Understanding Crossword Abbreviations in American Crosswords

Crossword abbreviations

What does ‘anag’ mean in crosswords? This is a common type of question about the abbreviations that appear in crossword clues. These crossword abbreviations can be tricky for new solvers in particular. Understanding crossword abbreviations in American crosswords will make you a better crossword solver. Learn how to identify abbreviations in crossword clues and answers here.

Cryptic Crossword Abbreviations

First, a clarification: abbreviations differ in cryptic crosswords from American crosswords. Cryptic crossword abbreviations are not always what they seem. This is because abbreviations are often limited to one or two letters, and can have many meanings.

The same letter can refer to multiple abbreviations. For example, the letter “E” can refer to both East and English. One word can also have multiple abbreviations, such as “PE” or “PT” for “Gym.”

This list will help you understand cryptic crossword abbreviations better. By contrast, American crosswords have more straightforward abbreviations. Understanding them will help you solve American crosswords much more quickly.

Identifying an Abbreviation in a Clue

To understand American crossword abbreviations, you must first be able to identify them. Most of the time, abbreviations have a period at the end of two to three letters. Some common crossword abbreviations include:

  • Fr. – French
  • Fig. – Figure
  • Grp. – Group
  • Org. – Organization

If you see an abbreviation you do not recognize, or if you suspect there’s an abbreviation in a clue, use an abbreviation tool like Abbreviations.com. It will help you identify many crossword abbreviations.

Sometimes crossword clues will also abbreviate the names of organizations. These abbreviations appear in all capital letters. A list like this one from The New York Times can help you identify these unique abbreviations.

When is an Answer Abbreviated?

Crossword abbreviations don’t only appear in clues – they’re quite common in answers as well. This is because the grid is fully checked. It requires constructors to choose smaller words for the tighter parts of the grid. Abbreviations fit well into these tighter spots. There are several ways to identify if an answer will be an abbreviation.

When the clue is also abbreviated

Because answers match their clues in tense, they also match in abbreviation. In other words, if a clue is abbreviated, then the answer will be abbreviated as well.

Directions like north, south, east, and west are often used in American crosswords as well. When they are abbreviated, the answer will be abbreviated as well. For example, if the clue reads, “Opposite of NEN,” the answer will be SWS.

When the words “abbreviation,” “for short,” or “in brief” appear

Sometimes the clue will feature the abbreviation for the word “abbreviation.” This means the answer will be an abbreviation as well. It will appear as “Abbr.” in the clue. In other clues, the clue will end with “for short” or “in brief.” This means the answer is a shortened version of the original word.

The New York Times has made a mini crossword to quiz you on crossword abbreviations. Try it out here.

Crossword abbreviations are easy to understand with a little practice. The best way to understand crossword abbreviations is to solve crosswords. Visit our newspaper-style crosswords to solve a few. Then, make your own by creating an account and selecting “Create Newspaper Puzzle.” If your crossword features some great crossword abbreviations, share it in the comments. It may make it into this post!

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