Puzzles, posts, news and general word-chat.

Diabolically Arcane

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WoW: Kirigami

30 March, 2020

KIRIGAMI - a style of origami where paper-cutting is allowed. [From Japanese - kiri (cut) and gami (paper)] Rather than creasing, the school of kirigami is sharply increasing.

WoW: Marcescent

23 March, 2020

MARCESCENT [mah-SESS-unt] - withering without shedding [From Latin marcere - to wither] Autumn leaves are often marcescent for weeks, shrivelling without dropping off their branch.

Huh 60

19 March, 2020

In these strange days of self-exile, I thought I might pigeon-post some more baffling clues from UK puzzles past. Below I present ten mind-bogglers, where I can grasp elements of each, but never the entities. 

In contemplative self-isolation, can you fathom how these clues operate? And for extra sport, can you devise a clue for any of these same solutions?

1. Borrow, say, from one who may have some cheques = TRAVELLER [I know about George Borrow, but can't cotton onto Part II]

2. Hog a lot of time available for business = PIGEON [The charade is clear but not the secondary element]

3. Temporary relief from wild plant? Not always = ESCAPE

4. It enables one to get the message - after reflection, naturally = HELIOTROPE

5. Support for growing girl’s need = CAKE STAND [I hate to think...Is there more to this?]

6. Shaking violently following wild creature – no end of quest = ROCKING 

7.  Many an Anglo-Saxon runner needing a drink = MANHATTAN [Get the drink, just not the chaser]

8. Justice of the Peace? = BENEFIT

9. He came to a dreadful end, in agony = BAKER  

10.  Shortly about to run off without paying for this orange = NAVEL 

WoW: Gyges Effect

16 March, 2020

GYGES EFFECT [guy-JEEZ] - phenomenon whereby internet users become far less inhibited owing to the web's invisibility [Named after Greek shepherd Gyges whose magic ring enabled him to vanish at will.] Using zombie accounts or phony names, many trolls are emboldened by the Gyges effect.

WoW: Biarritz

9 March, 2020

BIARRITZ - [golfing slang] any green divided by a deep groove or swale [Named after a notorious example at Le Phare Golf Club in Biarritz, France.] The secret to mastering a biarritz is ball placement, removing the groove's treachery from the equation. 

WoW: Majolica

2 March, 2020

MAJOLICA [mah-JOLL-uh-ka] - decorated tile, coated in enamel or tin glaze, originally imported into Italy from Majorca [From 16C Italian for Majorca] A frieze of majolica tiles is sure to enliven any corridor.

WoW: Casspir

23 February, 2020

CASSPIR - armoured troop-carrier used in South Africa, capable of resisting attack and landmines. [Anagram of initial clients, South African Police and designers CSIR: Council for Scientific and Industrial Research] First produced in 1980, during the apartheid era, the casspir weighs some 10 tonnes and can carry some 14 passengers.

WoW: Eigengrau

17 February, 2020

EIGENGRAU (EYE-gairn-GRAU) - dark light; uniform grey that people report seeing in the absence of light; also called BRAIN GREY. [From German 'own grey'] Genuine blackness is often compensated by the viewer, the brain relaying the 'visual noise' of the lighted world into the void. 

Huh 59

12 February, 2020

Been a while since a Huuh post - as there ten bewildering clues suggest - or at least these clues threw a spanner in my ointment.

All of them hail from the Times, including some historic collections that lack an identifying number. If you can shed any light on these eel-like creations I'd be very grateful.

And feel free, if the muse stirs, to devise your own clues for any of the listed answers. Maybe I'll be able to fathom those! Thanks in advance.

1. Pink belt = KNOCK

2. Leaf disease initially increasing in volume? = FOLIO [Times 11,710]

3. Fighter plane operator repeatedly an associate of thieves = ALI BABA [same puzzle!]

4. Seven-stone pauper? = BEGGARMAN

5. Weight up and down a little bit with fashion = DROP HAMMER

6. Widow, for example, can set tongues wagging = IN VINO VERITAS

7. One has matter in hand? Shilling on tax = ABSCESS [Times 11,630]

8. Prudence given help in training = FORESIGHT

9. Fight round roadblock, initially = SET-TO

10. Made the grade as a priest in ceremony? = COPED

WoW: Fardage

10 February, 2020

FARDAGE - wooden platform - or absorbent material - placed along a ship's hold in order to keep cargo dry; also DUNNAGE. [Origin unknown] The universal pallet is the contemporary fardage. 

WoW: Babirusa

3 February, 2020

BABIRUSA - wild pig of Indonesian forests [From Malay bābī - hog, plus rūsa - deer] With curled turks, the babirusa boars are as hunted for ivory as meat.

WoW: Obreption

27 January, 2020

OBREPTION - seeking to gain a grant or present by fraudulent means. [From Latin obrepere - to creep up towards] Sadly, in the wake of January fires, some individuals relied on obreption to extort emergency aid.

WoW: Pooktre

20 January, 2020

POOKTRE [PUHK-tree] - the art of tree shaping; arbour sculpture; topiary [The word is blend of Australian artists Peter Cook and Becky Northey] Pooktre germinated in 1987 when gardening pioneer Peter Cook wondered if he could fashion a sapling into a living chair.

WoW: Ostranenie

13 January, 2020

OSTRANENIE [aw-STRAH-nuh-nee] - the practice of presenting a common item in a strange way in order to enhance perception of the familiar; defamiliarisation [Coined by Russian literary critic, Viktor Shklovsky, in 1917, after the Russian word for 'strange'] Cryptic clues can heed ostranenie, maing a solver see 'parable' - for example - as something which can be pared.

WoW: Struldbrug

6 January, 2020

STRULDBRUG [STRUHLD-bruhg] - a person who can never die but who is destined to be declared dead at the age of 80, and thus persist wretchedly at state expense. [Coined by Jonathan Swift, naming one of a class of inhabitants of the imaginary Luggnagg, in the book Gulliver's Travels (1726)] You can be forgiven for deeming the aged care sector has more than a few struldbrugs in their safekeeping.

WoW: Umbratile

30 December, 2019

UMBRATILE [UM-bruh-tile] - given to staying indoors; keeping in the shade; private, out of the public gaze. [From umbra in Latin - shade or shadow] Given summer's brutal temperatures, is it any wonder most of us turn umbratile? 

WoW: Akratic

23 December, 2019

AKRATIC [ah-KRAT-ic] - Showing weakness of will that leads to acting against your better judgment. [From Greek akretes (powerless), from a- (without) + kratos (power, strength)] As Christmas looms, we can succumb to akratic conduct, from carol-humming to chocolate gluttony.

Knight Moves

19 December, 2019

SK is SLEEK in the extreme, a setter in need of a mainstream place, no question. You can Steve Knight's guile in the weekly WoW threads, as well as his elegrant play-nice puzzles in the Big Issue every third issue. 

But until a deserving home can be found, he's always welcome here on DA.com, where this week's crossword puts 2019 in the rearview mirror. I'll be smuggling the challenge in my luggage, taking a break from radio and column duties for a little while. Enjoy the brain-trip. 

pdf 72KB

WoW: Fourchette

16 December, 2019

FOURCHETTE [FOR-chet] - the strip running along glove fingers to connect the front and back panels. [From French: a little fork, from Old French forche , via Latin furca] Owing to its fork root, fourchette can also apply to anatomy, a synonym of wishbone included. 

WoW: Dundrearies

9 December, 2019

DUNDREARIES - Long sideburns worn with a clean-shaven chin. [Named after character - Lord Dundreary) in the 1858 farce 'Our American Cousin', by UK playwright Tom Taylor.] Male hipsters are as likely to parade dundrearies as sideburns or Ned Kelly beards.

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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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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