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: Droste Effect

17 June, 2024

DROSTE EFFECT [DROSS-tuh] - the mind-numbing impact of a picture that appears within itself ad infinitum [Named after Gerardus Droste, Dutch founder of the cocoa company - in 1863 - whose packet featured a nurse eternally iterated] Observers can fall into a mesmeric trance, lost in the Droste effect.

WoW: Eshay

10 June, 2024

ESHAY - teen - or young adult - wearing prominent in-brands and presenting as aggro troublemaker [Australia slang, like a pig Latin encoding of sesh - a drug session]  Writers on Heartbreak High have helped to popularised eshay, both here and offshore. 

WoW: Torino Scale

3 June, 2024

TORINO SCALE - scoring system used to rate the power and likelihood of an asteroid striking Earth [Coined the Professor Richard Binzel - of MIT - during the UN's 1995 conference in Turin, or Torino to locals] Coded by colour, the Torino scale has yellow - meriting attention - and red: certain collision.

WoW: Hanami

27 May, 2024

HANAMI - Japanese custom of relishing the beauty of flowers [Literally flower-viewing] Tokyo's cherry blossom season, as much as a parlour's ikebana, promote the joy of hanami. 

WoW: Fouette

20 May, 2024

FOUETTE -   ballet step where the dancer stands on one foot, while lashing out with the other [Via French fouetter - to whip - from fouet, a whip] A pirouette is a picnic compared to the strength a fouette demands. 

WoW: Mihrab

13 May, 2024

MIHRAB - a mosque's portal - or aligned prayer mat - denoting the 'qibla' , or direction of Mecca [Disputed origins, ranging from Ethiopic, to dedicate, or Hebrew, kerub - angel] Mosque alignment - as marked by the mihrab - shows a steadfast awareness of Mecca's location.

WoW: Illaqueate

6 May, 2024

ILLAQUEATE - to entrap, or entangle [From Latin illequeare, with prefix il- (in) + laqueare (to ensnare), from laqueus (noose)] An insurance policy's small print tends to illaqueate the unwary.

WoW: Chope

29 April, 2024

CHOPE [show-PAY] - to reserve a table or cafe nook by depositing a personal item upon the surface [Singapore slang via the 'chup' cry in Malay gameplay, requesting a halt or the retraction of a point, possibly from Hindi - cup: silence!] Incidental items, such as a book or even tissue can be used to chope a niche.

WoW: Sfumato

22 April, 2024

SFUMATO - painting technique that blurs the lines or colour shifts, replicating our own perception of the world [Via Italian, sfumare to shade off, deriving from Latin, fumare: to smoke] From Da Vinci's faces to Turner's clouds, artists have been relying on the subtlety of sfumato.

WoW: Mondo

15 April, 2024

MONDO - (in Zen Buddhisma question directed to a student where an immediate response is needed, the spontaneity often illuminating for both master and learner. [From Japan mondō, equivalent to Mandarin, wèn inquire +  reply] Mondo is the Zen equivalent to word association. 

WoW: Digital Removalist

8 April, 2024

DIGITAL REMOVALIST - person hired to cull any content from a person’s social media posts that may harm their reputation [Neologism] Job applicants would be wise to seek the services of a digital removalist.

WoW: Verecund

1 April, 2024

VERECUND – modest; bashful; extremely shy [From Latin verēcundus diffident, from verērī to fear] The hospital interne was verecund to a point of introvert.

WoW: Taonga

25 March, 2024

TAONGA - cultural treasure, either tangible or intagible [From te reo Maori, translating as treasure] Taonga may apply to anything a people prize, be that ideas, resources, crafts or sacred objects. 

WoW: Kwashiorkor

18 March, 2024

KWASHIORKOR [kwash-ee-OR-kah] - acute malnutrition of infants and young children, especially soon after weaning [From a native Ghana word] A life-or-death matter, kwashiorkor arises from a dietary deficiency of protein.

WoW: Schleifer

18 March, 2024

SCHLEIFER [SHLY-fur] - ten-pin bowling strike where every pin seems to fall down singly in a sequence [Sporting slang from German, literally 'grinder' or 'cutter'] Nerve-racking to watch, a schliefer encapsulates domino theory in action.

WoW: Fanum Tax

11 March, 2024

FANUM TAX - (slang, humorous) a portion of food taken from a friend's plate without asking first. [Named after Bronx-born YouTuber Roberto 'Fanum' Gonzalez who popularised the prank on Kai Cenat's Twitch platform.] French fries or potato wedges are the common costs of Fanum tax.

WoW: Palapa

4 March, 2024

PALAPA -  a basic shack, or open-sided shelter, with a thatched roof made of dried palm leaves.  [perh. ‹ MexSp: a kind of palm tree] Integral to most beachside cantinas of Mexico is the adjacent relief of a palapa.

WoW: Colexify

26 February, 2024

COLEXIFY - to ascribe multiple meaning to the same word [From Latin co- (joint) plus, Greek, lexikon, dictionary] Rather than coin new words, we often colexify common words - like set or run - with yet another sense.

WoW: Gottle O' Geer

19 February, 2024

GOTTLE O' GEER - any ventriloquy utterance compromised in clarity, owing to the suppression of labial consonants [Mimicry of the notoriously difficult 'bottle of beer'] Glinky Gill is the gottle o' geer version of Blinky Bill. 

WoW: Meeple

12 February, 2024

MEEPLE - human-shaped figurine (or figurines) used in a board-game. [Blend of 'my people', attributed to American Alison Hansel, a keen player of Carcassonne, in 2000.] Game theorists quibble whether bishop chesspieces qualify as meeple.

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.

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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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