A puzzle is a game, problem, or toy that tests a person's ingenuity or
knowledge. In a puzzle, the solver is expected to put pieces together
in a logical way, in order to arrive at the correct solution of the
puzzle. There are different genres of puzzles, such as crossword
puzzles, word-search puzzles, number puzzles, or logic puzzles.
Puzzles are often created to be a form of entertainment but they can
also arise from serious mathematical or logistical problems. In such
cases, their solution may be a significant contribution to
5 History of Jigsaw Puzzles
6 History of other puzzles
7 Organizations and events
8 See also
10 External links
The 1989 edition of the
Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary dates the word
puzzle (as a verb) to the end of the 16th century. Its first
documented use (to describe a new type of game) was in a book titled
The Voyage of Robert Dudley...to the West Indies, 1594–95, narrated
by Capt. Wyatt, by himself, and by Abram Kendall, master (published
circa 1595). The word later came to be used as a noun.
The word puzzle comes from pusle, meaning "bewilder, confound", which
is a frequentive of the obsolete verb pose (from Medieval French
aposer) in the sense of "perplex". The use of the word to mean "a toy
contrived to test one's ingenuity" is relatively recent (within
Puzzles can be divided into categories. For example, a maze is a type
of tour puzzle. Some other categories are construction puzzles, stick
puzzles, tiling puzzles, transport puzzles, disentanglement puzzles,
lock puzzles, folding puzzles, combination puzzles, and mechanical
A chess problem is a puzzle that uses chess pieces on a chess board.
Examples are the knight's tour and the eight queens puzzle.
Lateral thinking puzzles, also called "situation puzzles"
Mathematical puzzles include the missing square puzzle and many
impossible puzzles — puzzles which have no solution, such as the
Seven Bridges of Königsberg, the three cups problem, and three
Mechanical puzzles such as the
Rubik's Cube and Soma cube
Metapuzzles are puzzles which unite elements of other puzzles.
Paper-and-pencil puzzles such as Uncle Art's Funland, connect the
dots, and nonograms
Also the logic puzzles published by Nikoli: Sudoku, Slitherlink,
Kakuro, Fillomino, Hashiwokakero, Heyawake, Hitori, Light Up, Masyu,
Number Link, Nurikabe, Ripple Effect, Shikaku, and Kuromasu.
A puzzle box is a puzzle that can be used to hide something —
jewelry, for instance.
Rubik's Cube and other combination puzzles can be stimulating toys for
children or recreational activities for adults.
Sangaku (Japanese temple tablets with geometry puzzles)
Sliding puzzles (also called sliding tile puzzles) such as the 15
Puzz-3D is a three-dimensional variant of this type.
Spot the difference
Word puzzles, including anagrams, ciphers, crossword puzzles, Hangman
(game), and word search puzzles. Tabletop and digital word puzzles
include Bananagrams, Boggle, Bonza, Dabble, Letterpress (video game),
Perquackey, Puzzlage, Quiddler, Ruzzle, Scrabble, Upwords, WordSpot,
and Words with Friends.
Wheel of Fortune (U.S. game show)
Wheel of Fortune (U.S. game show) is a game
show centered on a word puzzle.
Solutions of puzzles often require the recognition of patterns and the
adherence to a particular kind of ordering. People with a high level
of inductive reasoning aptitude may be better at solving such puzzles
than others. But puzzles based upon inquiry and discovery may be
solved more easily by those with good deduction skills. Deductive
reasoning improves with practice.
Puzzle makers are people who make puzzles.
Some notable creators of puzzles are:
David J. Bodycombe
History of Jigsaw Puzzles
Main article: Jigsaw puzzles
Jigsaw puzzles are perhaps the most popular form of puzzle. Jigsaw
puzzles were invented around 1760, when John Spilsbury, a British
engraver and cartographer, mounted a map on a sheet of wood, which he
then sawed around the outline of each individual country on the map.
He then used the resulting pieces as an aid for the teaching of
After becoming popular among the public, this kind of teaching aid
remained the primary use of jigsaw puzzles until about 1820.
The largest puzzle (40,320 pieces) is made by German game company
Ravensburger. The smallest puzzle ever made was created at
LaserZentrum Hannover. It is only five square millimetres, the size of
a dust grain.
History of other puzzles
By the early 20th century, magazines and newspapers had found that
they could increase their readership by publishing puzzle contests,
beginning with crosswords and in modern days sudoku.
Organizations and events
There are organizations and events that cater to puzzle enthusiasts,
National Puzzlers' League
Puzzlehunts such as the
Maze of Games.
List of impossible puzzles
List of Nikoli puzzle types
^ Kendall G.; Parkes A.; and Spoerer K. (2008) A Survey of NP-Complete
Puzzles, International Computer Games Association Journal, 31(1), pp
^ History of Jigsaw Puzzles The American Jigsaw
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Puzzle
Wikibooks has a book on the topic of: Puzzles
Look up puzzle in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
The puzzle archive of the rec.puzzles newsgroup
Puzzles at DMOZ