Introduction by Will Shortz, New York Times crossword editor
For almost as long as there have been crossword puzzles, there have been crossword dictionaries. Within just a few months of the fad for crosswords starting in 1924, books appeared to help solvers with their emus, okapis, esnes, and other strange but common denizens of Crosswordland.
No matter how carefully crosswords are constructed, some words do show up in them much more frequently than in everyday speech and writing. In fact, many crosswords contain words that even a well-rounded person may never encounter outside a puzzle context.
If you run into a puzzle that has too many answers you donít know, or if the answers to two unknowable clues cross, you may need help to finish.
The Million Word Crossword Dictionary, compiled by my colleagues Stanley Newman and Daniel Stark, has been created to break solving impasses. Two years in the making, and designed from the ground up, it contains more than 250,000 clues and 1,000,000+ words, specifically chosen to help with crosswords of the kind found in newspapers, books, and magazines today.
All the classic clues are here: “Celebes ox” (ANOA), “Arrow poison” (INEE), “Sea eagle” (ERN or ERNE), “Eskimo knife” (ULU), and other obscurities from the depths of the unabridged dictionary.
The volume also contains tens of thousands of names from modern culture that frequently crop up in puzzles now: “Singer DiFranco” (ANI), “Golfer Ernie” (ELS), “Sarah McLachlan hit” (ADIA), “Peter Fonda title role” (ULEE), and so on.
Of special help are lists of Oscar winners, Nobelists, Wimbledon champions, popes, makes of autos, dogs in TV shows, and dozens of other fact-based categories useful to puzzlers.
The book even contains tens of thousands of fill-in-the-blank clues like “__ minute” (IN A) and “__ point” (TO THE), based on phrases you know but may not be able to complete on the spot.
This new edition has been thoroughly updated, to incorporate the latest factual information, slang terms, celebrity names and other recent arrivals on the crossword scene.
The result is the largest, most up-to-date, and most useful crossword dictionary available.
Is it cheating to use a book like this?
Well, say you’re stuck in the middle of a puzzle. You can give up . . . or you can get an answer or two, allowing you to proceed and finish the puzzle on your own. In a situation like this, it makes sense to get help. Using a reference book is educational besides.
Whatever “rules” you follow, it’s ultimately your puzzle. Solve it any way you like!