Are "cryptarithms" the same thing as "alphametics"?

Not exactly. There is some difference.

Cryptarithms refer to a broad genre of mathematical recreations featuring arithmetical operations, in which the numbers are substituted for letters or other symbols.

Alphametics are a special set of cryptarithms in which the letters make sensible words or phrases.

For example, this puzzle with jumbled letters is a cryptarithm:

                M D Y D 
              + Y R Y R
              R B M M B

Whereas this other one

                S E N D 
              + M O R E 
              M O N E Y

is also a cryptarithm but of a special kind termed "alphametic" because its letters form words that make sense.

Cryptarithms have been so called first by M. Vatriquant in May 1931 when writing to the Belgian journal Sphinx. The term "alphametic" was coined later by J. A. H. Hunter, in 1955.

  Back to Primer