Acrostic (puzzle)

Acrostic (puzzle)

An acrostic is a type of word puzzle, related somewhat to crossword puzzles, that uses an acrostic form. It typically consists of two parts. The first part is a set of lettered clues, each of which has numbered blanks representing the letters of the answer. The second part is a long series of numbered blanks and spaces, representing a quotation or other text, into which the answers for the clues fit. In some forms of the puzzle, the first letters of each correct clue answer, read in order from clue A on down the list, will spell out the author of the quote and the title of the work it is taken from; this can be used as an additional solving aid.


An example

For example, two clues in the first part might be:

A. Country of the Rising Sun: _ _ _ _ _
8 5 17 2 14
B. Not doing anything: _ _ _ _
9 7 23 20

The second part is initially blank:

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

If the answer to clue A is JAPAN, then the second part fills in as follows:

_ A _ _ A _ _ J _ _ _ _ _ N _ _ P _ _ _ _ _ _ _
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

Letters 16 and 17 form a two-letter word ending in P. Since this has to be UP, letter 16 is a U, which can be filled into the appropriate clue answer in the list of clues. Likewise, a three-letter word starting with A could be and, any, all, or even a proper name like Ann. One might need more clue answers before daring to guess which it could be.

If the answer to clue B is IDLE, one could narrow down the 5/6/7 word to AND and the following word starting with JI. Some people might already begin to recognize the phrase "Jack and Jill went up the hill."


Elizabeth Kingsley is credited with inventing the puzzle for Saturday Review in 1934, under the name double-crostic. Since then, other nonce words ending in "-crostic" have been used. Anacrostic may be the most accurate term used, and hence most common, as it is a portmanteau of anagram and acrostic, referencing the fact that the solution is an anagram of the clues, and the author of the quote is hidden in the clues acrostically. Later Saturday Review constructors were Doris Nash Wortman, Thomas Middleton, and Barry Tunick. Thomas Middleton also produced many puzzles for Harpers Magazine. Kingsley, Wortman, and Middleton created additional puzzles for The New York Times from 1952-1999, but not more than one every other week. Cox and Rathvon took over for the NYT in 1999. A similar puzzle, called a Trans-O-Gram, by Svend Petersen, and later, Kem Putney, appeared in National Review from 1963-1993. Trans-O-Grams were often themed puzzles, with clues related to the quote. The name Duo-Crostic was used by the LA Times for puzzles by Barry Tunick and Sylvia Bursztyn. Charles Preston creates Quote-Acrostics for the Washington Post. Charles Duerr, author of many books of Crostic puzzles, should also be mentioned.


External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Acrostic — This article is about a type of poem. For the word puzzle, see Acrostic (puzzle). An acrostic (Greek: ákros top ; stíchos verse ) is a poem or other form of writing in which the first letter, syllable or word of each line, paragraph or other… …   Wikipedia

  • Acrostic — A*cros tic, n. [Gr. ?; ? extreme + ? order, line, verse.] 1. A composition, usually in verse, in which the first or the last letters of the lines, or certain other letters, taken in order, form a name, word, phrase, or motto. [1913 Webster] 2. A… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • acrostic — ► NOUN ▪ a poem or puzzle in which certain letters in each line form a word or words. ORIGIN Greek akrostikhis, from akron end + stikhos row, line of verse …   English terms dictionary

  • acrostic — acrostically, adv. /euh kraw stik, euh kros tik/, n. 1. a series of lines or verses in which the first, last, or other particular letters when taken in order spell out a word, phrase, etc. adj. 2. Also, acrostical. of, like, or forming an… …   Universalium

  • acrostic — n. 1 a poem or other composition in which certain letters in each line form a word or words. 2 a word puzzle constructed in this way. Phrases and idioms: double acrostic one using the first and last letters of each line. single acrostic one using …   Useful english dictionary

  • puzzle — n 1. acrostic, crossword puzzle; anagram, logogriph, word game; jigsaw puzzle; Chinese puzzle. 2. enigma, mystery, riddle, conundrum, question, question mark; problem, dilemma, quandary, plight, predicament; maze, labyrinth, tangle, knot; secret …   A Note on the Style of the synonym finder

  • acrostic — UK [əˈkrɒstɪk] / US [əˈkrɔstɪk] noun [countable] Word forms acrostic : singular acrostic plural acrostics a number of lines of writing, for example a poem or a word puzzle, in which particular letters from each line form a word or phrase …   English dictionary

  • puzzle — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) n. riddle, conundrum, poser, enigma; mystification, perplexity, complication; dilemma, bewilderment, confusion. v. t. confound, perplex, bewilder, confuse, mystify. See difficulty, unintelligibility,… …   English dictionary for students

  • acrostic — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) n. acronym; double acrostic. See word, shortness. II (Roget s 3 Superthesaurus) n. word puzzle, wordplay, word game …   English dictionary for students

  • acrostic — noun a) A poem or other text in which certain letters, often the first in each line, spell out a name or message. b) A particular kind of word puzzle: its solutions form an anagram of a quotation …   Wiktionary

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