A cryp-cross is a riddle in the form of a cryptic crossword clue... without a crossword. Cryp-crosses take the form of a surreal sentence, from which letters, words, sounds and associations are taken to form new words.

The main difference between actual cryptic crossword clues and LFTO cryp-cross clues is that cryp-crosses are generally simpler. In true cryptic crosswords, some letters and letter positions at intersections aid you without mentioning them in the clue. In the LFTO Riddle Thread that advantage isn't present, so clues need to be simpler to make up for that.

Cryp-crosses have at least three of four common features:

1 A bunch of letters, stupidly arranged as a grammatically questionable sentence
2 Action phrases
3 A cross-check
4 The number of letters in the answer

For the sake of convention, answers are in American English. Multiple word answers are indicated with a letter count delimited by commas, eg. "sense of humor" is (5,2,5)

Cryptic Crosswords pervert grammar into lousy puns. They might be witty. They might be insane. But they're never funny. Just.... Fucked.

There are several types of clue, and hybrid clues are possible with a little thought.


1) Devil went back to see if he existed (5) LIVED
2) Drink inside rancid errors (5) CIDER
3) Found art in attendance (5) DANCE
4) Clam shaken, not stirred (4) CALM

Anagrams give you a 'letter-bank': letters of words within the clue are concatenated, scrambled or deleted from other words to form the answer.

ACTION PHRASES tell the solver what to do with the letters. In clue 1, 'went back' tells you to spell something backwards. In 2, 'inside' tells you to look within the phrase 'rancid errors' to find the word 'cider' there, plain as day; the same with 'found' in clue 3. In 4, 'shaken' tells you to re-jumble the letters of 'clam'.

More action phrases: 'about, top n' tail, sit around' (stick letters 'about' some other letters), 'in, inside, within' (letters found within other letters), 'mix, blend, shaken, arrange, twist, shuffle, weave' (and a boatload of other words that hint at mixing or scrambling the letters of a phrase to make a new word), 'ahead, behind, beneath, under, over, leading, trailing' (letters in front or behind other letters)... you get the idea.

CROSS-CHECKS are a synonym, pun or hint at the meaning of the new word. In clue 1, 'existed' is the synonym or cross-check. In 2, it's 'drink'. In 3, it's 'art'. In 4, 'not stirred'.

SO... How do you know which is which???

You don't. With experience, you get used to playing with words, re-grouping them, working through puns or quips, and generally playing with crazy interpretations of meaning.


Common abbreviations, contractions, acronyms and initials are often used for clues.

1) I led Ronald to the periodic element (4) IRON
2) Cardinal points have mixed interest (4) NEWS
3) Fundamental science degree blends with artificial intelligence, initially (5) BASIC
4) William's expenses (5) BILLS
5) Bachelor on 40's crime chase for chaos (6) BEDLAM

Compass points tend to be abbreviations for N, S, E,W. 'Degrees' or academic puns tend to represent letters of a degree, like BSC, BA (very common), DIP, B.Ed, etc.

Trivia references

East keep gets loud when messy (5) FORTE
Tangled soft, circular proportion is seedy (3) PIP

Really horrible cryptic crosswords play with different languages, as if they weren't stupid enough. "The French" often means "LE" or "LA" ('The', in French... [facepalm]).

Greek letters, Roman numerals, musical notation (soft = p, very soft = pp, loud = f, tempo references, etc), common game references (cards, chess, golf etc)... trivia clues often define the audience. A clue like this:

Propeller logo company reverses around a circle to grow junior (4) WOMB

- will alienate people for whom car history is non-existent.


Ignore punctuation. Punctuation in cryp-crosses is there to help create the illusion that the clue makes sense: it rarely aids you, and usually misleads you.

There are exceptions. Question marks at the end of a clue, for example, normally indicate a particularly atrocious/clever pun.

Congratulate the steak? (4,4) WELL DONE
Measurement within: no lame tricks, ok? (6) METRIC

Sound Clues

1) Pony sounds like a sore throat (1,6,5) A LITTLE HORSE
2) Sounds like some lions were levered? (5) PRIDE
3) Rural step has fashion sense, we hear (5) STILE

Sound-based clues are audio puns, homonyms or onomatopoeia-related quips.

Clue Structure

Cryp-cross clues are cryptic, but very precise, very concise. Only one unique answer can be evidently possible from the clue suggested, with no left-over letters, assumed letters, misleading senses or plurals.

BAD: Hunts asparagus? (5) STALK
GOOD: Hunts asparagus? (6) STALKS (appropriate tense with extra 's')

BAD: He departed like foliage (6) LEAVES
GOOD: He departs like foliage (6) LEAVES (appropriate tense)

BAD: Lurches to the domesticated animals for a mollusc (6) LIMPET (from 'limps' and 'pets' - 2 extra 's's, one extra 'p')
GOOD (ish): Lurches to the domesticated animals, losing the Schutzstaffel and a pea, we hear, for a mollusc (6) LIMPET
BETTER: Lurch and E.T. are suckers at sea (7) LIMPETS