yellow jigsaw puzzle piece


Jigsaw puzzles are a kind of game where you look for the matching pieces to come up with a complete version of an image or portrait. As I have discussed in my previous article “What is the history of Jigsaw Puzzle?”, it was first used to help children in Europe, with their geography subject by connecting all the matched pieces altogether.

Various terms are used to name those jigsaw puzzle parts, but specific or standard naming is not established and standardized until today. However, jigsaw puzzle players, or what we “dissectologists”, often used the following to describe those pieces.

Before we name our jigsaw puzzle pieces, let us first know the basic parts of the common jigsaw puzzle piece. There are two to be exact.

Here are the common terms used to describe the basic parts of a jigsaw puzzle piece:

  1. Tabs and blanks
  2. Knobs and holes
  3. Loops and sockets
  4. Keys and locks
  5. Innies and outies
  6. Male or female

As shown in the picture above, two distinct features of a common jigsaw puzzle piece are named based on their appearance.

If the side of the jigsaw puzzle piece is indented, “dissectologists” refer to it to be blank, hole, socket, lock, innies, or female.

While the bulging side is referred to as tab, knob, loop, key, outies, or male.

Now, that we know the basics let us further complicate this thing, we can classify it according to what combinations are there in all of its four sides.

Being familiar with all the colors and shapes of each jigsaw puzzle piece is one of the most common key points in solving a jigsaw puzzle. Having said that, have you ever wonder what those jigsaw puzzle pieces called? What do you call those jigsaw puzzle cuts? Below are the names we can call on each piece.

Here are the most common terms, names, or descriptions used for each jigsaw puzzle pieces:

  1. 4 tabs
  2. 3 tabs
  3. Side by side tabs
  4. Opposing tabs
  5. 1 tab
  6. 0 tabs

Well, you can also describe those shapes based on their counter parts. It works both ways any way.

Actually, there are some puzzlers in the internet that have their own names, terms and descriptions to jigsaw puzzle pieces too!

Here are some of the unique names of jigsaw puzzle pieces by puzzlers across the internet:

  • By their imagination (edge, regular, irregular, double wings, double ears)
  • By time (9 o’clock, 3 o’clock, quarter to, quarter past, 6 o’clock)
  • By crown shape orientation (up crown, down crown, right crown, left crown)
  • By balancing some shapes (square (4tabs), noner (4blanks), level (2 tabs, 2 blanks))
  • By where the tab is located (uppie, downnie, leftie, rightie)

I know that it is somehow difficult to associate those unique names with the most common types of jigsaw puzzle pieces. So, I made a table of comparisons to this in order for you to understand it more clearly.

Here is the table of comparison of some unique names and the commonly used names for frequent jigsaw puzzle pieces.

4 tabs Square
3 tabs Double ears; up crown; down crown; right crown; left crown
Side by side tabs Edge; quarter to; quarter past; 9 o’clock; 3 o’clock
Opposing tabs 6 o’clock; regular
1 tab Edge; uppie; downnie; leftie; rightie; double wings
0 tabs Noner

I hope you get the grasp on how they have associate those unique jigsaw puzzle pieces name with the most commonly used one with this. If not, you may drop a comment below so that I could explain it to you.


As a late bloomer Puzzler, I have my own naming to those jigsaw puzzle pieces, as well.

I would like to call of them as IRREGULARS!

They are indeed irregular in shapes, right? They don’t seem to have a definite shape at all. What is important is that the shapes matched and there is no missing piece, right?

Well, kidding aside, in my personal take, I would like to classify first those jigsaw puzzle pieces based on their area on the entire jigsaw puzzle table. So, here it is:

  • corner pieces
  • one siders
  • middlers

I named all those pieces that are located in the corner area as corner pieces, of course. These pieces may be grouped together to make them easier to look for. Sometimes, you may also start building your jigsaw puzzle pieces with these ones to assess what shape would fit on it next.

One siders are the pieces I find along with the frame of the whole jigsaw puzzle. The thing is, you may have confusion in which one sider piece supposedly be put on the top frame or the bottom frame, or left or right frame.

But that is not a problem but a challenge! It feels like you are in a quest to find out its purpose in your life as a jigsaw puzzler, right? Well, in my point of view, problems are not a hindrance to success but an opportunity to seek a new thrill not only in the jigsaw puzzle world but also in life. You may want to save that on your phone notes as an inspirational message from me. Just kidding!

“Problems are not a hindrance to success but an opportunity to seek
a new thrill not only in the jigsaw puzzle world but also in life.”

Ann, the late bloomer puzzler

Lastly, the middlers. If the one siders already gave us a hard time figuring out to which area they should be in, then the middlers are much more of a headache!

Middlers are jigsaw puzzle pieces that are usually found after you have completely matched the corner pieces and the one siders properly. We can say that these are the “heart” of the whole jigsaw puzzle for without these jigsaw puzzle pieces, we will not be able to complete the whole image, of course.

It is like the “heart” of our own body. Without our hearts, we are nothing. And that is another inspirational quote from me. Feel free to quote me with that. Just kidding!

Without our hearts, we are nothing.

Ann, the late bloomer puzzler

So, I am now done categorizing jigsaw puzzle pieces based on their specific area in the jigsaw puzzle board. Now, let me introduce to you how I name them according to their shapes.

To make it easier for you to understand, I will use the commonly used names of jigsaw puzzle pieces in comparing my own naming in this table.

4 tabs Four-hand octopus
3 tabs Three-hand octopus
Side by side tabs Unknown octopus
Opposing tabs Humanoid octopus
1 tab One-hand octopus
0 tabs Octopus head

Yes. I used octopus to name those jigsaw puzzle pieces cuts. I used my talent in creative thinking to compare it with those irregularly shaped jigsaw puzzle pieces. For you to understand where I am coming from, let me guide you in my creative mind, Puzzlers.

Imagine an octopus without its tentacles. You will only get an octopus head, right? Does it resemble a a jigsaw puzzle piece without any tabs on it? The answer is no, right?

The next thing you need to do is imagine an octopus head with four dents on it. There! You have now a resemblance of a jigsaw puzzle piece without tabs or zero tabs already! Maybe you will ask why did the octopus head had four dents, right? Well, the answer is pretty obvious, my dear Puzzlers. Because the octopus has no tentacles to navigate its swimming, thus bumping into some rocks under the sea. See how creative my mind is? Just kidding.

Well, the same scenario applies to one-hand, humanoid, three-hand octopus. You get the creative idea behind that now, right? I really hope you do.

Now, let me help you with the unknown octopus. It is pretty easy to explain, my dear Puzzlers. The main reason is that my creative mind is already exhausted thus, I have nothing to resemble to that particular jigsaw puzzle piece. Simple isn’t? I always make sure to leave one thing that I don’t know so that my mind won’t have a hard time thinking about such things, you know? Just kidding.

I hope you are still having some fun while reading this semi-informative, semi-entertaining jigsaw puzzle blog of mine.


To conclude, there is no correct or standardized naming of jigsaw puzzle pieces until now.

Therefore, the names of jigsaw puzzle pieces vary in which part is present and to where the specific part is located.

Again, there are 2 basic parts of a jigsaw puzzle piece, the Blank (hole/ socket/ lock/ innies/ female), and the Tab (knob/ loop/ key/ outies/male). Their names vary depending on what does a puzzler prefers to call it.

As for the specific name of each jigsaw puzzle piece, this may also depend mainly on how creative the mind of a jigsaw puzzler is. In short, it also varies. But common terms, names, or descriptions used for each jigsaw puzzle piece are present below.

  1. 4 tabs
  2. 3 tabs
  3. Side by side tabs
  4. Opposing tabs
  5. 1 tab
  6. 0 tabs


To summarize things up, here is the combined table of some commonly used jigsaw puzzle pieces name with the creative naming of other jigsaw puzzlers and the late bloomer Puzzler, me.

4 tabs SquareFour hand octopus 
3 tabs Double ears, up crown, down crown, right crown, left crownThree hand octopus 
Side by side tabs Edge ;quarter to; quarter past; 9 o’clock; 3 o’clockUnknown octopus 
Opposing tabs 6 o’clock, regularHumanoid octopus 
1 tab Edge, uppie, downnie, leftie, rightie, double wingsOne hand octopus 
0 tabs NonerOctopus head

Again, terms used to describe each jigsaw puzzle pieces depends on who is the “dissectologist” may be.


Now that you already know the commonly used names for jigsaw puzzle pieces, here are some question I have for you Puzzlers.

Do you think John Spilsbury thought about naming those jigsaw puzzle cuts over 200 years ago?

If so, then standard naming would be available by then, right? In your opinion, do you prefer a standard naming for each common jigsaw puzzle piece?

If not, would you mind to share how do you name those jigsaw puzzle pieces in your terms? Do you use your creative mind like I do in naming those jigsaw puzzle pieces?

If so, share it in the comments below to let the jigsaw puzzle community know!

I am looking forward to know what is yours!

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  1. I think there should be a distinct name for the protrusion, on a small minority of pieces, which looks like a “spade” from the suit in a deck of cards, except that it is not symmetrical. It is formed at a corner of a piece where two round holes are kind of perpendicular to each other, and, being much more distinctive than the round holes and tabs, makes puzzle pieces easer to find.

  2. Wow! I didn’t notice that there’s a puzzle piece like that as well. Maybe we can call a piece like that “the one” because it’s not so common like the others. What do you think?

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