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: 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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WoW: Ballybrack

18 February, 2019

BALLYBRACK - to fake the death of an obscure relative or acquaintance so as to avoid an engagement. [Irish slang coined after Ballybrack FC falsely claimed one of their players had died to avoid a match.] Malingerers would be wise not to ballybrack too often, as there are only so many obscure ancestors available. 

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.

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

read more +

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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