I just skimmed a 32-page booklet called Cryptogram Solving, by M. E. Ohaver, published in 1933. It demonstrated to me that there is more to solving the kinds of cryptograms that used to run in newspapers than just applying the frequency table; but it also demonstrated to me that I don’t really want to learn how to solve them well, because it looks like you have to memorize a bunch of stuff about common digrams and other common letter patterns in English.

I also learned a new word, from one of the sample cryptogram solutions in the booklet: hiemal, which my dictionary tells me means “wintry.”

Which seemed appropriate for this week, given the arctic blast that’s hitting the US this week.

(The word comes from Latin, and is related to hibernate.)

The full plaintext of the cryptogram that included that word:

Spectral snow-whirls spiral over starlit plain, hiemal winds sough past dismal housetop, umbral clouds scud along bleak horizon, when winter comes.

I assumed that that was a quote from something, but if so, it’s not something that I can find online.

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