How To Solve An Octogram

How to Solve Puzzles HQ

by Anne Robertson |
Updated on

An Octogram is a word puzzle with 16 crossword-style clues. Each answer is five letters and starts with the same letter. You must write each answer in a clockwise direction around its starting letter. The second letter in the answer could go in the gap to the top, right, bottom or left of the starting letter. The trick is to work out where the second letter for each answer should be placed.

In the example below, the starting letter is B.

Getting started

Start solving an Octogram by pencilling in a guess for each of the 16 clues after the clue, eg 1 = BRUSH, 2 = BOUND, 3 = BRIDE, 4 = BAKER, 5 = BASTE, and so on.

Next, look for two answers that share a cell in the puzzle, eg (1) and (2). Finally, find the letter that these two answers share. Here, the letter that BRUSH and BOUND share is ‘U’. Write the letter ‘U’ in the shared cell and complete the other letters of those answers in a clockwise direction.

Making progress

Watch out for adjacent clues that have more than one letter in common, eg (3) BRIDE and (4) BAKER both have ‘E’ and ‘R’. As either E or R could go in the shared cell, the correct placement for (3) and (4) needs to be corroborated by solving and placing another answer — here, that could be the answer to (2), (7) or (8).


- Just as in a quick crossword, it sometimes isn’t clear which part of speech the clue is, so you may have to work through multiple possible meanings for the answer. For example, (1) ‘Sweep’ could be a noun (meaning ‘search’ or ‘extent’) or a verb (meaning ‘brush’ or ‘clear’), and (15) ‘Sink’ could be a noun (meaning ‘basin’) or a verb (meaning ‘go down’ or ‘decline’).

- Watch out for the same letter occurring more than once within the same word, as this can make it harder to place the second letter of that word, eg (10) BALSA, with its two As or (11) BRIAR, with its two Rs.

And here’s the completed puzzle:

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