Definition: One, who is passionate about crosswords, solves crosswords or compiles crosswords.
Most words introduced to the English language were initially borrowed from Greek, Latin, French and other languages, in this case- it is exactly the other way around. Cruciverbalist is a new word, introduced to the English language somewhere in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s, probably by Stan Kurzban and Mel Rosen in their book called “The Compleat Cruciverbalist”, elaborating on how to solve, compose and sell crossword puzzles. There are some online pointers hinting the word may have appeared earlier, but I couldn’t find where.
This word is the modern juxtaposition between the Latin cruicis meaning cross, and verbum, meaning word; this is basically a back-translation to which the English suffix “ist” was added.
Why this word?
This word was suggested by a dear friend, Matt Gordner, who values, appreciates and loves the English language at least as I do and maybe even more!
But mainly, as this word proves human language to evolve, change and transform. Try looking for cruciverbalist in dictionaries published earlier than 1989- you’d come up empty-worded. Some later dictionaries however, such as the Meriam-Webster, already include the word. And why is it so? Simply because Stan and Mel, or maybe someone else, needed such a word!
With the word’s origin being quite unclear, its exact meaning too is dual- it could refer to one who is a passionate crossword solver, or to that other guy- who compiles crosswords. Either way- this person is a real logophile!
How to use the word cruciverbalist in a sentence?
Cruciverbalist is a noun representing one who is a passionate crossword solver or one who compiles crosswords.
“David is a terrible cruciverbalist! He won’t even lift his eyes from his crosswords when I talk to him!”
“David is a wonderful cruciverbalist! He just won the ‘Best Cruciverbalist of the Year’ award!”