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: Pulaski

24 June, 2019

PULASKI [puh-LAH-skee] - firefighting tool that combines an axehead on one side, and adze on the other. [Named after US forest ranger Ed Pulaski who used the bespoke mattock-like tool to help save 45 men trapped by Idaho's wildfires of 1910.] The pulaski is also known as a cutter-mattock.

WoW: Fauxpology

17 June, 2019

FAUXPOLOGY - phony expression of remorse; insincere way of saying sorry, or presenting regret [Blend of faux/apology] Any apology that begins 'If X was somehow offended...', then you're about to hear a fauxpology.

WoW: Mukbang

10 June, 2019

MUKBANG - program in which someone livestreams their consumption of a truly huge meal. [Korean - meokneun ‘eating’ and bangsong ‘broadcast’] Akin to gastro-porn, mukbang is an online version of the hotdog eating contest.

What The Butler's Done

3 June, 2019

SUE BUTLER is synonymous with Australian English, as you'd expect of someone who's name nurses TRUE BLUE.

For many years, Sue oversaw the Macquarie Dictionary, ushering the nation's tome into its 7th Edition. She's also the author of the Dinkum Dictionary, plus her more personal musings in The Aitch Factor. And last year, Sue was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for services to philology.

More recently, The Butler has been busy building a lingo-laced platform in the shape of her lively blog, a site awash in new words a-la the bunch listed below. How many have you met before? And as a treat, a full-blooded WoW, can you craft a neat cryptic clue for any of these specimens. Sue would be tickled pink if you did.

CANCEL CULTURE -  a form of boycott, where followers remove their attention from the offending person, depriving them of a following.

CONCIERGE PARENT -  mother or father who offers to solve all of life’s problems for the child.

KAMBO - venom of an Amazonian tree frog, used to purge the body and in the process free the mind from unwanted baggage.

ROBODEBT - automated system for recovering sums owed, notably used by Centrelink to recover money overpaid to welfare recipients. 

SOBERISTA - modern teetotaller 

TASSIE TUXEDO - puffer jacket

UPLIT - uplifting literature

WELLDERLY - senior citzens who enjoy good health; aged and hale

WoW: Ship of Theseus

27 May, 2019

SHIP OF THESEUS - a thought experiment asking if an object that's had every part replaced essentially remains the same object. [Based on an ancient warship having its every plank and mask replaced, yet still claiming to be the 'ship of Theseus'] When Queen tours in 2020, minus two of its original members, they enter the waters of Theseus' ship. 

Wow: Yatra

20 May, 2019

YATRA - a sacred journey or pilgirmage performed by Hindus and other Indian faiths. [From Sanskrit yatra ‘journey’, from ya ‘go’] Typically a yatra wends to a mountain peak, or junction of rivers, the ardour of the journey as vital as the destination.

WoW: Raudive Voices

13 May, 2019

RAUDIVE VOICES [raw-DEEV] - the disembodied sounds of supposed spirits, as heard on tape recorders or via static. [Named after Latvian parapsychologist Konstant─źns Raudive.] Typically labelled EVP, or Electronic Voice Phenomena, Raudive voices enliven the realm of white noise, albeit debatably.

Sam I Anagram

7 May, 2019

Cluesmith of many chatrooms, Sam has stepped forward with a classy puzzle of his own this week, with a double Nina to discover, and a strict restraint to admire.

From Sam: "I've been a fan of Dorothy Sayers since I was a teenager.  Re-reading one of her short stories - Uncle Meleager's Will - I was inspired to create this grid..."

There are some beautiful clues here, several neat innovations and a few less common words too. Feel free to download and get solving, sharing your insights, hints and feedback in the Comments below.

pdf 73KB

WoW: Lovat

6 May, 2019

LOVAT - yellowish-green tone popular in Scottish tweed and woollen fabrics [Named after T. A. Fraser, Lord Lovat from 1875, Scottish nobleman who popularised muted tweeds.] 

WoW: Hyperthymesia

29 April, 2019

HYPERTHYMESIA [HIY-pur-thiy-MEE-zha] - the condition of possessing an extremely detailed autobiographical memory, akin to a photographic recall of all life experiences. [From Greek hyper (excessive) + thymesis (remembering).] Ireneo Funes, the Uruguayan man known in a Borges story as Funes The Memorious, can recall every crack in a family's porcelain vase.

WoW: Fantoosh

22 April, 2019

FANTOOSH [fan-TOOSH] - flamboyant, flashy, stylish or possibly exotic [Origin unknown. Possibly from French fantoche - or Italian fantoccino - meaning puppet.] The change in seasons guarantees a blossoming of fantoosh outfits.

WoW: Poujadist

15 April, 2019

POUJADIST [por-JAR-dist] - a conservative reactionary determined to protect the business interests of small traders. [After Pierre Poujade (1920–2003), French publisher and bookseller who founded such a movement in 1954.] Latterday poujadists include sole traders hellbent on seeing multinationals bear their fair share of the tax burden.

WoW: Chain-Cerealling

8 April, 2019

CHAIN-CEREALLING - to persist in renewing your breakfast bowl in order to finish the last of the bowl's milk, possibly adding a little more milk in the process, ad infinitum [Web slang possibly first cited by Twitter's Nick Norlen, April 2019] There's a Zen art in judging your bowl's milk intake to avoid chain-cerealling.

WoW: Skosh

1 April, 2019

SKOSH - small amount. [From Japanese sukoshi - a smidgin - as corrupted by American service personnel during WW2.] Married At First Sight may sit among the top-rating shows, but I don't give a skosh. In fact, I'm a skosh jaded of reality TV.

WoW: Sastruga

25 March, 2019

SASTRUGA [SASS-truh-gah] - pronounced ridge of snow formed on a snowfield by the action of the wind; also zastruga - plural z/sastrugi. [German via Russian, zastrogat - to shave or plane (wood) down.] Experienced skiers have the nous and nimbleness-of-knee to navigate sastrugi.

WoW: Neanimorphic

18 March, 2019

NEANIMORPHIC [NEE-an-ee-MOR-fick] - seeming younger than one's actual years; age-defying in appearance. [From Latin, neaniac, young man + morphic] A kidult mindset, in tandem with cosmetic care, can contribute to neanimorphic powers.

WoW: Wilhelm Scream

11 March, 2019

WILHELM SCREAM - stock audio of a strangled yell, as used in films and TV series. [Named after Private Wilhelm - a character in 1953 western, The Charge at Feather River. Though first captured in 'alligator scene' of Distant Drums, 1951.] The next time you hear gurgled cries on screen, that may be a Wilhelm scream in perpetuity.

WoW: Carinderia

4 March, 2019

CARINDERIA [kar-in-DAIR-ee-uh] - a Filipino food stall with small seating area, typically found in markets or on roadsides. [Tagalog] The bain marie of any carinderia emits irradiance, aptly the venue's anagram. 

WoW: Metutials

25 February, 2019

METUTIALS [mair-TYU-shuls] – small, irksome chores which must be done before other work can commence. [Possibly a corruption of Latin's matutinal - of the morning; early] Even before embarking on drafting his Moonlight Sonata, Ludwig needed to observe his daily metutials.

Grid Gaffe

22 February, 2019

Gremlins in the Nine-Fairfax machine have made DA's puzzle even harder than usual. The crossword should be escorted by instructions and shaded squares - both of which are AWOL in the printed version. 

As a royal commission is being mobilised, investigating Proof-Gate, sending gremlins to prison farms, please download the correct grid as PDF below, with both directions and shaded squares. (The clues of course are found in today's Age or SMH.) And please, enjoy a far kinder brain-bend, as first planned.

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Rewording The Brain

Focus & memory, lateral leaps & logic - every aspect of cognitive health is lit in Rewording The Brain, a book revelling in how puzzles boost your brain. Part 2 equips your brain to conquer any twisty clue, plus the wild crossword finale. Pop science meets neural gameplay, Rewording is rewarding, and out now.


Rewording The Brain

Care to renew your noodle? Rewording The Brain explores the latest neural studies, seeing how puzzles (and twisty clues) boost your neurons. Part 2 helps you crack such clues, and prep the grey matter for the crossword showcase to finish. More here

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101 Weird Words (and 3 Fakes)

From Ambidextrous to Zugwang, this mini-dictionary teems with rare or alluring words, plus bonus riddles, puzzles and fun word-facts. Dictionary detective will also nab the collection's three fakes. Ideal for late primary schoolers, or word-nuts in general.

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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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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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