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: Ipsedixitism

11 February, 2019

IPSEDIXITISM [eep-SAY-dix-it-iz-um] - a dogmatic assertion of a 'fact' without giving any supporting evidence. [Via Latin for 'he said it', translated from a Greek expression used by disciples of Pythagoras to justify any argument they chose.] Climate change deniers often resort to ipsedixitism, citing their charlatans of choice.

WoW: Piaffe

4 February, 2019

PIAFFE [pee-AHF] - a horse's serene, elevated trot-on-the-spot, as demanded in dressage [French] The piaffe evokes the image of a horse tip-hoofing over hot sand.

WoW: Schnapsidee

28 January, 2019

SCHNAPSIDEE [shnaps-EE-day-uh] - outlandish or impractical plan which seems brilliant when one is drunk. [German: schnap[p]s + idee] The more audacious among your new year's reolutions may well prove to be a schnapsidee. 

WoW: Voltinism

22 January, 2019

VOLTINISM - the number of generations produced by an organism per year. [From Italian volt, turn or time + Latin suffix -ine (of or pertaining to)] This Wiki entry describes univoltines (of organisms that have one brood per year), bivoltines, and more, in the voltinism matrix.

WoW: Dogwash

15 January, 2019

DOGWASH - any unappealing task that you seek to avoid or postpone. [Office jargon of 2010s, linking to the tedious chore of shampooing the shih-tzu.] Collating receipts for the quarterly BAS is a classic dogwash.

SK's Salute to 2018

15 January, 2019

Long-time cluesmith SK - part of the Big Issue's puzzle stable - has put together a stylish salute to the year fast diminshing in our rearview mirror. What scandals will get the nod? Which headlines? Game-changers?

Only way to find out... A big thanks to SK for this original puzzle, with one of the year's deftest anagrams included, plus a raft of other fine red herrings. Share your insights and responses in the thread. 

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WoW: Verbigeration

8 January, 2019

VERBIGERATION [ver-BIDGE-uh-ray-shun] - obsessive repetition of random words. It is similar to perseveration, in which a person repeats words in response to a stimulus. [From Latin verbigerāre "to exchange words, converse"] Verbigeration is a close clinical cousin of echolalia, both serving as salient symptoms of mental illness. 

WoW: Trudgen

1 January, 2019

TRUDGEN - a form of breaststroke, developed from sidestroke. A scissor kick is performed on every second stroke. [Named after John Trudgen (1852-1902), an English swimmer who popularised the stroke.] Diving into clue-crafting, can you avoid GRUNTED as the obvious blend of TRUDGEN?!

WoW: Pisgah sight

27 December, 2018

PISGAH SIGHT [pis-GAR] -  distant view (as of an unobtainable objective) [Reference to Moses who saw the Promised Land from Mt. Pisgah in Palestine, according to Deuteronomy 3:27]. Wishful thinkers may succumb to the Pisgah sight of a more glamorous or affluent existence.

WoW: Finifugal

19 December, 2018

FINIFUGAL [fin-nee-FEW-guhl] - despising - or seeking to avoid - endings; regarding one who seeks to prolong the final moment of a story, conversation or trip. [From Latin fini-s end , plus fug-a flight + -al] Most readers turn finifugal when savouring an engrossing novel.

WoW: Sphenisciphile

11 December, 2018

SPHENISCIPHILE [sfen-ISS-ee-file] - lover or ardent defender of penguins [Derived from the penguin's zoological order, Sphenisciformes + phile (lover)] Curiously, a sphenisciphile is also deemed to be an admirer of nuns.

WoW: If-By-Whiskey Speech

5 December, 2018

IF-BY-WHISKY SPEECH - political address where the speaker's position is contingent upon the listener's opinion; a relativist fallcy [Based on a 1952 speech by Noah 'Soggy' Sweat Jr, a Mississippi lawyer who demonised and canonised liquor, dependent on the audience's views] "If by whiskey," orated Soggy in this recreated video, "you mean the devil's brew, the poison scourge..." 

WoW: Menehune

29 November, 2018

MENEHUNE [menn-uh-HEWN] - a mythical dwarf race who lives in the hinterland valleys of Hawaii [From Hawaiian] Stonemasons of the highest quality, the menehune are shy, secretive and adore bananas.

WoW: Voldemorting

22 November, 2018

VOLDEMORTING - choosing alternative words or code-names to denote a certain celeb or site, in order to subvert their status or avoid data-mining. [After JK Rowling's evil wizard, 'he who shall not be named'] Birdsite (Twitter) and the Human Cheezel (Trump) are both examples of Voldemorting.

WoW: Apotropaic

15 November, 2018

APOTROPAIC [app-oh-TROH-pay-ick] - perceived as having the power to ward off evil influences or bad luck. [From Greek apotropaios ‘averting evil’, from apotrepein ‘turn away or from’ + -ic.] Jennifer Egan in Manhattan Beach describes wedding rings (on conference weekends) as apotropaic.

WoW: Rückenfigur

2 November, 2018

RÜCKENFIGUR  [ROO-ken-fig-uh] - compositional device in painting, graphic art and film where a person is seen from behind in the foreground of the image, contemplating the view before them. [German - back-figure] The rückenfigur can highlight the beyond as well as deepen the depicted viewer's own mystery.

WoW: Anemotropism

22 October, 2018

ANEMOTROPISM [aah-NEE-moh-trop-iz-uhm] - change in the growth or shape of an organism due to the wind's influence. [From Greek anemo - wind, plus tropism, a variant of tropos, or turn.] Anemotropism is in ample evidence along the ridges of gust-prone peaks. 

WoW: Tussenvoegsel

15 October, 2018

TUSSENVOEGSEL [tuhs-en-FERG-zel] - the intermediary name in Dutch that lies between a person's first name and surname, such as the von in Vincent Van Gogh, or the van in Martin van Buren. [From Dutch, literally, between-grout.] Often the tussenvoegsel enters sharp focus in English when debate surrounds capitalisation.

WoW: Xerostomia

8 October, 2018

XEROSTOMIA [zeer-oh-STO-mee-ah] - excessive dryness of the mouth [From Greek - xero (dry) + new Latin - stomia (of the mouth)] Poor salivary function, due to ageing, disease or hangovers, will result in xerostomia.

WoW: Parablepsis

1 October, 2018

PARABLEPSIS [par-ah-BLEP-sis] - sample of a ill-copied piece of transcript, where the scribe has misread the original text, skipping a word or line. [From Greek - paraleipsis, to look askance at, literally beside-sight.] While recording this definition from a lexical source, I took pains to avoid a parablepsis.

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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