Crossword vs. Scrabble: 10 Differences (With Pictures)

Crossword and scrabble together
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Do you prefer crossword puzzles or scrabble? The type of puzzles you like to solve, or are good at solving, can say a lot about you. In fact, the Digest published an article uncovering the findings of psychologists, who compared the mental abilities of scrabble and crossword champs. Reading the article got me thinking about crossword puzzles and scrabble. And I started to realize just how similar and how different these two puzzle games are. Let’s take a look at the differences.

These are 10 differences between crossword and scrabble in terms of:

  1. Who puzzlers compete against.
  2. A definite answer/solution.
  3. Portability (puzzle on the go).
  4. Clues (the overall action of the game).
  5. Knowledge of words.
  6. Complexity (ease).
  7. Cost to play.
  8. Ease of access.
  9. The grid.
  10. Age (date of creation).

What do these differences mean? Does it mean that one word puzzle game is better than the other? No, it doesn’t. These 10 differences do not take away from the enjoyment or authenticity provided by either of these puzzle games. In fact, those who thoroughly enjoy crossword puzzles usually thoroughly enjoy scrabble games too (that is certainly the case with me).

Whether you are a crossword puzzler or a scrabble puzzler at heart, it is good to know the differences between the two. If you want to dig a little deeper into the differences between crossword puzzles and scrabble, read on.

What is a Crossword Puzzle & What is Scrabble?

Crossword puzzles and scrabble are undoubtedly different games, but they have their similarities too. Before we can delve too far into the differences of crossword puzzles and scrabble, let’s take a closer look at what these games are and how they are played.

What are Crossword Puzzles?

Person doing a crossword puzzle
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Crossword puzzles are popular word puzzles appreciated by millions of people across the globe. A crossword puzzle is usually a rectangle or square grid that consists of white and black squares printed onto paper. On the grid, the black squares represent a space between words. The goal of the game is to fill in the white squares with letters that form either words or phrases. This is done by solving a list of clues. The answers to the clues are filled into the white squares, and when the entire grid is complete, the puzzle is deemed solved. 

What is Scrabble?

Scrabble is also a word puzzle in that it is based on the players’ knowledge of words. It is played by two to four players, but can be played by slightly larger groups if required. Each player or team scores points in scrabble by placing tiles, each printed with a letter of the alphabet, onto the board. The board used for the game consists of 15 x 15 squares on a grid. Each player or team is provided with a set of tiles and has to use them to form words on the grid. The letters must read left to right or in rows from top to bottom.

How Crossword Puzzles and Scrabble are Different

Now that you have a better understanding of what scrabble and crossword puzzles are, let’s take a closer look at how these two puzzle games are different. There are 10 ways that crossword puzzles and scrabble are different. Check them out below:

1. Who puzzlers compete against.

There is quite a difference between crossword puzzles and scrabble when it comes to who the puzzler (aka the) player competes against. When doing a crossword puzzle, the player competes against the puzzle itself, which is, in essence, the puzzle writer. You don’t have to complete a crossword puzzle on your own – that’s the beauty of these particular puzzles. On the other hand, when a game of scrabble is played, puzzlers (or players) compete against each other, either as individuals or as teams. 

2. A definite answer/solution.

When it comes to comparing crossword puzzles and scrabble, the solution is something to think about. Is there an answer or solution to both crossword puzzles and scrabble games? The answer is no. Crossword puzzles all have a definite answer or solution. By reading through the clues, you can figure out the solution. With scrabble, things work a little differently. Players are given a random selection of tiles from which they can create words. There is absolutely no definite guarantee that there is a solution or answer to a scrabble game. 

Heap of scrabble tiles over a scrabble board
Calimedia / Shutterstock.com

In short, scrabble introduces uncertainty, whereas crossword puzzles provide certainty.

3. Portability (puzzle on the go).

Crossword puzzle books can be bought and carried around in your car, handbag, briefcase, or similar. Scrabble, on the other hand, is a bit trickier. You need to have an opponent to play against, which means it is not easy to play on-the-go or while you are waiting alone in a queue. A crossword puzzle book is also small and lightweight, whereas a scrabble board needs to be set up (there are a board and pieces to carry around with you). It stands to reason that crossword puzzles are more portable than scrabble is.

4. Clues (the overall action of the game).

Crossword puzzle answers are derived by reading through and figuring out the provided clues. The clues and their answers are required in order to solve the puzzle. On the other hand, scrabble players need to un-jumble a collection of random letters, in an attempt to form words. Usually, there are no clues involved and there are no “answers” as such.

5. Knowledge of words.

As word games, words form a large part of both crossword puzzles and scrabble games. To play either game, you need to have an extensive knowledge of words, but there is a big difference. When playing Scrabble, you need to have knowledge of many words and how to spell them, but you do not necessarily need to know what they mean. When solving a crossword puzzle, you need to know many words and how to spell them, but that’s not all. You also need to know what the words mean. 

6. Complexity (ease).

Which is harder; crossword puzzles or scrabble? When it comes to the complexity of either of these games, it is all relative. A cryptic crossword puzzle will be harder to solve than a quick crossword puzzle, for instance. But when comparing the complexity of crossword puzzles and scrabble, you will find that scrabble is typically easier. 

Working on a crossword puzzle. A Newspaper and reading glasses
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Take, for instance, playing a game of scrabble with the whole family. Kids will have the opportunity to play by using their tiles to form words that they actually know. When doing crossword puzzles with kids, many of the clues may be too advanced, hard, or confusing for children. In the end, crossword puzzles can be considered more complex than scrabble. 

7. Cost to play.

What will your addiction to crossword puzzles or scrabble cost you? You will find a crossword puzzle featured in just about every daily local newspaper. If you already buy the newspaper every day, the crossword puzzle won’t cost you anything extra. There are also various crossword puzzle books for sale across the country at affordable prices. Scrabble, however, is quite different. You will invest in the board and tiles and will not have to pay for those items again. In the long run, It turns out that scrabble might be cheaper than crossword puzzles in the end, but crossword puzzles are far more accessible. 

8. Ease of access.

It is not too easy to access and play a game of scrabble in your lunch break – unless you have a mobile app version of the game that is. Crossword puzzles are far more accessible. If you have your own crossword puzzle book, it is always within reach. If you do not, you can just grab the most recent local newspaper, which should have a crossword puzzle printed in it. Even weekend newspapers have crosswords printed in them. And of course, there are mobile app crossword puzzle games also readily available. 

9. The grid.

The grids that crossword puzzles and scrabble games are played on are quite different. Crossword puzzles are done on a square or rectangular grid. The squares are white and black. The black squares denote a space between words. Scrabble is played on a board consisting of 15 x 15 squares. There are no set spaces along the squares as words are made up as players go (spur of the moment).

10. Age (date of creation).

White wood calendar blocks with the date December 21st
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Crossword puzzles were created by Arthur Wynne and first published on 21 December 1913. Scrabble (which was known as Lexiko at that time), on the other hand, was created by Alfred Mosher Butts in the 1930s.

What is Your Preferred Puzzle Game; Crossword Puzzles or Scrabble?

When you start to compare crossword puzzles and scrabble, you start to realize both the similarities and differences of the game. While both games are considered great for your mental health and happiness, in my opinion, it is crossword puzzles that are more of a brain workout. I personally like to puzzle over both crossword puzzles and scrabble. I find both word puzzle games highly entertaining and rewarding. What is your puzzle of choice? Scrabble or crossword puzzles? You decide!