Four-Letter Words

Four-Letter Words

And Other Secrets of a Crossword Insider

Written by: Michelle Arnot

Additional Formats
  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780399534355
  • 240 Pages
  • TarcherPerigee
  • Adult


Crossword puzzle expert and champion Michelle Arnot has complied this irresistibly fun and entertaining manual filled with fascinating facts, puzzle miscellany, and surefire tips for puzzle solving. For devoted daily puzzlers, casual solvers, and fearless crossword warriors alike, this book offers insights into the addictive world of crossword puzzles including:

• Insider secrets, techniques, and tips
• Obscure four-letter words for scoring big points
• Advanced strategies of competitive puzzlers
• Inside stories of eccentric players and all-time champions of the grids
• Trivia, lore, and the lingo of crosswording


“One of the clearest, liveliest, most entertaining writers in the world of puzzles.”—Will Shortz

“While opening up a window into the unique world of those who write, edit, and obsessively solve crosswords, puzzle writer, editor and self-proclaimed “acrossionado” Arnot (What’s Gnu: History of the Crossword Puzzle) opens up a chest of insider secrets and solving tips worth the price of admission themselves. The title refers not to profanity, but a stable of commonly occurring crossword answers—“repeaters” to the insider—that form the foundation of nearly every standard crossword—and are cleverly highlighted, with an accompanying clue, throughout the text, equipping her readers with old-pro tools while keeping up a fleet, at times manic examination of the puzzle’s people and processes. Bouncing with little or no warning from topic to topic, Arnot comes across like a close friend finally given the green light to unload about a lifelong obsession. She wisely outlines her thoughts into chapter topics like geographical words, the occurrence of “E,” proper names, 3-letter words and crossword variations. Crossword fans should tear through this like a specimen from Monday’s New York Times, but Arnot’s enthusiasm alone could make anyone curious into a convert.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“This book isn’t just for crossword addicts. Writers of all stripes … will enjoy this crash course in oft-overlooked words… And to the people who live their lives in tiny grids and lie awake struggling to locate the perfect word in the shadows of their minds, her book will be worth more than money alone.”—The Berkshire Eagle

“Arnot focuses on the four-letter word, ‘not the naughty ones,’ she explains, ‘but the cute, oddball four-letter words that grout the grids of American crosswords.’ These essential puzzle-fillers (and their typical clues) are woven through the text and listed in a handy appendix. For non-aficionados, the book offers a breezy history of the pastime, including tidbits about such word-puzzle enthusiasts as Norman Mailer, Russell Baker and Dick Cavett, who, she writes, ‘can take the letters of your name and come up with a quip using the same letters.’ From Richard A. Cavett, she notes, he produced ‘Catch It a Rare VD.’”—Washington Post

“The book is like a crash course in crossword puzzles and should appeal equally to veteran solvers and novices.”—Booklist