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Diabolically Arcane

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Puzzles and Words

13 November, 2012

A Storm entailing word stories and wordplay this week, giving you a chance to snare an advance copy of Puzzles and Words. This quirky stocking-filler, loaded with origin yarns and related puzzles, is due to hit the stores in late November, but a Dabbler can get one early right here. Signed and gratis.

The challenge is twofold, mirroring the book. What you must do is find a word, a phrase, a brand, with an amazing source. Bluetooth, say, honours the nickname of Denmark’s Harald I, the king to unite his people a millennium ago. Sarcophagus literally means flesh-eating. To give someone the pip has nix to do with oranges, but relates to a chicken disease…

Part two of the challenge is to invent a smart clue for the word, phrase or name you’ve chosen. Though when it comes to voting, my exclusive role this time, I will be giving 4/3/2 for most surprising or fascinating origins, and 3/2/1 for best clue. That’s right, there’s gold in them backstories, people.

No need for aliases. And a line or two is plenty for the source stuff. Come Thursday, to make admin easier, just file your best two pairs and I will parade the tallies, and winner, on the weekend. Get pearl diving and find some treasure – tell us the story, and craft a gem clue.

PS – if dictionary diving is not your thing, then see who can best clue these eight words. All of them appear in Puzzles & Words, with surprising origins. Buy the book if you don’t believe me: HOCUS POCUS, JENGA, JINX, KURRAJONG, LIMERICK, MANURE, TIM TAM, YAKUZA. (Happy to figure your best clues in the tally – but origin stories remain the champion material.)

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

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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.



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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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.

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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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