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: 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.

Sam I Anagram

7 May, 2019

Cluesmith of many chatrooms, Sam has stepped forward with a classy puzzle of his own this week, with a double Nina to discover, and a strict restraint to admire.

From Sam: "I've been a fan of Dorothy Sayers since I was a teenager.  Re-reading one of her short stories - Uncle Meleager's Will - I was inspired to create this grid..."

There are some beautiful clues here, several neat innovations and a few less common words too. Feel free to download and get solving, sharing your insights, hints and feedback in the Comments below.

pdf 73KB

WoW: Lovat

6 May, 2019

LOVAT - yellowish-green tone popular in Scottish tweed and woollen fabrics [Named after T. A. Fraser, Lord Lovat from 1875, Scottish nobleman who popularised muted tweeds.] 

WoW: Hyperthymesia

29 April, 2019

HYPERTHYMESIA [HIY-pur-thiy-MEE-zha] - the condition of possessing an extremely detailed autobiographical memory, akin to a photographic recall of all life experiences. [From Greek hyper (excessive) + thymesis (remembering).] Ireneo Funes, the Uruguayan man known in a Borges story as Funes The Memorious, can recall every crack in a family's porcelain vase.

WoW: Fantoosh

22 April, 2019

FANTOOSH [fan-TOOSH] - flamboyant, flashy, stylish or possibly exotic [Origin unknown. Possibly from French fantoche - or Italian fantoccino - meaning puppet.] The change in seasons guarantees a blossoming of fantoosh outfits.

WoW: Poujadist

15 April, 2019

POUJADIST [por-JAR-dist] - a conservative reactionary determined to protect the business interests of small traders. [After Pierre Poujade (1920–2003), French publisher and bookseller who founded such a movement in 1954.] Latterday poujadists include sole traders hellbent on seeing multinationals bear their fair share of the tax burden.

WoW: Chain-Cerealling

8 April, 2019

CHAIN-CEREALLING - to persist in renewing your breakfast bowl in order to finish the last of the bowl's milk, possibly adding a little more milk in the process, ad infinitum [Web slang possibly first cited by Twitter's Nick Norlen, April 2019] There's a Zen art in judging your bowl's milk intake to avoid chain-cerealling.

WoW: Skosh

1 April, 2019

SKOSH - small amount. [From Japanese sukoshi - a smidgin - as corrupted by American service personnel during WW2.] Married At First Sight may sit among the top-rating shows, but I don't give a skosh. In fact, I'm a skosh jaded of reality TV.

WoW: Sastruga

25 March, 2019

SASTRUGA [SASS-truh-gah] - pronounced ridge of snow formed on a snowfield by the action of the wind; also zastruga - plural z/sastrugi. [German via Russian, zastrogat - to shave or plane (wood) down.] Experienced skiers have the nous and nimbleness-of-knee to navigate sastrugi.

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.

jpeg 699KB

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.

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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