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Am I Cheating if I Look Up the Answers to a Crossword Puzzle?

Many individuals enjoy doing crossword puzzles as a hobby and for the educational experience.
Looking up the answers to a crossword puzzle can allow the player an opportunity to learn.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2014
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Doing crossword puzzles is a fun way to pass the time and can also be educational. Difficult puzzles may leave you mired suddenly with no ideas on how to solve an answer or two. If you are stuck and have access to the answers, it is not generally considered cheating to look up an answer or two. There are a few notable exceptions, however.

A crossword puzzle meant to represent your work, as might be assigned for a class on occasion, should not include someone else’s answers. Cheating can be defined as misrepresenting someone else’s work as your own, so even cribbing from a fellow student to complete a puzzle would not be fair. Generally, you wouldn't have access to the answers in this example.

Additionally, the occasional crossword puzzle competition should not involve cheating. Again, in such a situation, you usually won’t have access to the answers. Running to the Internet to look things up is also unfair, since some people will complete the puzzles strictly from their own knowledge.

If you are not in a competitive or school environment and simply enjoy doing crossword puzzles, the occasional check of a word can actually be an opportunity for learning how to become better at puzzles. Treat the “cheat” as a learning experience, and memorize whatever facts or alternate word definitions you must look up. This will ultimately help you avoid the need to cheat in the future.

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Some purists argue that cheating on crossword puzzles is always wrong, and that in looking up the answers, you're merely cheating yourself. It could be argued instead that cheating on puzzles done purely for fun or enjoyment can actually be an opportunity to benefit yourself by learning something new. Just don’t forget to mention that you actually did cheat a little.

It can be helpful to purchase books of crossword puzzles that have several different difficulty levels. The new fan can therefore work her way up to the more difficult puzzles. Most consider the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle to be the one with the greatest difficulty. If you are new to doing crosswords, you might want to put off working on puzzles from this paper until you are more confident in your skills. Alternately, you can work a few alongside the answers so that you understand certain questions that tend to recur.

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burcinc
Post 11

@ZipLine-- Gosh! You made me feel bad!

If looking up answers to do crosswords is cheating, then I'm a cheater. But I'm not like you, I wouldn't be able to figure out some of the answers even if I thought about them for hours. And sometimes you need to figure out one answer so that you can guess the others.

If I get stuck and can't answer a question and that prevents me from completing the puzzle, I will look it up. So what if it's cheating? It's just a puzzle!

ZipLine
Post 10

@Mykol-- Yea, that's true. Just like if you were to make your own crossword puzzles and then compete with someone else to answer them! If you're going to cheat with crossword puzzles, might as well not do them at all.

For me, looking up the answers to a crossword puzzle takes the fun away. I actually like it when the puzzle is difficult and it takes me time to figure answers out. There have been a couple of times where I cheated and looked up an answer or two. But when I saw the answer, I realized I would have figured it out if I had given myself some more time. Doing the rest of the puzzle wasn't fun anymore.

ddljohn
Post 9

I absolutely agree that unless you're doing a school assignment, looking up answers to a crossword puzzle is not cheating. After all, like the article said, this is an exercise for fun and to learn something new. How can I learn if I don't know what the answer is and have no way of finding out?

Some newspapers will actually print the answers to free crossword puzzles that were printed in the paper a day or two ago. So what I usually do is I work on the puzzle and answer as much as I can. When the answers get printed in the paper, I check my answers and I look up the answers to the ones I couldn't answer. That's not cheating! I'm learning!

That's how I learned how to do crossword puzzles in the first place. Because sometimes the questions in these puzzles are not common knowledge at all.

bagley79
Post 8

I like to buy the crossword puzzle books that have the answers printed in the back. Since I am just doing this for my own enjoyment and to keep my brain active, I don't see this as cheating.

My husband sees this differently and always gives me a hard time if he sees me looking up the answer. Until he starts doing the crossword puzzles himself, I don't think he has any idea how hard some of them can be.

honeybees
Post 7

My grandma loved doing the crossword puzzles in the paper. I think this is one of the biggest reasons she even got the paper in the first place.

Over the years she became very good at it, but this took a lot of time and practice. She didn't have the internet to run to if she needed to look up an answer.

The only thing she had was a dictionary that might give her an idea of what she was looking for. I don't think she ever considered that as cheating. If she was stumped and knew she couldn't go any farther, then she would get out the dictionary and see what she could find.

Mykol
Post 6

I think it depends on the circumstances and the reason you are competing the puzzle if you are cheating or not. If this is just for your fun and enjoyment, I see nothing wrong with getting some help.

If this is for some type of competition, then you should not have any advantage that other people don't have as well.

julies
Post 5

If you are new to crossword puzzles I wouldn't recommend starting with the New York Times Sunday edition puzzle.

I only get the Sunday paper, so don't have access to their other crossword puzzles during the week. When I first started trying to complete these, I only came up with a few answers.

This left me very frustrated as I looked at this entire crossword puzzle and had no idea what the answers to the rest of the puzzle were. I gave up and bought a book with beginning level crosswords.

I don't think getting some help with crossword puzzles is cheating at all. What good does it do you, and how much have you learned if most of the puzzle is left incomplete?

anon286570
Post 4

If you knew all the answers to the crossword, what would be the point in doing them in the first place?

Vef1947
Post 3

If anon6272 means looking up an answer from a printed answer in the paper or book, I would say that would be cheating. BUT if one looks up an answer in a dictionary, or other source of information that is not connected to the puzzle directly...that, in my opinion, is NOT cheating, after all any answers we know had to be acquired from some source...

anon6272
Post 2

As a twenty-five-year New York Times crossword solver, I can assure you that the Sunday puzzles are only average in difficulty. The weekday puzzles gradually get more difficult from Monday (easiest) through Saturday (hardest.) It takes me about 1/2 hour to complete a Sunday puzzle, on average, but sometimes I don't finish the Sat. puzzle until Mon., despite its being half the size of the Sunday puzzle.

anon1882
Post 1

I don't know what all the fuss is about "cheating" on crossword puzzles...I do all kinds of them and I think all's fair in love and puzzles. After all, isn't the objective of the person who creates the puzzle by using every trick in the book to lead us astray - and - it is our job as solvers to use any trick in the book to find the usually outrageous answer. I have no sympathy for creators who yell "foul" when we use books, dictionaries, on line sites or whatever is at our disposal. So I say stop whimpering and get creating. We, as solvers, do.

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