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: Golconda

10 May, 2021

GOLCONDA - treasure trove; source of immense wealth. [Named after an historic region of southern India, once the hib of diamong mining.] The Koh-i-noor, all 105 carats, was extracted from a gravel claypit within Golconda.

WoW: Houding

3 May, 2021

HOUDING - a painter's or designer's pleasing evocation of space [From Dutch, literally meaning attitude or posture] In the Golden Age of Dutch portraiture, Rembrandt proved a master of houding,

WoW: Dinnyhayser

26 April, 2021

DINNYHAYSER - (archaic Aus/NZ slang) an excellent example; a knockout punch [Origin unknown. Variants include dinnyhazer, dinnyhayzer] Dinnyhayzer is a synonym of bell-ringer in two senses: a knockout punch and knockout example. 

WoW: Juvenoia

19 April, 2021

JUVENOIA - the fear one generation holds towards younger generations succeeding them [A hybrid of juvenile-paranoia] A portion of Boomer critique of the millennial population is fuelled by juvenoia.

WoW: Thomasson

12 April, 2021

THOMASSON - any example of superseded design, often a revamp's leftover, such as a door opening to a wall, or staircase leading to nowhere. (Named by Japanese artist Genpei Akasegawa after US baseball import, Gary Thomasson - a well-maintained but under-serving athlete.) Hyperart Thomasson is Akasegawa's gallery of useless windows and redundant doors.

WoW: Cryptomnesia

5 April, 2021

CRYPTOMNESIA - fresh emergence of a long-forgotten memory as if it were a new experience [From Greek, crypto - hidden, plus mnesia, memory] A form of self-plagiarism, cryptomnesia might see you express a novel idea only to realise it's one you'd earlier published or outlined.

WoW: Descanso

29 March, 2021

DESCANSO [dess-CARN-so] - roadside memorial marking a fatality; any improvised marker honouring where a life was lost [From Spanish - resting place] Bouquets and teddy bears clutter the average descanso.

WoW: Tintookie

22 March, 2021

TINTOOKIE [tin-TUHK-ee] - sycophant; puppet [Australian slang, derived from marionette-master Peter Scriven - pictured - whose creations from the late 1950s included The Tintookies] Dictators tend to surround themselves with tintookies.

WoW: Cacography

15 March, 2021

CACOGRAPHY - bad or illegible writing; poor spelling [From Greek kakos - bad, plus graphia] Come script time, GPs are notorious for their cacography.

WoW: Al desko

8 March, 2021

AL DESKO - eating a principal meal at one's work station [Humorous variant on al fresco.] Before each Evenings show on ABC Radio Melbourne, I will observe an al-desko repast. 

WoW: Aunt Emma

1 March, 2021

AUNT EMMA - croquet slang for a player more focused on hindering an opponent's progress, rather than trying to progress themselves; risk-averse individual [Unkind allusion to a possible kinswoman, though as likely to be a bigoted figment] For more croquet jargon, from Aunt Emma to Whaarad turn, try here.

WoW: Tongue-Hero

22 February, 2021

TONGUE-HERO - a braggart; an exaggerator of minor achievements [Figurative, based on a blowhard's claimed feats.] Your typical tongue-hero is bound to magnify their least deed.

WoW: Exergue

15 February, 2021

EXERGUE - space below a coin's central design, often containing the date or origins [Mediaeval Latin exergum, from Greek ex - outside, plus ergon - work] A medal will carry its own exergue with the honoree's details.

WoW: Zeigarnik Effect

8 February, 2021

ZEIGARNIK EFFECT - whereby people tend to remember unfinished or incomplete tasks better than completed ones [Named after Bluma Zeigarnik, a Soviet psychologist who observed how waiters better recalled the details of unpaid bills than settled ones.] To prove the Zeigarnik effect, can you retrieve the last clue to stump you?

WoW: Apophenia

1 February, 2021

APOPHENIA - tendency to make meaningful links between unrelated things. [Coined by German psychiatrist Klaus Conrad in 1956, from Greek apophaínō - to appear] Patients living with schizophrenia, as well as QAnon conspiracy theorists, are prone to apophenia.

WoW: Whelve

25 January, 2021

WHELVE - to overturn a dish (or other vessel) in order to cover another item [From Old English gehwielfan, to arch, bend over - akin to Old High German welben to vault] In summer, you're wise to whelve the chinaware to cover a platter of antipasti.

WoW: GLOMAR response

18 January, 2021

GLOMAR RESPONSE - evasive parry to a question, often expressed as 'neither confirm, nor deny' [Coined in 1975 owing to the LA Times inquiry into a covert CIA operation to salvage a Soviet submarine, under the guise of Howard Hughes's Global-Marine (GLOMAR) exploration vessel] In text-ese, the GLOMAR response is NCND.

WoW: Smeuse

11 January, 2021

SMEUSE - small hole in a hedge used as a thoroughfare for animals. [Sussex dialect] A wombat smeuse would naturally outsize a bandicoot smuese.

WoW: Zoombomb

4 January, 2021

ZOOMBOMB - to trespass another's videochat - by design or accident. [Variation on 'photobomb'] No question, the most beloved zoombomb was performed by Marion, the four-year-old daughter of BBC interview, Robert Kelly, in 2017.

WoW: Blandscape

28 December, 2020

BLANDSCAPE - generic, lacklustre scenery, often occupied by tasteless public buildings or vanilla kit-homes [Bland/landscape hybrid] Shopping malls, office blocks and McMansions infest the modern blandscape.

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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