Puzzles, posts, news and general word-chat.

Diabolically Arcane

Bingo. You’ve reached David Astle dot com, a carnival of words, puzzles and more words. Welcome aboard, and have fun.

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WoW: Hanyauku

11 December, 2017

HANYAUKU - the act of tiptoeing across hot sand so as not to burn your feet. [Bantu word that we need in English.] This time of year, you'll see heaps of hilarious hanyauku, including in my new Gargantuan.

Clues of Repute - 2017 [2]

7 December, 2017

Same deal as the other week - an octet of high-octane clues plucked from British puzzles through the year. No easier, these eight will need your grey matter, and your collective wisdom to boot.

Then, when solved, can you compose alternative clues for the same eight solutions? For one clue, you will need to bear in mind its culprit...

1. Lackey evidently revealing thighs? (6) [Times 10985]

2. Clothes off, as rubber will do (4,4) [Anax]

3. Hole opening in road, careful to go round it (6) [Paul]

4. Old enough to be a model (7) [Sunday Times 1074]

5. Tempt government to swap sides (4) [Arachne]

6. Ray, I assumed, picked up a generous invitation (2,2,5) [Times 11020]

7. Number one from George, John and Paul's dismal (6) [Paul]

8. The same two places to find students (7) [Picaroon]

Brainwaves, great saves and new clues below.

WoW: Isabelline

4 December, 2017

ISABELLINE - pale grey-yellow or parchment colour. [Several theories over origin, inc Isabel of Austria, the daughter of Philip II of Spain, who vowed to keep the same undergraments until Ostend fell to Spain's seige in 1601. Ended up taking three years....] Champagne - versus grubby knickers - can be dubbed isabelline.

WoW: Aoudad

27 November, 2017

AOUDAD [ow-uh-DAD] - short-coated sheep with a long neck ruffs, found in north African drylands [From Berber via French, udad] AOUDAD make a cameo in my new Gargantuan for the baa-baa's vowel string, as does BAAING.

Clues of Repute - 2017

23 November, 2017

In case you missed the memo, I'm off the grid till Christmas, traipsing Bosnia and Herze...Herza...um, thereabouts. But that's no cause for the blog to skive, with a delectable serving of clues handpicked from 2017. 

In the first of four rounds, see how many you can solve off the bat, hinting at your accomplishments in the Comments below. Or blabbing, if you're alone in your inspiration.

Then see if you can contrive a clue for the same answers, just to prove you did get the answer and/or still have the clue-mongering mojo. Enjoy.

1. Brexit not a disaster? It's very costly (10) [Picaroon]

2. Evidently living wage perhaps getting cut? Then object (9) [Times 10998]

3. Lawman put pressure on family involved in crime (9) [Times 11025]

4. Candid in flyer? (5-6) [Paul]

5. Extremely daring unmentionables! (7) [Nimrod]

6. Champion winning in game (7) [Tramp]

7. Old doctor content to leave Indian root (6) [Times 10980]

8. Trunk call doesn't have everyone present (6) [Times 10985]

Share your eurekas and alternative clues below.

WoW: Nuncupate

20 November, 2017

NUNCUPATE [nuhn-CUP-ait] - to utter in solemn tones; to compliment formally; to ascribe [From Latin nuncupare to name, declare, a contraction of nomen name + capere to take] Envelope bearers at every awards ceremony get to nuncupate the eventual winners. 

Gruntling Results

16 November, 2017

So many sipid clues to sample – thanks for the Storm of contrary clues. I was gruntled all week, just seeing the wordplay appear.

Hard to single out a winner as well, as the hit-rate wasn’t effable. To pick out a few humdingers, I thought the best clue for surface and concision (and a brilliant dovetailing of wordplay and definition) went to that recidivist, SK:

NOCUOUS: Commonsense to save odd coupon cutting

Followed closely by SR’s grisly story:

MACULATE: Spotted male cat playing with mouse heart

Then there was Mauve’s amazing discovery, adding (and subtracting) an R to the target word:

EVITABLE: Avertible crash kills redhead

On the short-and-sweet side of the ledger, I loved Jon’s work:

RULY: Certainly not headstrong!

Plus Sam’s classy brace:

SIPID: Tasty dips I prepared

PECCABLE: Air-kissable? Wrong!

But in the spirit of contrary, looking for the best treble, with three consistent confections, I dip my lid to LA’s list, which almost reads like a noir synopsis:

EVITABLE - Bill detected in immorality – final outcome uncertain

KEMPTWaste reduced following introduction of kitchen tidy

WIELDY - Moderate, ye wild winds!

Thanks to all players for your gruntling work. Thanks also to SK for rebooting the Gargantuan prize – a simpatico gesture. Great as well to see some familiar names back at the forge, and look forward to more semantic shenanigans in 2018.

And LA – let me know your snail mail, and will send your humungous parcel soon. Yours nocently and not ungratefully, DA

WoW: Dostadning

13 November, 2017

DOSTADNING [doss-TARD-ning] - cleaning the house before you die, rather then leaving it to loved ones to tackle once you’ve gone. [Swedish, , ‘to die’, and städning, ‘cleaning’] Dostadning is bound to enter lexicons, thanks to Margareta Magnusson's bestseller, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.

Finessing the Effable

8 November, 2017

Some words own opposites you seldom hear - or don't truly exist. This perversity applies to the list below, in our final Brainstorm of 2017, as I will be off the grid for a few months, heading into a realm where a crossword is a keresztrejtvény.

In keeping with the year's last hurrah, there's a prize to win - my new Gargantuan Book of Words, as kindly donated back to the stock cupboard by SK.

No need for aliases when competing, as I'm prepared to let the clues speak for themselves. Your challenge is to craft a clue containing BOTH wordplay and definition for any of this dozen below. 

To help me pick a winner, please submit your best THREE clues by 6pm on next Wedesday, November 15. Thanks. And don't be too ruly, truly.













Share your clues and ideas in the forum here. Then post your three best as a shortlist before next Wednesday 6pm to be in the running for the Gargantuan prize.

WoW: Gowpen

6 November, 2017

GOWPEN - hollow formed when two hands create a bowl shape. [From Old Norse gaupn - cupped hands] To revive  your senses, splash your face with several gowpens of water. 

Sentence Folly

28 October, 2017

This is a creative challenge, so you get some extra time. The object is to write a 10-word sentence in which each word ends with the same letter of the alphabet.

For example: Dartmouth frosh clash with Pittsburgh church parish, clinch fifth triumph.

WoW: Chernozem

23 October, 2017

CHERNOZEM [CHUR-nuh-zem] - a soil common in cool or temperate semiarid climates, very black and rich in humus and carbonates. [From Russian,  chernozëm, equivalent to chërn(yń≠) black + zëm, variant, in compounds, of zemlyá earth] Hoary permafrost may cap loamy chernozem

Pasta Supreme

19 October, 2017

A modest Storm for a prize-touting Storm, but all the more reason for the pasta chefs to relish their moment. As was the case with Few Sillier, Unravioli, Penne Name, Papa Dell and Dodgy Diavolo, who ladled quality all last week. 

The challenge was twofold - to create a plausible pasta, and to clue those impastas I'd already devised. The best overall (as opposed to the best overalls) would win a copy of my new Gargantuan Book of Words, that does a whole lot more than invent pasta.

With no further oregano, the top 3 impastas, in ascending order:

3. Mickey Rooney (Few Sillier)

2. Ghetto Lingo (Penne Name)

1. Ugly Auntie (Penne again)


Top 3 impasta clues:

3. MONDAY LOTTO = Saying covers any old mistake (Un-Ravioli)

2. BUSY DELI = DIY blues after renovation (Few Sillier)

1. TAN BIKINI = Lauda reverses to stop in Batmobile (Few Sillier)

The surface sleekness of that last clue won me over, with both Few Sillier and Penne Name sharing the honours - yet not the spoils. Agouri, Sillier! You've won a Gargantuan prize, just as soon as you can reveal your secret recipes, and let me know your address via email. Thanks for the fun. Ciao for niao.

WoW: Vapourware

16 October, 2017

VAPOURWARE - new product, especially software, that is announced or promoted, yet is still to be produced or made available [Latin vapor - steam, heat - plus -ware] Consumers will stall on IT purchases in constant wait of the latest vapourware.


11 October, 2017

Contest time on the DA blog, your chance to win your own Gargantuan Book of Words - an omnibus of brain-games, quizzes, riddles, word stories and a list like the one below. 

The Impasta List, as I call it. Said aloud, with the right Roman rhythm, each double sounds like a type of pasta, from plasma telly to Monday lotto.

For a chance to grab Gargantuan, your challenge is twofold - and molto piccante. First, can you provide any more additions to the list - bona-fide or bogus couplings that mimic pasta? And second, can you contrive a classy clue for any of the impastas already listed here? No need for definition - just wordplay only.

To ensure fairness, choose a pasta-flavoured alias. And to ease admin, please assemble your best TWO examples, from the TWO categories, before this Sunday at 5pm. I will announce the winner late next week. Dig in.











WoW: Abderian

9 October, 2017

ABDERIAN [ab-DAIR-ee-uhn] - prone to incessant or idiotic laughter [From Abdera, a town in Thrace, where Democritus - the Laughing Philosopher - was born.] When one chuckle ripples through a group of friends, the mood soon turns abderian. 

WoW: Matutolypea

2 October, 2017

MATUTOLYPEA [mah-TOOT-uh-LO-pee-ah] - waking in a bad mood; ill-humour in the morning [Hybrid of Matuta Mater, the Roman Goddess of the dawn, plus Greek lype, grief or sorrow'] Those who habitually get out of the wrong side of the bed demonstrate matutolypea.

WoW: Synderesis

25 September, 2017

SYNDERESIS [sin-duh-REE-sis] - the innate capacity to understand ethics; the human disposition to morality; also SYNTERESIS (From Greek synteresis a guarding). Our conscience - the guiding voice within - underpins the notion of synderesis.

Brand Place/ment

19 September, 2017

On the back of this week's JETTATURA - a Volkswagen model beside a southern NSW beach - this Storm is out to continue the feat. Somewhere, somehow - let me explain.

Showing no shame, and getting parochial, your clue needs to enlist both a brand and a placename. Maybe that's GREECE evacuated, combining with NIVEA to spell GRIEVANCE. Or perhaps it's HAMPSTEAD boycotting AMP to create DEATHS. (Seems I'm tapping my inner Goth this morning...)

Global or local. Big brand or car model. However you can fuse the two elements, using sound or deletion, the whole thing working as a viable clue.

Of course, other wordplay elements may be involved. Or perhaps your answer carries its own place/brand combo, much like JETTATURA. So long as a trademark and something-like-Denmark get a gig.

Tricky? Sure. Here's a few whirls:

Bendigo's ultimate pet food a gem = OPAL

Around outback, IKEA prepared food = I(NT)AKE

Bizarrely Anita defends back in Africa = T(ANZ)ANIA

Maybe US and I brewed this! = BUDWEISER

Start your combine-harvesting, and let's see who wins the brief.

WoW: Jettatura

18 September, 2017

JETTATURA [jett-uh-TOO-ra] - the evil eye; bad luck [From Southern Italian, iettatura, hoodoo or jinx] Rankle a Sicilian and traditionally you may cop the jettatura, or a horse's head in the queen-size.

Gargantuan News

Yep, my Gargantuan Book of Words is big & full of words. Not just English but secret codes, Papuan pidgin, Zulu worms, sound FX, funny goldfish, letter origami. You get the drift? It's big. It's fun. And it's out now


Gargantuan Book of Words

Sneeze words. Fake pasta. Viking slang. Gargantuan is a jumbo jumble of puzzles & games, mazes & quizzes, tailor-made for that wordy wonderkid in your life. Or anyone in love with letters, secret codes, puns, rhymes, emoji & all things languagey. More here 

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Packed with games, pickles, codes and cheesy puns, Wordburger is your chance to be a champion puzzler in 20 quick bites. Ideal for wordy kids keen to open a new language door, or grown-ups who want to cut their cryptic teeth. Click here. 

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Riddles in song, in code, in pictures. From Ireland & Wonderland, Einstein & Pompeii. Riddledom reveals 101 wry questions from 50+ languages & shares their secrets. A book to unlock culture via conundrum. Order here.

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Recent Comments

Riddledom Rave

If you missed my riddle chat with Richard Fidler, then feel free to slurp the podcast at http://ab.co/1I9t1x5

Text-speak is creeping into Scrabble. Where do you sit?
OBVS I'm fine with it
Entrenched stuff - like LOL and OMG - but no more.
Words With Friends, maybe. Scrabble, no
Let the 'real' dictionaries decide first
Just the handy stuff, like FAQ and EUW
I mean, WTF?! No way
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