Popular Puzzle Words

Magnifying glass on book

by Puzzles HQ |
Updated on

Puzzle editors shine a light on some words which please and perplex.

Puzzlers and puzzle editors alike know that there are some words which come up frequently in word puzzles, but almost never in real life.

Even if we have a loved one with a hobby of embroidery, who among us has given them an etui (ornamented needle case) for Christmas? How often do we watch a Western and admire how a cowboy wields his lariat (lasso)?

Hopefully, most puzzlers see this as one of the joys of a fine crossword or codebreaker — teaching you a word you might not have encountered otherwise.

Certainly, our puzzle editors all have their favourite words they’ve learned on the job...


Okapi — a ruminant mammal, of the forests of central Africa, having a reddish-brown coat with horizontal white stripes on the legs and small horns

“I’ve looked it up many times and it still feels like there’s an off-chance that it was actually just dreamt up for April Fool’s Day, and I’m a gullible fool. It feels unlikely that an animal that looks that weird isn’t more well-known.” Rebecca


Woman bored on sofa

Ennui — a feeling of listlessness and general dissatisfaction resulting from lack of activity or excitement

Like eerie, ennui is “a good puzzle word… lots of vowels for crossing over with…” Babetta


Pugnacious — readily disposed to fight; belligerent

“It makes me think of a little, very aggressive dog.” Sonia


Kepi hat

Kepi — a military cap with a circular top and a horizontal peak

“I first encountered a kepi in an arrowword, and the illustration from that puzzle is still how I picture it! I have a lot more trouble with ‘awl’ and ‘awn’ because I can never remember which one is barley and which one is a carpentry tool.” Kaylie


Gongoozle — to watch boats and activities on canals

“I can’t claim to have found this in a puzzle, but my favourite word of the week is gongoozle! A gongoozler is a person who enjoys watching activity on canals — apparently!” Christine



Ewer — a large jug or pitcher with a wide mouth

“More sheep-like? No, it’s a jug.” David

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