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.

Loading tweet...

Hip-Hop Flip-Flop

19 January, 2012

Big storm in a small teacup last week, based on a hip-hop clue in the New York Times crossword. The setter in question was Joe Krozel, overseen by editor Will Shortz. The clue was 28-Down in the Saturday puzzle: Wack, in hip-hop.

The answer was ILLIN, which was news to me, and news to Julieanne Smolinski too, a freelance journo in hier 20s who’d only known ILLIN to mean cool, or menacing. Whereas wack means crazy, or stupid. Like going into KFC and orderin' a Big Mac, according to Run DMC – that’s illin'.

The ruckus magnified into rumpus – or maybe the other way around. But hip-hop can do that, or slang in general. Just like wicked, or gay, or bad…street words have a habit of reversing direction. They mutate in your grasp. Part of me sides with Shortz, defending his clue from a dated dictionary, just as I get Smolinski’s POV. Words change. Both parties are right – with one party more current than the other.

What other words have done a U-turn in our lifetime? I like how swipe has gone from meaning to steal, as well as to use a credit card. Or yo-yo has gone from toy to biscuit to a pair of homeboys passing in da street. That’s illin'. Any others?

Welcome to the new forum. Looks scary? It’s not. Feels iffy? It ain’t. The DisQus platform is here to block spam and lend us more chat options. That’s all. Please note, you don’t have to create a DisQus account to make a comment. If you do, however, it will speed your future visits. Be assured no details are abused, misused or reused. Let’s fight spam as one, and get back to the grand conversation. Thanks, DA

comments powered by Disqus

Wordburger Awaits!

Welcome all puzzle-lovers, including any chompers of the Wordburger book or app. (Check them out if you enjoy words & trickery.) And if you still crave more alphabet mischief, click on the burger icon above for a fresh serve.

Medal

Wordburger

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. 

read more +

Riddledom

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.

read more +

Cluetopia

Cluetopia roams the planet – and century – to find fresh crossword stories in 30+ languages. From shipwrecks to hoaxes, Cluetopia is a holiday for the head. Buy here.

read more +

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
See Results