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Word Search Puzzle Games

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What are word search puzzles?:

A word search is a word game where words are hidden in a grid of letters. Other names for this type of puzzle are word find, word seek, word sleuth or mystery word puzzle. Popular with both children and adults, word search games are a good way to discover new words and their spellings, thus improving vocabulary.

The list of words to find usually appears next to the puzzle, though some puzzles may omit it. Words may run vertically or horizontally, backwards or forwards; tougher puzzles may have words running diagonally as well. Many puzzles have a theme to which all the words in the puzzle are related.

Where did word search puzzles come from?:

The word search puzzle was invented by the Spanish puzzlemaker Pedro Ocón de Oro, inventor of over 125 puzzle and word games, under the name Sopa de letras.

The first word search puzzle in the US appeared on March 1, 1968 in the Selenby Digest, a local want ad digest published in Norman, Oklahoma. Originally designed and published by Norman E. Gibat, the puzzles proved to be very popular locally and were eventually syndicated to newspapers across the country. Word search puzzles may also be published under names such as WordSeek, WordFind, and WonderWord.

What types of word search puzzles are there?:

Word search games can be played on a computer, a cell phone or PDA, or printed and solved on paper.

Sometimes, as in WonderWord, the remaining letters not used in any word within the puzzle form a hidden message. Another variation is a word search puzzle containing a word or phrase that does not appear in the word list which provides the answer to a trivia question at the bottom of the page.

Another, more challenging variation of this game is the 'snaking' type word search, a puzzle in which the words aren't necessarily in a straight line but "bend" and go in different directions.

How do I play word search puzzles online?:

The grid in an online word search puzzle is computer generated and words tend to appear in patterns. The pattern of letters will be different each time you play. These are generally basic, no-frills word search puzzles that are easy to solve. To mark a word, the player generally clicks on the first or last letter of the word and drags the mouse until they reach the end (or start) of the word. The marked word will be circled or crossed out and will disappear from the word list.

What about printed word search puzzles?:

All you need to solve these word search puzzles is a pencil or some other marking tool. Simply look for the words in the word list (if one is provided) in the pattern of letters in the grid. Printable word search puzzles are often more challenging than those played online. The grids can contain more rows/columns than can be easily displayed on a computer screen, more letters may be used, or the unused letters may contain a secret message.

How do I make my own word search puzzles?:

If you'd like to try your hand at creating your own word search puzzle, there are a number of free word search puzzle generators available online. See Free Online Word Search Puzzle Generators) for a list of sites offering free word search puzzle generators that can be used to create customized word search puzzles for educational purposes or just for fun.

Where can I find free word search puzzles?:

Right here at About Puzzles! This site offers many different word search games to play online or to print, such as Word Search Puzzles for Kids, Animal Word Search Puzzles, Holiday Word Search Puzzles and other Free Word Search Games.

Where can I buy word search books?:

If you prefer the convenience of a book, take a look at these easy Word Search Puzzles for Children or more challenging Word Search Puzzle Books for more experienced solvers.
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