There's absolutely no shame in relying on a reference book. Some of the primary benefits of crossword puzzles are expanding your own knowledge and vocabulary. If you've solved all of the down clues in one cluster but one of the resulting across answers isn't a term with which you're familiar, pull your trusty Oxford English Dictionary off the shelf. You'll either find out that the word is correct and add something new to your phraseology, or you'll discover that some of your down answers need rethinking. Other reference books, like a thesaurus or encyclopedia, are equally useful. After all, if you knew every crossword answer without even trying, it wouldn't be as fun -- and you wouldn't have a new nugget of trivia to bandy about at cocktail parties.
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