The Anatomy of a Puzzle: Defining Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces

Jigsaw puzzles: hours upon hours of fun (or torture depending on the puzzle) for solo or group entertainment. 

Okay, but what is a jigsaw puzzle, really? Activate: define puzzle.

Jigsaws are a puzzle consisting of tiling pieces. Each piece of the puzzle interlock together, and when assembled, produce a completed picture. The pieces themselves are often irregularly shaped, adding to the challenge of completing the puzzle.

What Are Puzzle Pieces Called?

Puzzle shapes come in various sizes and puzzle cuts. You may be working on a puzzle with no edges, like one with a unique puzzle shape, such as an animal.

There are others, like a circle jigsaw puzzle, that have edges but aren't as obvious. These are the outermost pieces of a puzzle and may be more difficult to ascertain since they likely don’t have a straight cut.

We’ve asked around and gathered some of the common terminologies for the outer puzzle pieces for both traditional rectangle puzzles and the more unique ones.

Various descriptors for the outermost pieces of a puzzle:

  • Edge pieces
  • Border pieces
  • Outside pieces
  • Outer pieces
  • The side pieces 
  • The flat ones

Then, there are the jigsaw puzzle shapes most often referred to as the corner pieces. Some will group these pieces with the other outer pieces, while others will keep them in a category of their own. 

More Puzzle Piece Names

Now that we have the external puzzle parts addressed, let’s dive into the internal jigsaw puzzle piece shapes. The proper term for the rounded tab on a puzzle piece is interjambs, while the hollowed-out space is called blanks. 

But, as you might have guessed, the exterior pieces aren’t the only parts of a puzzle with multiple names. 

The other pieces of jigsaw puzzles have been referred to as: 

  • Knob and Socket
  • Innies and Outies
  • Boot
  • Spade
  • Castle or House
  • Narp
  • Nerp
  • Nubbin

Overall, we’ve gathered that jigsaw puzzle piece names vary from person to person. The puzzle pieces themselves are a puzzle of names. 

What’s in a name, anyhow?