Crossword solver search engine for phrases

To finish a crossword puzzle you often need a phrase that contains more than one word, answers such as 'one off (3,3)' 'bankers bonus (7,5)' or 'open-door (4-4)' come to mind. Finding the right phrase can be difficult, which is where this search engine for phrases helps.

Rather than presenting a list of thousands of phrases arranged in order of letter pattern (enumeration) we have put all the phrases into a database so they can be searched easily. We have also added many clues, which means you can search by clue too, using any significant word from the crossword clue.

We have tried to make the site intuitive to use, but we are open to suggestions, so if you find anything that you think could be improved please let us know.

If you know other phrases that don't show in our results we would be delighted to add them, please use this form to send additions or updates.

Our crossword phrase database

Putting thousands of phrases into a database doesn't sound too difficult. We found a number of issues that had to be resolved, in particular how to handle hyphens and apostrophes, and how to refer to the pattern of letters that is used by crossword setters to indicate how many letters are in the words of the answer.

The rules we follow are . . .

Capital letters

As phrases are stored into our database we change ALL letters to lower-case. That makes database searches more efficient. When we present the results on our web pages we change them to all upper-case, just how most people write them into crosswords.


Apostrophes are always omitted, for example, clue: maternal downfall (7,4) answer phrase mother's ruin. There is obviously no space to write the apostrophe into the crossword grid, it would be written mothers ruin, so we standardised on that for the database and always omit apostrophes.


In English, the hyphen is use to join words that form a compound word, for example one-off, hard-to-please or backdoor-route. It's easy to tell whether or not the words should be joined by a hyphen, you ask whether each word could stand on its own without the other. In all these example the words have to stand together for the sentence to make sense.

In the database at we decided that we had to store hyphens, because many crossword answers actually show the hyphen in their letter pattern. For example . . .




In many cases we included the same answer with and without the hyphen in case you searched without it.

Crossword clues

During initial testing we realised that it would be useful to be able to search by significant words from crossword clues. Adding clues has added significantly to the time and effort needed to produce our database of phrases for crossword puzzles because we did not want to use previously-published clues so as to avoid copyright-infringement. This means that every clue in our database had to be devised and written. In the course of thinking about clues our respect for the setters of crosswords has gone up enormously, it is not easy to write concise clues that can be solved. If you would like to suggest a clue please do, there is a link that can be accessed against every phrase in our answers page. The link automatically tells us which phrase the clue is for so it saves you time having to type the phrase.

What to call (1,2,3-4)

After crossword clue the setter tells you how many letters are in the word or words of the answer, what does one call that collection of numbers? We decided that letter pattern was a good name. While searching the internet we're also found it referred to as enumeration.

Proper nouns and names of people

Names of cities and countries are included, but not capitalised. Names of people are more difficult to characterise. On an arbitrary basis we decided to include names of some historical figures, but exclude the names of living and recently-deceased people and celebrities. That means you will not find Ted Heath, Margaret Thatcher or Gordon Brown in our database, but you will find William Shakespeare. The decision to include or exclude was made by our editor on the merit of each name. We are happy to consider any names for inclusion.

Names of movies, films and television programmes.

These are ALL excluded, but we're happy for our users to tell us they want them included.

Foreign words and phrases.

These are ALL excluded, but we're happy for our users to tell us they want them included.

How we generated our database of phrases

In two words - hard graft!

Every phrase in our database has been reviewed by a real person, not computer generated. The phrases have been entered after making reference to numerous websites and search engines. However, the main tool used was a human brain and computer keyboard. The brain is a fantastic word-association machine - how does this help?

Here is a typical database word-entry session, starting with the word punch

Thinking laterally about punch led to the following phrases

punch up
punch drunk
punch tape
punch tapes
punch the clock
knocking-off time
punch ticket
punch on the nose
punch card
punch-down block

As you review the list above you can almost see the brain cogs whirling around, that's how it was done, phrase by phrase, adding appropriate clues at the same time.

Copyright policy

The owner and operator of and makes strenuous efforts to avoid copyright infringement. Only minor extracts from published works are included in these websites, and attribution is always given. Extracts are used for illustration, for example where a particularly impressive clue has been found the clue, answer and source might be quoted as an example of the setters' art. This is intended only as a quotation for critical review.

Phrases or words of the English language that are in everyday use cannot be subject to copyright otherwise the person who tried to copyright 'bad hair day' would have the impossible task of trying to enforce their copyright on almost everyone in the UK. On the other hand, crossword clues are created works that have been written specifically by a setter. ALL the clues in our database have been created individually, solely for use on this website. Alan Chard claims the moral right to be identified as the author of each and every clue presented. He does not and cannot claim to have created any of the words or phrases on this website.


If any author claims copyright to anything that appears on this site then they are requested to contact us immediately and we will take action to remove any contentious material. We will need full details of the source of the original work and where it appears on this website. Please do not ask us to remove individual words or phrases that are in common use in the English language or appear in any dictionary or theraurus of the English language because these are already well-known words.