Doing crossword puzzles is a fun way to pass the time and can also be educational. Difficult puzzles may leave you mired suddenly with no ideas on how to solve an answer or two. If you are stuck and have access to the answers, it is not generally considered cheating to look up an answer or two. There are a few notable exceptions, however.
A crossword puzzle meant to represent your work, as might be assigned for a class on occasion, should not include someone else’s answers. Cheating can be defined as misrepresenting someone else’s work as your own, so even cribbing from a fellow student to complete a puzzle would not be fair. Generally, you wouldn't have access to the answers in this example.
Additionally, the occasional crossword puzzle competition should not involve cheating. Again, in such a situation, you usually won’t have access to the answers. Running to the Internet to look things up is also unfair, since some people will complete the puzzles strictly from their own knowledge.
If you are not in a competitive or school environment and simply enjoy doing crossword puzzles, the occasional check of a word can actually be an opportunity for learning how to become better at puzzles. Treat the “cheat” as a learning experience, and memorize whatever facts or alternate word definitions you must look up. This will ultimately help you avoid the need to cheat in the future.
Some purists argue that cheating on crossword puzzles is always wrong, and that in looking up the answers, you're merely cheating yourself. It could be argued instead that cheating on puzzles done purely for fun or enjoyment can actually be an opportunity to benefit yourself by learning something new. Just don’t forget to mention that you actually did cheat a little.
It can be helpful to purchase books of crossword puzzles that have several different difficulty levels. The new fan can therefore work her way up to the more difficult puzzles. Most consider the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle to be the one with the greatest difficulty. If you are new to doing crosswords, you might want to put off working on puzzles from this paper until you are more confident in your skills. Alternately, you can work a few alongside the answers so that you understand certain questions that tend to recur.