Can You Solve the World’s First Crossword Puzzle?

Updated: Nov. 25, 2017

Up for a challenge? Take a stab at completing the first crossword puzzle ever published.

Can-You-Solve-the-Worlds-First-Crossword-PuzzleTatiana Ayazo/, Puzzle Courtesy Sik Cambon Jensen

December 21 is a significant day for several reasons—it marks the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, and four days left to do your Christmas shopping. But it’s also an important day for word nerds, because it’s the anniversary of one of the most popular word games of all time—the crossword puzzle.

December 21 is “Crossword Puzzle Day” because on this day in 1913, Arthur Wynne published a puzzle called a “Word-cross.” Wynne’s puzzle would go down in history as the first crossword ever published. (Did you know crosswords are so popular that one man designed one for his own tombstone?)

Wynne’s original puzzle looked a bit different from crossword puzzles we see today—the boxes were arranged in a diamond shape, not a square, with an open space in the middle. However, the rules were almost exactly the same. Each row of boxes, horizontal and vertical, corresponded to one word, and a short clue was given for each word. Even over 100 years later, Wynne’s puzzle is still totally solvable for 21st-century word nerds. Take a look at the puzzle above and its clues below, and then give it a try! Doing crossword puzzles can make your brain younger, so why not?

Wynne’s puzzle has one word already filled in—“fun,” the name of the newspaper section in which the puzzle was published. The clues are slightly different—instead of “across” and “down,” the clues say the numbers of the starting and ending boxes of that word. For instance, the word below “fun,” 2 across, is written as “2-3” in the clue list. The clue for 2 down is “2-11.”

Some of the words are a little old-fashioned, and you might have to brush up on your Russian geography, but overall, we’re sure it’s nothing a word-savvy puzzler like yourself can’t handle. (Finally, here’s one more hint: the word “dove” is in there twice.) Now get puzzling!

2-3. What bargain hunters enjoy. 6-22. What we all should be.
4-5. A written acknowledgment. 4-26. A day dream.
6-7. Such and nothing more. 2-11. A talon.
10-11. A bird. 19-28. A pigeon.
14-15. Opposed to less. F-7. Part of your head.
18-19. What this puzzle is. 23-30. A river in Russia.
22-23. An animal of prey. 1-32. To govern.
26-27. The close of a day. 33-34. An aromatic plant.
28-29. To elude. N-8. A fist.
30-31. The plural of is. 24-31. To agree with.
8-9. To cultivate. 3-12. Part of a ship.
12-13. A bar of wood or iron. 20-29. One.
16-17. What artists learn to do. 5-27. Exchanging.
20-21. Fastened. 9-25. To sink in mud.
24-25. Found on the seashore. 13-21. A boy.
10-18. The fibre of the gomuti palm.

If you’re stumped, click here for the answer key.

Want to be puzzled even more? Try your hand at this word quiz inspired by the 2016 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.

[Source: American Crossword Puzzle Tournament]