08 September 2017

Word lengths in crossword puzzles

I found this interesting because I keep an ongoing record of how long it takes me to solve the daily crossword puzzle (I use the free one in the Los Angeles Times).

Although the graph is entitled "Average word length for NYTimes Crossword answers, 1994-2017," it should more properly be described as "entry length," since quite a few of the answers on the late-in-the-week puzzles are multiple-word entries.

I found this graph at the Data Is Beautiful subreddit, where the discussion thread has some interesting observations about the software puzzlemakers use in their craft.

FWIW, my worst time on a Thursday puzzle this past year occurred in one this past December which required entering the following "words" -
- which came from the following clues:
Terragona title, in detail?
Arles animal, in detail?
Toulouse trace, in detail?
Augsburg above, in detail?


  1. If you don't know of it already, you might like William Poundstone's book The Ultimate, which includes a chapter on the hardest crossword puzzles:
    I think LA Times Saturday crosswords were evaluated as the hardest "normal" puzzles (as opposed to British-style cryptic crosswords).

  2. Also, if you want a different sort of crossword challenge: https://regexcrossword.com

  3. I do the LA Times puzzles every day, and have for many, many years. My day can't start until the puzzle is done.

  4. If you have an android phone, I highly recommend the app Shortyz. Ad-free, many souces of crosswords, including the LA Times, plus some archived NYT ones


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