Free Shipping on Orders $79 or More! US Shipping Only

New items added! View Our Newest Items

Buy 3 Puzzles, Get the 4th FREE! Shop Now

Free Shipping on Orders $79 or More!

US Shipping Only

Jigsaw Puzzle vs. Puzzle: All Differences Explained

When we hear the word “puzzle”, most of us immediately think of jigsaw puzzles – pictures made up of small, jagged-edge cardboard pieces that need to be put back together. But in reality, puzzles come in a wide array of shapes and forms, with jigsaws being only the most popular ones. So, let’s take a deeper dive into puzzle terminology and finally clarify the difference between jigsaw puzzles and puzzles.

What Is the Difference Between Games & Puzzles?

Games are activities meant to help us have fun, kill time, and possibly hone our competitive spirit. Puzzles can be considered a type of game where there is a focus on problem-solving tasks and critical thinking. Whereas games can be competitive, puzzles usually aren’t (unless you count competing against yourself). A game can be played over and over again, sometimes with different outcomes, while solving the same puzzle several times can get old fast. As a rule of thumb, the easiest way to tell whether something is a game or a puzzle is to ask yourself – am I supposed to win it or to solve it?

Puzzle vs. Jigsaw Puzzle

Now that we’ve established the difference between a puzzle and a game, let’s take a closer look at puzzles – and their most popular subtype, jigsaw puzzles. While puzzles can focus on any kind of problem-solving activity – number sequencing, color matching, mechanics – jigsaw puzzles are puzzles in which a cut-up image has to be put back together. For instance, a Rubik’s cube is a puzzle, but a picture of a Rubik’s cube cut into pieces is a jigsaw puzzle. Some other examples of non-jigsaw puzzles include sudoku, crosswords, chess puzzles, anagrams, and so on. On the other hand, jigsaw puzzles can come in various shapes, too – such as ball-shaped jigsaw puzzles.

Jigsaw Puzzles vs. Puzzle Games

A puzzle game is, put simply, the same thing as a puzzle. Crosswords, word finders, sudoku, and so on. So, once again, the difference between jigsaw puzzles and puzzle games is that jigsaw puzzles are based on the action of putting a picture back together. While these puzzles are traditionally square and flat, they can come in various shapes, such as 3D puzzles, spherical, and so on.


While jigsaw puzzles are the most common, popular, and beloved type of puzzle, they are far from the only ones. And if we’ve inspired you to set aside some puzzle-solving time for yourself, why don’t you start by checking out MaryMaxim’s collection of 300-piece, 500-piece, and 1000-piece puzzles, as well as puzzle accessories.

Jigsaw Puzzle vs. Puzzle: Frequently Asked Questions

Why is a puzzle called a jigsaw?

Jigsaw puzzles are called that because of the jagged edges of pieces that used to be made using a jigsaw. Although the tool hasn’t been used to make jigsaw puzzles for a long time now, the iconic name has remained.

What makes a puzzle a jigsaw puzzle?

A puzzle is considered a jigsaw puzzle if it is comprised of many smaller pieces that form a picture or shape when put together. Usually, these pieces are irregularly shaped and form a square picture, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.

Is it jigsaw or puzzle?

While jigsaw puzzle and just puzzle are often used interchangeably to denote the same thing, they actually have different meanings. Puzzle is a more comprehensive term used to describe problem-solving activities, while jigsaw puzzles are a type of puzzle where the person needs to put together a picture.