The History of Word Searches

Being a relatively simple concept at its core, one might think that the word search has existed in some form for many years. Yet that’s not actually the case, as word searches are less than 50 years old, and came about well after the creation of several other popular word-related games such as crossword puzzles and scrabble.

The man credited with creating the first word search is Norman Gibat, who published them in a small local paper in Normal, Oklahoma devoted to classified listings called the Selenby Digest. The word searches instantly caught on, and soon local teachers were requesting additional copies as activities for their students. Before long they were sending them to other teachers outside their district, and word searches eventually became syndicated, appearing in newspapers around the world.

Online word searches are now plentiful, and can be tackled in any manner of different formats, from the smallest boards typical of newspapers or children’s publications, to the most gargantuan, housing dozens of words hidden amongst hundreds of letters. Some puzzles may only place words in forward positions, some only vertically and horizontally, while others also place them backwards and diagonally. In some puzzles the words will not overlap each other, meaning each letter us only used for one word or none at all, while others do overlap.

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