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: Moulin

16 September, 2019

MOULIN [MOO-lin] - cylindrical shaft that extends through a glacier, one that's carved by meltwater from the surface [From Latin molinum - a mill or grindstone] Robert Macfarlane rappels into a moulin's maw as part of his latest nature paean, Underland.

WoW: Scaramucci

9 September, 2019

SCARAMUCCI [skar-ah-MOO-chee] - ten-day period between a person's hiring to firing; also SCARAMOOCH or MOOCH. [Named after White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci who was dismissed by the Trump administration almost as quickly as was hired.] Volatile executives may only last half a Scarmucci in the top job.

WoW: Soign├ę

2 September, 2019

SOIGNÉ [swan-YAY] - elegantly dressed or well groomed. [From past participle of French soigner ‘take care of’, from soin ‘care’] Audrey Hepburn is the epitome of soigné.

WoW: Neanimorphism

26 August, 2019

NEANIMORPHISM - the quality of looking younger than your age. [From Latin neanias - young man - plus Greek morphe - shape or form.] Yak milk and Photoshop are the two secrets of neanimorphism.

WoW: Graupel

19 August, 2019

GRAUPEL [graw-PEL]- soft hail-like precipitation consisting of condensed snow pellets. [From German diminutive of Graupe, hulled grain; akin to Russian krupa, groats.] As a fiddler on the roof, Topol had to watch out for graupel. 

WoW: Warnock's Dilemma

12 August, 2019

WARNOCK'S DILEMMA - online scenario where a blog post or forum article attracts zero responses due to (a) indifference, (b) absence of readers, or (c) the post's completeness - where nothing more needs to be added. [Named after US Usenet observer Bryan Warnock in 2000.] To be pedantic, Warnock's Dilemma is more a trilemma of possibilities, or more going by the man's manifesto

WoW: Shuriken

5 August, 2019

SHURIKEN [shooh-ruh-KEN] - a concealed star-shaped weapon thrown by ninjas or other assailants as an aerial dagger or distraction. [Japanese 'hidden hand blade'] The shuriken is also known as a throwing star - or ninja star.

Huh 57

31 July, 2019

Long overdue for an opaque clue or two. Below is a batch of perplexing clues drawn from an array of British puzzles, with each of them still thwarting my bid to grasp the wordplay in full. If you think you can shed some light on the matter - any of these matters - then your counsel is encouraged.

(And if you feel like some freewheeling clue-mongering, then you're welcome to conjure original clues for the same answers. A chance to strut with 'normal' words, away from the WoW challenges.) Thanks for both in advance.

1. Stitch finally made runner fall = PURLER (Times 11,453)

2. Attending party in NI, doctor by nature smart = DRESSED UP   (Times 11,456)

3. Picks up brown coat leader of hospital body’s dropped = RUSTS  (Times 11,457)

4. It follows funk broadcast in European city = SOFIA (Times, 11,449)

5. Man with cross to bear: that’s self-evident = AXIOM (as above)

6. Reduced opening for leasing arrangement = GROUND RENT  (Times 11,499)

7. Plant by seawater never appearing evenly = YEW TREE (Loglady - The Indy)

WoW: Oniochalasia

29 July, 2019

ONIOCHALASIA [ON-ee-oh-CARL-ay-zhe-uh] - purchasing of objects as a form of mental relaxation; retail therapy. [Greek onios - for sale - plus chalasis: loosening, relaxing.] Bookshops are where I practise my oniochalasia.

WoW: Toodlembuc

22 July, 2019

TOODLEMBUC - game-of-chance device consisting of a skewer, a cotton reel, and a disc marked in sectors, each bearing a horse's name and odds proportional to sector size ; also toodle-em-buck [From 'toodle doodle' reduplicative aligned with spinning, plus 'em them + buck - a gambling marker] Bet you can't find a toodlembuc image, as a roulette diagram was the nearest I managed. 

WoW: Wannigan

15 July, 2019

WANNIGAN [wohn-NEE-gahn] - a lumberjack's chest or box;  an canoe's inbuilt cabinet for food preparation or storage. [From Algonquian wannigan - pit trap, container for sundries. Compare Ojibwe waanikaan - excavated hole] For a jamboree in Wamberal, every wobbegong had a wannigan.

WoW: Palatschinken

8 July, 2019

PALATSCHINKEN [pah-LAT-shin-kuhn] - thin egg batter pancake stuffed with jam or stewed fruit. [German, from Hungarian palacsinta, from Romanian placinta - flat cake - linking back to Latin placenta] Palatshinken is the mid-European version of crepe Suzette.

WoW: Hagioscope

1 July, 2019

HAGIOSCOPE - an angled slot at eye-level within a cathedral's stonework allowing a secluded worshipper off the main nave to observe the service; a low-side window; a squint. [Greek - holy + see] Hindu temples have an equivalent hagioscope for the unclean to witness liturgies from without the temple.

WoW: Pulaski

24 June, 2019

PULASKI [puh-LAH-skee] - firefighting tool that combines an axehead on one side, and adze on the other. [Named after US forest ranger Ed Pulaski who used the bespoke mattock-like tool to help save 45 men trapped by Idaho's wildfires of 1910.] The pulaski is also known as a cutter-mattock.

WoW: Fauxpology

17 June, 2019

FAUXPOLOGY - phony expression of remorse; insincere way of saying sorry, or presenting regret [Blend of faux/apology] Any apology that begins 'If X was somehow offended...', then you're about to hear a fauxpology.

WoW: Mukbang

10 June, 2019

MUKBANG - program in which someone livestreams their consumption of a truly huge meal. [Korean - meokneun ‘eating’ and bangsong ‘broadcast’] Akin to gastro-porn, mukbang is an online version of the hotdog eating contest.

What The Butler's Done

3 June, 2019

SUE BUTLER is synonymous with Australian English, as you'd expect of someone who's name nurses TRUE BLUE.

For many years, Sue oversaw the Macquarie Dictionary, ushering the nation's tome into its 7th Edition. She's also the author of the Dinkum Dictionary, plus her more personal musings in The Aitch Factor. And last year, Sue was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for services to philology.

More recently, The Butler has been busy building a lingo-laced platform in the shape of her lively blog, a site awash in new words a-la the bunch listed below. How many have you met before? And as a treat, a full-blooded WoW, can you craft a neat cryptic clue for any of these specimens. Sue would be tickled pink if you did.

CANCEL CULTURE -  a form of boycott, where followers remove their attention from the offending person, depriving them of a following.

CONCIERGE PARENT -  mother or father who offers to solve all of life’s problems for the child.

KAMBO - venom of an Amazonian tree frog, used to purge the body and in the process free the mind from unwanted baggage.

ROBODEBT - automated system for recovering sums owed, notably used by Centrelink to recover money overpaid to welfare recipients. 

SOBERISTA - modern teetotaller 

TASSIE TUXEDO - puffer jacket

UPLIT - uplifting literature

WELLDERLY - senior citzens who enjoy good health; aged and hale

WoW: Ship of Theseus

27 May, 2019

SHIP OF THESEUS - a thought experiment asking if an object that's had every part replaced essentially remains the same object. [Based on an ancient warship having its every plank and mask replaced, yet still claiming to be the 'ship of Theseus'] When Queen tours in 2020, minus two of its original members, they enter the waters of Theseus' ship. 

Wow: Yatra

20 May, 2019

YATRA - a sacred journey or pilgirmage performed by Hindus and other Indian faiths. [From Sanskrit yatra ‘journey’, from ya ‘go’] Typically a yatra wends to a mountain peak, or junction of rivers, the ardour of the journey as vital as the destination.

WoW: Raudive Voices

13 May, 2019

RAUDIVE VOICES [raw-DEEV] - the disembodied sounds of supposed spirits, as heard on tape recorders or via static. [Named after Latvian parapsychologist Konstant─źns Raudive.] Typically labelled EVP, or Electronic Voice Phenomena, Raudive voices enliven the realm of white noise, albeit debatably.

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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