Big Dave’s Little Guide to Cryptic Crosswords

Reference Books

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Useful reference books•••• << Back to Contents

There are a large number of books on the market, but you don’t need to buy all of them! Stick to no more than three dictionaries, and make sure that Chambers is one of them. Most of the product descriptions are the publisher’s own.


The Chambers Dictionary – 12th edition (2011)

Without a copy of the trusty Chambers you will find solving Telegraph crossword puzzles unnecessarily difficult.

Collins Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary – Anne Bradford

Available in paperback with an exceptionally clear text design, this edition is durable and easy to use. With over 30,000 new solutions, users will never again be short of answers to their crossword clues! Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary is a unique type of crossword dictionary in that it has been compiled and crafted by a single author based on her 45 years’ experience of crossword solving. Every word in this dictionary has appeared as a solution to a real crossword clue.

Oxford Dictionary of English

For a long time the Concise Oxford English Dictionary (COED) was the dictionary of choice for many people. It was used by the TV program Countdown until a new edition omitted a lot of common words, at which point they switched to the Oxford Dictionary of English. This dictionary sits between the COED and the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary in both size and cost.

Literary References

Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable

Long established as the ultimate reference for anyone with an interest in the English language, Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable features tens of thousands of encyclopedic entries examining the origins and significance of popular words, phrases, allusions and cultural references. Its delightfully diverse content includes cultural, historical and mythological references, beliefs and customs, proper names, literary characters, idioms and slang.

Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations is as impressive, erudite, enjoyable, and educational a tome as you might expect from Oxford. It’s the sort of undertaking the press does very well. The first such dictionary, as compiled by Oxford, was published in 1953, and it’s been tweaking, modifying, and updating it ever since. This new edition, the fifth, offers well over 20,000 quotations from more than 3,000 authors. Responding to correspondence from their readers, Oxford has restored some material from past editions, such as the proverbs and nursery-rhymes section. There’s a much more inclusive attention to sacred texts of world religions, and 2,000 quotations are brand new.

Thesauri (or should it be Thesauruses!)

The Chambers Thesaurus

Drawing on the resources of the world-renowned The Chambers Dictionary, this fully revised edition of The Chambers Thesaurus contains an even greater selection of alternative words than before. It includes modern, up-to-date vocabulary as well as many rare and archaic terms.

Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases

Roget’s Thesaurus is the world’s most famous and trusted word-finder. First published in 1852 it has now sold over 32 million copies worldwide and has become the indispensable desk companion for generations of speakers and writers of English. Unlike most other thesauruses, it groups words thematically rather than in a straight A-Z sequence, thus offering the writer and speaker a much more creative and subtle means of finding new ways to express their thoughts: it is essential for anyone who wants to improve their command, creative use and enjoyment of English, and is perfect for composing speeches, or for writing all manner of prose and poetry. It remains, definitively, a writer’s best friend

Word Lists

Chambers Crossword Lists

Chambers Crossword Lists brings together thousands of encyclopedic solutions to quick and cryptic clues, creating an invaluable resource for all cruciverbalists. Information is included from the arts, the natural world, sport, politics and more, from types of tree to New York landmarks, famous philosophers to cricket terms.

Chambers XWD: A Dictionary of Crossword Abbreviations – Kindred & Knight

This enlightening volume lays bare the mysteries of the abbreviations used in cryptic crosswords and is a welcome aid to solving even the most perplexing clues. Thousands of abbreviations, symbols and codes are listed by clue word for ease of use.

Collins Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Lists – Anne Bradford

This book gives hundreds of wide-ranging wordlists to help with solving cryptic and quick crossword clues. The lists, which are sorted alphabetically and by length, provide an invaluable reference for all crossword-solvers. A must for all crossword-solvers, this updated edition of the Bradford’s Crossword Lists has been compiled from the Collins thesaurus database, with help from Anne Bradford. It gives hundreds of useful wordlists covering a wide range of subjects, with each list sorted by length and then alphabetically, to give maximum help with solving crossword clues. Solvers can locate words by subject, spotting the word they need to complete their crossword grids quickly.

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