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The Ultimate Crossword Word-Phrase Finder: A Unique Source for Cruciverbalists Paperback – December 7, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Wheatmark (December 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604941723
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604941722
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,064,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Phil Sayles is a lifelong crossword puzzle fan. He compiled this list of challenging puzzle clues over a period of several years. He is a retired medical administrator, master cabinetmaker, and gardener who lives in South Carolina with his shi tzu, Sandy.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

This first edition of what may be a one of a kind crossword puzzle dictionary contains approximately one hundred forty-four thousand words that make up approximately forty-three thousand crossword phrases and some more commonly used single words. These entries have been compiled over a period of ten to twelve years dating back to the late nineties. This all started as a reference for the author's personal use and not with any intent to creating a new and different crossword dictionary, at least not at the onset. Initially, I kept a small notebook and, as it grew, I transferred it to the computer; ultimately, it has grown into a two hundred and twenty plus page dictionary of crossword phrases. This is something that is new and different to the crossword world. The usual crossword dictionary deals as a reference for single word clues, but to my knowledge, none concentrate on crossword phrases in the manner that this book does.This book is for the astute cruciverbalist (someone who enjoys or creates crossword puzzles) who is determined to complete each and every crossword puzzle.



This reference will be useful to the novice and the expert alike. Novices will use the resource frequently as they cut their teeth on increasingly more challenging puzzles. More experienced cruciverbalists will use the book to find a single answer that provides the breakthrough to fill in that last unsolved corner where "Kampuchea coin" intersects with "River in southwest Zimbabwe." Hopefully, this reference will allow all users to move up the ladder of crossword difficulty that makes our shared addiction so enjoyable.



Many of the phrase clues have been entered once as it was originally written in the crossword puzzle and a second time with the noun or verb being listed first in alphabetical order. Example:



Within a stone's throw: near
Stone's throw, within a: near
Public hall: lyceum
Hall, public: lyceum


The purpose was to make it possible to find a particular clue regardless of how the phrase would be worded in a given crossword puzzle. To make searching easier, concentrate on looking up the phrase as it is written; then if that fails, search using the second option.



There will be instances wherein you may not find the exact answer you are looking for, but your search may give you a hint as to what the correct answer may be.



My initial intent was to confine this dictionary to crossword phrases (clues), but as time went on, I started adding the more commonly used single-word clues, which minimizes the need to reference a second dictionary.



Anyone who is familiar with crossword puzzles has experienced the use of words that have had the spelling skewed to fit the puzzle. I included some misspelled entries, along with the correct spelling, especially if the misspelled word occurred on more than one occasion.



Throughout the dictionary, you will find a two-or-more-word phrase with one word underlined and no apparent answer. The underlined word within the phrase is the answer you are looking for. Example:



Clue: holly __________
Answer: holly wreath


Clue: seventh _______ stretch
Answer: seventh inning stretch


You will also find multiple-word phrases with no underlined word(s) or accompanying answers and in these instances the answer lies with any one or more of the words within the phrase depending upon a given crossword puzzle.The same applies with the names of persons throughout the dictionary in that either the first or last name may be the answer you are looking for.



References to foreign issues are common in today's crossword puzzles. The more common languages and locations referenced are Africa, British, English, French, France, German, Greek, Italian, India, Indian, Spain, and Russia. In these instances, you will find that many clues making reference to these foreign places will be listed under their respective headings, and for the most part, there will not be a second listing elsewhere, regardless of how the phrase is worded.



Other common headings are dance, fabric, goddess, music/musical, mythical Norse, Polynesian, rivers, Shakespearean, Spanish, wines, and many more. Again, entries under these headings (and others) will most likely not be found elsewhere in the dictionary.



Tips for solving crossword puzzles



  1. Above all else, be open-minded in interpreting the clue. For example, the clue "shot" could be an adjective, a verb, or a noun. To a large degree, the difficulty of a puzzle is determined by the phrasing of a clue. To prompt the answer "divine," an easier puzzle might give "heavenly" as a clue, a medium puzzle could prompt "locate water," while a tough puzzle might supply a clue like "see the future." A good crossword editor takes puzzles submitted by contributors and changes the clues to adjust the difficulty and, therefore, the entertainment value of a puzzle.


  2. Larger puzzles have themes, sometimes indicated with a title, pertaining to the longer horizontal and vertical answers. The theme is sometimes sequential pieces of a quote but can also be answers centered on a common focus like presidents, sports, or literature. The answers are often puns and occasionally share an unusual syntactic substitution such as using the number "4" to replace the letters "for" in an answer ("comfortable" becomes "com4table") or "2" to replace the letters "to."


  3. Tense matters. If the clue is written in the past tense, the answer is in the past tense. If the clue ends in "ing," the answer must agree. Editors are never sloppy about the agreement between clues and answers.


  4. Take advantage of plurals. If the clue is plural, so is the answer. You can almost always fill in the last letter of the answer as "s," the exception being Latin roots such as atrium/atria.


  5. Use answers containing common letters. There aren't many "j" words in crossword puzzles ("raja" comes to mind). I've often seen the clue "jai______," but I've never seen the clue "___alai." At the other end of the spectrum, there are lots of "e" words -- "ete" (French for "summer") and "eero" (first name of architect "Saarinen") are obscure but commonly used crossword answers because of the combination of common letters. If a "q" does happen to surface, it is almost always followed by "u" in both vertical and horizontal answers ("Qatar" is the only exception that readily comes to mind).


  6. If the clue ends with a question mark, then it is some sort of play on words. These add to the enjoyment of the puzzle by adding humor and difficulty and by forcing the solver to be open-minded and clever.


  7. Foreign language answers can be prompted in several ways. "Tia" (Spanish for "aunt") could be tipped off as "Aunt: Sp" or "Juan's aunt" or "Toledo aunt."


  8. If the clue contains an abbreviation, then the answer probably does, too. For example, "IRS employee" could be "CPA," and "ABA member" could be "atty," and "NCO" could be "sgt."

More About the Author

Phil Sayles was born and raised in Owosso, Michigan and resided there until entering college in 1953. He first worked as a medical technologist and following another stint in college, was a CEO of 2 medical centers, one in Illinois and the other in Iowa. He retired in 1991 and moved to South Carolina where he currently resides with Ellie, his King Charles Cavalier. When he first started doing crossword puzzles, he found it difficult to remember re-occurring crossword clues that were phrases not found in the standard crossword dictionary and started keeping a journal. This all started as a reference for the author's personal use and not with any intent to creating a new and different crossword dictionary, at least not at the onset. Initially he kept a small notebook and, as it grew, he transferred it to a computer; ultimately, it has grown into a two hundred and twenty plus page dictionary containing approx. forty-three thousand crossword phrase clues. The second edition which was published in Aug. 2010, is an extention of the first dictionary and consists of three hundred fifty-eight pages and approx. sixty- eight thousand phrase clues. This endeavor evolved over a period of approximately 12-13 years and he is not sure he has the patients to continue this so for all of those cruciverbalists out there, this may well be the last and final edition. At least for now, his family and friends won't have to continue questioning his sanity.

Customer Reviews

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Nancy on March 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
I have found this book to be the first and only reference I go to when I am stuck on a puzzle. Other crossword puzzle dictionaries just have words, but this book has phrases too!! All I can say is: It's about time someone thought of this.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Trey Pennington on April 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
Great book. Things that had me so puzzles, I now can get answers from an ULTIMATE source. Everyone who likes crossword puzzles needs this book!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By L. Reames on March 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
Fantastic! It is a one of a kind book that really helps me time and time again with my daily crossword puzzles. Easy to use with thousands of phrases. I bought several as presents for family members. Highly recommended!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Anita Tedder on April 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
THE ULTIMATE CROSSWORD PHRASE FINDER BOOK IS A GREAT SOURCE OF HELP WHEN DOING CROSSWORD PUZZLES. IT IS THE ONLY PHRASE FINDER BOOK I HAVE SEEN AND I RECOMMEND IT TO ALL THAT LOVE CROSSWORD PUZZLES.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By rachel on March 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book has helped me so much, I used to struggle doing the crossword puzzles but this dictionary has made doing even the weekend puzzles a breeze!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By randalman on January 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
A disclaimer: I will dally with the occasional crossword in passing, especially in mid-flight, but it's my occasional purchase of the Sunday New York Times for which I'm most grateful to have Mr. Sayles' book handy. Sure, any iPhone owner can search for a clue on the web, but it's more akin to the crossword spirit to stay in analog format (it's Sunday, for gosh sakes) rather than seek digital assistance. For a book about words, the preface is remarkably concise, and actually left me wanting for more from the author. I flipped to the back, hoping for an afterword of sorts, and instead found another page full of found poetry, including "Zaire, now: Congo; Zanjan's locale: Iran," and "Zeus, to Romans: Jove, Zhivago's love: Lara, Ziegfeld nickname: Flo". A satisfying conclusion, indeed.
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