OBE is often the answer to the crossword clue
[U.K award] or [It’s an honour: Abbr.]

Alan Turing’s OBE, an [Honor bestowed by HRH]
Queen Elizabeth in 1945 for his contribution to the war effort. Stolen from a school archive in 1984, it was only recently recovered. Image via Elektrik Fann

The title of Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, or OBE, is bestowed upon about 500 citizens a year.

An [Eng. honor since 1917], OBE was an [Award created by King Geo. V] in 1917 to recognize non-military contributions during World War I.

Today, the [Decoration from Eliz. II] is an [Award bestowed by a queen: Abbr.] or other senior member of the Royal Family. According to gov.uk, it’s

“awarded for having a major local role in any activity, including people whose work has made them known nationally in their chosen area.”

Even outside puzzle grids, the award is written in the British style, as “OBE,” as opposed to “O.B.E.” Similarly, it often turns up both in and out of crosswords in connection to celebrities receiving the [UK decoration]. For instance, it’s an

  • [Honour given to Joan Collins: Abbr.]
  • [Honour for Gordon Ramsay, for short], and
  • [Award accepted by J. K. Rowling and turned down by C. S. Lewis]

OBE: Crossword Solving Tips

  • Note in those clues the spelling of “honour,” hinting that the answer is probably somehow British.
  • And solvers can grok that the answer is likely an abbreviation thanks to hints in the clues like “Abbr.,” “for short,” and even–

Other OBE Honorees

ELVIS Costello, born Declan Patrick MacManus, who named himself after [The King]

  • KEIRA Knightly, [Benedict’s “The Imitation Game” co-star]
  • KYLIE Minogue, who shares her first name with [One of the Jenner girls]
  • EWAN McGregor, the [Obi-Wan portrayer]. So in fact he’s an OBI ([__-wan Kenobi] with an OBE.
  • Vivienne Westwood, who notably went commando during the ceremony.

The widely “spread” photo of Westwood in the slideshow below–which could garner the [Online heads-up], NSFW–was also worthy of appearing under the heading of “newsflash.”)

Apparently it was no biggie: Westwood was later made a DAME, like [Agatha Christie or Maggie Smith].

MacGregor accepted his award dressed in a KILT, which is [Traditional wedding wear, for some]. Unlike Westwood, McGregor provided no visual evidence of whether he went “True Scotsman” when he received his honor.

Embed from Getty Images

Still, not everyone was happy to receive this [Award for a lord?: Abbr.], making the OBE the

Tips and Tricks for OBE as a Crossword Answer

Tip: Abbreviation Hints

Clues for OBE may suggest the answer is an abbreviation by employing the letter Abbr., as in [2007 honor for Hugh Laurie: Abbr.].
Or, more sneakily, by including abbreviations , as in [U.K. award], [Eng. title], and [Honor from Queen Eliz.].

Tip: Acronym Hints

Clues may hint that the answer is an acronym by describing it as [Knighthood letters].
Alternatively, acronym answers often include acronyms or initials in the clues. Note how subtly that’s done in [Award accepted by J. K. Rowling and turned down by C. S. Lewis]

Tip: British Reference Hints

The British spelling in a clue like [It’s an honour: Abbr.] signal the answer might relate to the U.K. and members of the British Commonwealth.


Clues for OBE rarely employ any wordplay. Still, [“Most Excellent” U.K. award] might go over some solvers’ heads as [Something you might kneel for in order to pick up: Abbr.].

Other noteworthy clues: