Speed Cubing Terms Explained

Speed Cubing Terms Explained

Ari Ari
5 minute read

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Ever wondered what terms like "corner cutting", "tension" and "squan" mean? Here's our list of common speed cubing terms explained.

3x3, 4x4, Squan, OH...

These are common cubing terms for World Cube Association, or WCA events.

Abbreviation Full Name
2x2, 3x3, 4x4, 5x5... etc Same as abbreviation
Squan, Sq1 Square-1
Mega Megaminx
OH One Handed
Pyra Pyraminx
3BLD, 4BLD, 5BLD 3x3 Blindfolded, 4x4 Blindfolded, 5x5 Blindfolded
FMC Fewest Moves Challenge
MBLD Multi Blind (Multiple 3x3s Blindfolded)
Big Cubes Refers to puzzles larger than 3x3

Corner Cutting

Corner cutting is how much a puzzle can make a turn before completing a previous turn. For instance, turning the U or upper layer 45° then turning R or right layer 90° clockwise on most modern cubes will cause the U layer to snap" or cut the corner. Modern puzzles can cut extreme angles, however the amount a puzzle can corner cut is heavily linked to the tension (see below), the tighter the tension the less it is able to corner cut, the looser the more it is able to.


A "pop" is when a piece of a puzzle is dislodged and is removed from the puzzle. This can occur with edge pieces on 3x3s, although may be more common with larger NxN puzzles.

According to article 5 of the World Cube Association regulations, "if a puzzle defect occurs during an attempt", including a pop, "the competitor may choose to either repair the defect and continue the attempt, or to stop the attempt". This means if a pop occurs in an official competition, you are permitted to find the piece that put it back into your puzzle and continuing solving.

To prevent popping, we advise checking your tensions, ensuring that they are not too loose and keeping your cube lubricated with a quality speed cube lubricant. Most modern puzzles can work at tighter tensions without sacrificing performance in regard to corner-cutting.


A lockup is when two or more pieces get caught on each other, enough so that turning becomes impossible. This can occur on older puzzles, that have more "square" piece design, but can also happen on newer puzzles with looser tensions. Internal lockups, lockups that occur on pieces that are within the cube, not visible without disassembly, also commonly occur on puzzles such as 4x4 and 6x6. These puzzles have a hidden fifth layer than can get caught on other pieces. To reduce the chances of lockups, using the most recent cubes and making sure that your tensions are not too loose will help in preventing lockups.

Plastic Color

Refer to our plastic color article here.


  • Magnets increase stability by adding a slight weight increase which in turn promotes a smoother turning feel
  • A dramatic increase in turning accuracy is the reason why most speed cubers love magnets
  • Cost-effective. Magnetic speed cubes are typically not much more than the non-magnetic counterpart

Refer to our magnets explained article here.

Turns Per Second

A common way to measure and quantify how quickly you turn, calculated by number of turns ÷ number of seconds.

CFOP and its steps

CFOP is currently the most popular speed cubing method for 3x3, and is also commonly used to solve big cubes. 

Each letter corresponds to a step of the puzzle, Cross, F2L (first two layers), OLL (orientation of the last layer) and PLL (permutation of last layer).

We recommend checking this playlist from J Perm to learn CFOP, with tutorials for F2L, OLL and PLL.

Roux and its steps

Roux, an alternate speed solving method proposed by Gilles Roux in the early 2000s, is known for its efficiency and low move count by comparison to the CFOP method. However, it is currently far less popular than the CFOP method, although a number of world records and continental records have been set with this method on 3x3.

We recommend checking out SpeedCubeReview's complete Roux method tutorial if you would like to learn the Roux method.

Other 3x3 Methods

Other 3x3 methods include but are not limited to ZZ, and Petrus. There are numerous other methods that are far less popular and less developed.

Premium/Setup Puzzle

A puzzle setup by a seller, usually to fix uneven tensions, lubricating both the core and pieces to reduce spring noise and to bring out that bit of extra performance in a puzzle.

We offer three types of premium puzzles, Supernova, Cosmic, and UniCube, all with their characteristics and price points to fit your budget. Read more here.

Some of our most popular premium puzzles include


If you would like to learn even more terms, we recommend checking this series of videos from J Perm, with even more speed cubing terms explained.

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