are two parts to each clue, the Cryptic and the Synonym. Here is an example:

False teller and achievement we hear.

From this, we can get the answer COUNTERFEIT.

False is the synonym which is counterfeit, and from the cryptic part, Teller is Counter and achievement is a feat, but as it is 'heard’ it means a word spelled the same.

So if this seems complicated, then welcome to the world of the CCC. Now, let us move on to the more obtuse terminology...


When one is presented with an anagram, one must recognize it. Terms such as ‘Dance’, ‘Mixed’, ‘About’ or ‘Crazy’ for example, may indicate an anagram.

So ‘Crazy Words’ may mean ‘Sword’ for example.


This is an indicator of the points of a compass NSE or W.


Terms like ‘Within’, ‘Held’, ‘Contain’, etc. mean that what is to follow is inside another term, e.g. 'Sticks and is in Points' means ‘Wands’. This means 'AND' is in 'POINTS', W and S giving STICKS, which are wands.


These are terms that have two meanings.

Second for example may mean after the first, but may also mean a time period. It may also be represented as the letter S.

Do you now see how complicated it is started to get, because S may also be represented by Point?


Reversals may be represented by the likes of ‘Mirrored’, or ‘Reflected’ or possibly ‘back’.

‘Backing car’ may mean ‘RAC’


These are usually shown by’ heard of’ or ‘listened to’. An example is ‘Heard of you’ meaning the letter U.


Hot head for example, gives H, or United Nations is UN, etc.

In fact, there are so many ways of obtaining individual terms or letters.

Here is the Wiki definition for cryptic clues.

Now, to solve the CCC is simple, one merely has to work out each day's clue.


It starts easy, and it ends easy, but Thursday is always the hard one.

There are often weekly themes and one can see these sometimes and they may help in the solving.

Points of Interest

Cryptic Crosswords are so complicated that there is no end to the definitions, only more obtuse clues, so please feel free to add to this article.


This is the first posting on this matter. It will be updated by all members who are GOLD or above.

Edited: 23/11/11 - Some minor formatting. Pete O'Hanlon


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Dalek Dave
CEO Ink Bucket Ltd
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Six years since my profile changed.
Still in same job, still in same country.
Earning rather more, working a lot harder.

I seem to know slightly more, which is good on the whole.

Despite my day job I am web designing, (ASP.NET now), still writing VB and VBA, but that is because of a boss who can only just understand VB and keeping my feet wet with C#.

Set up a business, still early days and enjoyable.

Still haven't been voted into public office.

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