Cryptic Quip: A short message written using a single letter substitution cipher (each letter in the alphabet has been replaced by a different letter). Use your wits and a few tips and tricks to crack the code and decipher the message.
Alice Jones’ Top Tips for Solving a Cryptic Quip
- Punctuation: Apostrophes, commas and question marks are your friends.
- If a word reads JAGM’L, you can be pretty sure that L=S. If the word reads MAFU’CF it’s a little harder, but it narrows it down. Maybe CF=VE or maybe CF=RE
- A comma before a three letter word could be a clue that you’re dealing with a conjunction (and or but, probably)
- If there’s a ? at the end of the sentence there’s a good chance you’re looking for a WH (WHY, WHEN, WHAT, WHO) word at the beginning of the sentence (although it could be HOW, so be careful).
- Look for patterns: There are certain beginnings and endings that repeat themselves
- TH starts a lot of common words (the, that, then, they and many more).
- Double letters. Not all of the letters in the english alphabet are used side by side. So you can use that to rule out a lot of possibilities.
- Common endings. How many times have I used ING in these tips? If you see the same 3 letter ending in your puzzle, you may be looking at INGs. (common 2 letter endings are ED and ER)
- E is the most common letter you’ll find in your encoded messages, (followed by, t, s, d, n, r, and y).
- I don’t like to rely too heavily on this, since the ratios can be all sorts of screwy in a short quote, but if you’re really stuck and you have to guess, then these letters might be a safer bet than z, q or j.
- Remember your one and two letter words
- Small words are the best. A single letter can only be one or two words, usually ‘a’ or ‘I’ (unless there’s a ‘.’ after it, then I guess it could be an initial. See the section on punctuation above)
- Don’t try to solve it one word at a time.
- This is the most important tip. If you try to solve it one word at a time, you’ll never crack the code. You need to make guesses and eliminate wrong answers and you do that by checking your guess against all the words in the puzzle.
Cryptic Quips for you to try:
Have fun puzzling out the solutions for yourself!