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list of cubing terms

Here is a glossary of common cubing terms explained, cubers use a lot of terms that are not easy for anyone else to understand, in this article I attempt to explain some of the most common ones.


A +2 is a penalty given to a competitor after a solve, the most common reason is for the puzzle being one move off solved at the end of the attempt.

Other possible reasons:

  1. Starting with the cube off the mat
  2. Incorrect timer start
  3. Touching the cube while starting the solve (or the cover during BLD)
  4. 15-17 seconds of inspection
  5. Touching cube after stopping timer but not applying any moves.
  6. Not fully releasing the cube from hands when stopping the timer
  7. Incorrect timer stops


Technically should be 3x3x3 but most people just say 3x3 and pronounce it 3by3, this is the original famous puzzle and the most popular cube puzzle.



AfR is short for African record - the fastest official time by someone from the continent of Africa

Can also refer to ranking e.g. AfR21 means 21st fastest in the continent



An algorithm is a sequence of moves that move specific pieces on the cube. Competitors memorize many different algorithms so that they can solve cubes faster, by avoiding having to repeat many different algorithms.



AsR is short for Asian Record - the fastest official time by someone from the continent of Asia

Can also refer to ranking e.g. AsR21 means 21st fastest in the continent



AUF is short for Adjust U face, where you have to turn the top layer to finish the solve.



Most events at official WCA competitions consist of an average of 5 solves where the best and worst time is eliminated and the mean of the middle 3 is calculated and ranked.

Here we have an example average (featuring my PR single), unfortunately my PR single doesn’t count towards the average so is put in brackets and ignored, as is the worst time in the average too.






=10.50 average

Beginners method

Beginners method is the basic method to solve a cube that most people start off with, there are many variations of beginners method but they usually consist of solving a cross, then the first layer, then the second layer and then some way of solving the last layer using only a few algorithms repeated many times

My beginners method tutorial


Short for Blindfolded, where you have to solve a cube blindfolded after memorizing it.



Usually refers to the center caps which are pieces that fit on the center, removing them reveals the tensioning mechanism of the cube. On some cubes, the piece design features caps on corners and edges too.



The state the cube is in before doing the algorithm required to solve it



The pieces in the middle of each side of a cube or other twisty puzzle with centers


Stands for Cross, F2L, OLL, PLL, most of the top speedcubers use this method with some minor variations, the full method requires memorizing 57 OLL algorithms, 21 PLL algorithms and intuitively being able to solve corner and edge pairs at the same time so you are not just solving the first layer and then the second layer. Cubers usually start by learning 2 Look OLL and PLL which uses less algorithms.



An algorithm of the form A B A’

Example: (R U2 R') (R' F R F') (R U2 R')


An algorithm of the form A B A’ B’

Example: (R' D' R) (U) (R' D R) (U')

Competitor card

When you arrive at an official competition, you will usually be given a card telling you which groups you are competing in and also which groups they want you to help judge, run or scramble for.



The part inside the cube where the centers are connected to.


Core stripping

Where the core of the cube no longer functions properly, usually meaning the screws can come out easily and make the cube collapse.


Corner cutting

Where a move can still be done despite another layer being significantly misaligned, this is usually tested by misaligning the U layer and attempting to still turn the R layer.



The pieces on the outside of the cube shown in the image, the term ‘corner’ refers to the whole piece which will consist of 3 different colours.


A box designed to hide the cube before inspection time starts, at a competition, the scrambler will put the scramble cube in a cover with the scorecard, a runner will then take it to the judge who will remove the scorecard and put the cover and the cube face down on the mat.


Continental record - the fastest time by someone from a particular continent

Can also refer to ranking e.g. CR21 means 21st fastest in the continent



The first step of the CFOP method and most beginners methods, the cross is solved when the 4 edges next to a particular centre are positioned correctly.


Often used to refer to any twisty puzzle, regardless of actual shape



Someone who solves or plays with cubes



Playing with cubes



The time you must solve the puzzle in, in order to be allowed to complete the full 5 solves of an average, your first 2 attempts are used, if you fail to achieve a time under the cut-off in the first 2 attempts then you will not be allowed to complete a full average of 5


Volunteers recognised by the WCA, they are responsible for ensuring the competitions runs smoothly and dealing with any incidents, an official competition must have a delegate present.



A social media chat app that is widely used by the speedcubing community, you must be over 13 to use it. discord server

UKCA discord server


Short for ‘Did Not Finish’, where the competitor fails to solve the puzzle or an incident causes the solve to become invalid



Short fot ‘Did Not Start’, the solve attempt never starts, usually either because the competitor chooses not to or because they didn’t make cut-off


Edge pieces

Pieces on the outside of the cube, referring to both the two colours on the piece shown in the picture


Short for European Record, the fastest time achieved by someone from the continent of Europe.

Can also refer to ranking e.g. ER21 means 21st fastest in the continent



The 2nd step of the CFOP method, Stands for ‘First 2 Layers’, once the cross is solved, the solver must solve the first and second layer at the same time by finding corner and edge pairs and inserting them both together.

F2L introductory tutorial


One side of the cube



Ways of optimising the turning of the cube by using specific fingers for turning a certain layer in an algorithm.



What you consider to be your overall average solving time for a particular cube.



Each event is split into different groups so that not everyone is competing at the same time, if there are 120 competitors, there may be 6 groups each called up one at a time to submit their cubes and compete, when you are not competing you are encouraged to help judge the other groups



Identification number, this is on your competitor card


Inspection time

Once the cover is released and the cube is revealed, the competitor has up to 15 seconds to look at the cube before starting the timer.

The judge is expected to give a warning when 8 seconds and 12 seconds of inspection time is used.



Each solve must be overseen by a judge who will wait for the competitor to be ready before releasing the cover and starting inspection time, once the solve has started the judge must watch the solve to ensure no cheating takes place and then record the time once the attempt is finished.

How to judge


Each cube is split into different layers, a 3x3 has 3 layers and beginners will solve one layer at a time.


Where the cube locks in place temporarily so a turn cannot be made, this can ruin a solve.



Planning the next steps of your solve while doing the current step

Doing this effectively is what separates very fast speedcubers.


Short for lubricant, liquid or gel that can speed up or slow down the cube, or simply alter the feel of it.

Lubricants collection


The timer is put on top of a mat so that when the cube is dropped it lands of the mat and not the table, they are meant to reduce damage to the cube from drops. Different cube brands have released their own mats.



The way of writing down moves on the cube, solution guides will usually use notation to teach algorithms and scrambles will have such notation


Short for National Record, the fastest time achieved by someone from a specific country.

Can also refer to ranking e.g. NR21 means 21st fastest in the country

WCA list of recognised countries


Short for North American Record, the fastest time achieved by someone from the continent of North America

Can also refer to ranking e.g. NAR21 means 21st fastest in the continent



Oceanic Record, the fastest time achieved by someone from the continent of Oceania

Can also refer to ranking e.g. OcR21 means 21st fastest in the continent



Short for one-handed, where the cube must be solved with just one hand.



Short for Orientation of the Last Layer, the penultimate step in the CFOP method, it requires getting the cube so that the top face is solved but the pieces are not necessarily in the right place yet.







2 look OLL tutorial

Full OLL


A special case that can happen on certain puzzles such as 4x4 and Square-1 which is not solvable with the normal algorithms, it usually requires a long algorithm to solve


Short for personal best, overall fastest time you have achieved, including both results at home and in competitions



Short for personal record, fastest time you have achieved at an official WCA competition



Coloured parts of the cube



Short for Permutation of the Last Layer, this is the last step of the CFOP method and will result in the cube being solved.

2 look PLL tutorial

Full PLL


When pieces fall out of the cube but no piece is damaged, the cube is not broken and can be reassembled.

Pop fixing tutorials


Used to solve big cubes by first solving centers, then the edges, effectively reducing the cube into a 3x3.

Centers solved.


You have to register for all UK competitions on the world cube association website at least 4 days before the competition or before registration is filled (whichever is sooner), you must also check-in at the competition itself to confirm you have arrived and collect your competitor card.



Where you have to take your fingers off the cube and regrip the cube in a different position. Cubers seek to avoid this in speedsolving as it wastes time.



Turning the whole cube

Advanced notation


Another speedsolving method which involves solving a 1x2x3 block on one side and then another 1x2x3 block on the opposite side, you then have to solve the top layer corners with CMLL before finishing the cube off with only M and U moves

M = a turn of the middle layer, so in effect R L’ x’


Person who takes the cube and scorecard in the cover to the judge

How to be a runner


Short for South American Record, the fastest time achieved by someone from the continent of South America.

Can also refer to ranking e.g. SAR21 means 21st fastest in the continent



Card which your solve times will be recorded on


Messing up the cube, at official competitions there are official computer generated scrambles which must be used, most cubers will also use computer generated scrambles on a timer app when practicing.





The competitor usually has 5 attempts, the fastest solve time recorded of those 5 attempts is the single.



The recognised goal of the puzzle, usually to get all the same colours on each side, most cubes will come solved when you buy them.



Attempting to solve the cube as quickly as possible



A solve that is under x amount of time.



Underneath the centre caps, the cube will usually have screws, loosening these will usually make the cube faster and more flexible but may increase the risk of pops, tightening them will usually make the cube slower and more controllable but reduce flexibility and corner cutting.

Time limit

The maximum time you are allowed to spend solving the cube, after which the attempt will finish and the time recorded as DNF



The device used to record solving time, it has two pads which mean that both your hands must be on the pads before the timer starts, the timer starts once both hands are released and stops once both hands are put back on the pads

Official timer used in competitions


Other timers


Turns per second - the average speed a cuber is turning the cube at



Short for unofficial world record, this is the fastest time achieved by anyone at any time, obviously people may be skeptical if someone claims a time that is far faster than their official results. The list of unofficial world records also features many puzzles which are not WCA official events.

Also known sometimes as WB (world best)

List of unofficial world records


Stands for World Cube Association - this is the official governing body for all recognised speedcubing competitions.


WCA Regulations

The official regulations governing how competitions should be run.

WCA Regulations


Short for World Record, the fastest time achieved by someone from anywhere in the world.

Can also refer to ranking e.g. WR21 means 21st fastest in the world.



Short for YouTube Unofficial World Record, the fastest time achieved by anyone in the world recorded on YouTube.



Another big cube method which involves solving the cross while solving centres to improve lookahead and make 3x3 stage faster.



Another speedsolving method which involves fixing ‘bad’ edges and solving a line on the bottom at the start so the rest of the cube can then be solved with only R, U and L moves.