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: Nefelibata

20 June, 2018

NEFELIBATA [neh-feh-LEE-bah-tuh) - person who's lost in their own imagination or dreams; one who refuses to heed the precepts of society or art [From Greek, nephelobátēs, 'one who walks the clouds'.] Walter Mitty was a nefilibata.

WoW: Haecceity

18 June, 2018

HAECCEITY [HACK-see-uh-dee] - the status of being an individual or a particular nature; that which makes something to be different from anything else; thisness. [From Latin haecce, feminine of hic - this.] Determinining haecceity among duplicated objects is a mix of bravado and futility. 

WoW: Shturmovshchina

11 June, 2018

SHTURMOVSHCHINA [shturm-OVS-chee-ner] - the practice of working manically just before a deadline. [Lit Russian: last-minute storming] Nothing incites a columnist's shturmovshchina more than knowing the copy's deadline is tomorrow.

SKillz Required

6 June, 2018

After LA's intense themer from the other week, let's enter a non-themed labyrinth, designed with devilish flair by SK, a regular cluesmith on this site.

In fact, if you like the challenge as much as I did (lapping up 1ac, 14ac, 19ac and many more), then you can find SK's SKullduggery in The Big Issue, where he plays a lot kinder! And if you don't like this week's guest grid, well, tSK-tSK. (As always, please feel free to post your feedback - or queries - in the Comments below.)

(PS - this week has seen the website switch servers, so please let me know if you experience any teething pains. Thanks - DA.)

pdf 59KB

WoW: Souterrain

4 June, 2018

SOUTERRAIN [SOO-ter-rane] - underground chamber, passage, etc.  [French souterrain, from sous under + terre earth] Champagne bottles are protected from direct sunlight by use of cellars and other souterrains. 

WoW: Rebbetzin

28 May, 2018

REBBETZIN [REB-et-dzin] - rabbi's wife [From Hebrew, rebbe - master - plus Slavic feminine -itsa, plus Yiddish feminine suffix, -in.] Should the Jewish faith every allow female rabbis, how the language reflect that equality?

Escape From LA?

22 May, 2018

Ah, but will you? That's the real question. Making his Guest Grid debut, LA begins his innings with one gnarly grid. Make that a LAbyrinth, one that relies on an intense theme you'll need to nail promptly to escape LA. 

Share your feedback, and your pleas for mercy, in the Comments below - just to allay LA. This debut is one stellar way to start a puzzle-crafting career.  

pdf 26KB

WoW: Sumpitan

21 May, 2018

SUMPITAN [SUHM-puh-tuhn] - narrow blowpipe used discharging poisoned darts, as favoured by Borneo hunters. [From Malay - narrow]  The sumpitan is slowly being replaced by modern munitions. 

WoW: Jentacular

14 May, 2018

JENTACULAR [DJEN-tack-uh-lah] - relating to breakfast, especially one taken immediately on rising. [Latin ientaculum - a breakfast taken first thing] Muesli or porridge is a customary jentacular dilemma.

WoW: Jumar

7 May, 2018

JUMAR [DJU-mah] - clamp with a handle that can move up its rope, but locks when pressure is applied downward; an ascender [Fusion of its two Swiss inventors, Jürgen  and Walter Marti] The onset of the jumar - in 1958 - has been a bonanza for alpinists. 

WoW: Boffola

30 April, 2018

BOFFOLA [BOFF-oh-luh] - joke that gets a hearty laugh; surefire routine in a stand-up's shtick. [US slang, possible corruption of 'buffoon' from Italian buffone (jester), from buffare (to puff ou cheeks)]  Neither road-crossing chickens nor interrupting cows rate as top-shelf boffola.

WoW: Anopisthograph

23 April, 2018

ANOPISTHOGRAPH [an-uh-PIS-thuh-grarf] - manuscript or book having writing on one side only of the pages. [Greek, ana (against) + opistho (behind) + graphein (to write)] As paper stock becomes more precious, the anopisthograph embodies a degree of decadence. 

WoW: Surströmming

16 April, 2018

SURSTRÖMMING [SUR-struhr-ming] - a type of fermented Baltic Sea herring, guaranteed to repulse any queasy tyro. [Literally Swedish 'sour herring'] Fermented herring, such as surströmming, has been part of Norse cuisine for over 9000 years. 

WoW: Shapka

9 April, 2018

SHAPKA [SHAHP-kuh] - a brimless Russian hat of fur or sheepskin. [Russian, literally hat.] Quirkily, shapka is a cocktail of pashka (Russian for Easter) a rich dessert made with soft cheese, dried fruit, nuts and spices.

WoW: Bokeh

2 April, 2018

BOKEH [boh-KAY] -  subjective aesthetic quality of out-of-focus areas of a photo. [From Japanese, boke, blur or haze.] The Instagram appetite for photo filters has seen a skyrocketing of bokeh.

WoW: Caliginous

26 March, 2018

CALIGINOUS [kah-LIDGE-uh-nus] - dark, shadowy, misty [From Latin 'caliginosus' - misty] Flying foxes unhinge from their bowers when the sky turns caliginous.

WoW: Minyan

19 March, 2018

MINYAN [MIN-yun] - quorum of ten men (or elsewhere men and women) over the age of 13 required for traditional Jewish worship. (From Hebrew, literally 'reckoning'). You'd need to pass over Passover without a minyan.

Clues of Repute 60

16 March, 2018

Had to share the joys of this week's Paul crossword, one of the year's best. Lots of classy 4s, but so many other things to love.

My fave is Clue 4 below, the last one into the grid. While Clue 5 calls on a less than common word, but worth the getting with the cool wordplay.

You can download the joy here, but in the meantime, see how you fare with these staggering seven clues I'd ticked:

1. Criminal admits licking something fried (7)

2. Best man didn't notice a formality in speech (2,5)

3. Group rooted to the spot, force people to speak? (5)

4. Hearing case, figure in dock (8)

5. Two characters together, like sheep (6)

6. Tube from Chelsea, or taxi? (5)

7. Land seen in charming drawing? (8)

Enjoy the brain-bending. 


14 March, 2018

A puzzle to warm your cryptic engines, based on a simple switch. LOAF can swap its 'crusts' to make FOAL, paving the way for a clue like this:

Horse-head? (4,4) = LOAF FOAL

Stretching the word length, you could clue:

Colander coaches (8,8) = STRAINER TRAINERS

You get the drift. A teaser to reset the neurons. See how many of these you can snaffle, and feel free to add your own [with initials and your own clue numbers] in the forum.

DA1. Staggered footballer (6,6)

DA2. Tantrum? (6,6)

DA3. Said "Dithmith"? (6,6)

DA4. Again went through bowl? (7,7)

DA5. Waterbirds swipe (5,5)

DA6. Waterbirds bolt (5,5)

DA7. Gaga gloves? (7,7)

DA8. Spongy plant (4,4)

Can you crack all eight? And can you compose your own?

WoW: Bashwagon

12 March, 2018

BASHWAGON - a group of people sharing a dislike for someone or something, often assembled both virally and virulently. [Neologistic twist of bandwagon.] When a public figure fails in their duties, they are often beset by a bashwagon.

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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