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: Droste Effect

17 June, 2024

DROSTE EFFECT [DROSS-tuh] - the mind-numbing impact of a picture that appears within itself ad infinitum [Named after Gerardus Droste, Dutch founder of the cocoa company - in 1863 - whose packet featured a nurse eternally iterated] Observers can fall into a mesmeric trance, lost in the Droste effect.

WoW: Eshay

10 June, 2024

ESHAY - teen - or young adult - wearing prominent in-brands and presenting as aggro troublemaker [Australia slang, like a pig Latin encoding of sesh - a drug session]  Writers on Heartbreak High have helped to popularised eshay, both here and offshore. 

WoW: Torino Scale

3 June, 2024

TORINO SCALE - scoring system used to rate the power and likelihood of an asteroid striking Earth [Coined the Professor Richard Binzel - of MIT - during the UN's 1995 conference in Turin, or Torino to locals] Coded by colour, the Torino scale has yellow - meriting attention - and red: certain collision.

WoW: Hanami

27 May, 2024

HANAMI - Japanese custom of relishing the beauty of flowers [Literally flower-viewing] Tokyo's cherry blossom season, as much as a parlour's ikebana, promote the joy of hanami. 

WoW: Fouette

20 May, 2024

FOUETTE -   ballet step where the dancer stands on one foot, while lashing out with the other [Via French fouetter - to whip - from fouet, a whip] A pirouette is a picnic compared to the strength a fouette demands. 

WoW: Mihrab

13 May, 2024

MIHRAB - a mosque's portal - or aligned prayer mat - denoting the 'qibla' , or direction of Mecca [Disputed origins, ranging from Ethiopic, to dedicate, or Hebrew, kerub - angel] Mosque alignment - as marked by the mihrab - shows a steadfast awareness of Mecca's location.

WoW: Illaqueate

6 May, 2024

ILLAQUEATE - to entrap, or entangle [From Latin illequeare, with prefix il- (in) + laqueare (to ensnare), from laqueus (noose)] An insurance policy's small print tends to illaqueate the unwary.

WoW: Chope

29 April, 2024

CHOPE [show-PAY] - to reserve a table or cafe nook by depositing a personal item upon the surface [Singapore slang via the 'chup' cry in Malay gameplay, requesting a halt or the retraction of a point, possibly from Hindi - cup: silence!] Incidental items, such as a book or even tissue can be used to chope a niche.

WoW: Sfumato

22 April, 2024

SFUMATO - painting technique that blurs the lines or colour shifts, replicating our own perception of the world [Via Italian, sfumare to shade off, deriving from Latin, fumare: to smoke] From Da Vinci's faces to Turner's clouds, artists have been relying on the subtlety of sfumato.

WoW: Mondo

15 April, 2024

MONDO - (in Zen Buddhisma question directed to a student where an immediate response is needed, the spontaneity often illuminating for both master and learner. [From Japan mondō, equivalent to Mandarin, wèn inquire +  reply] Mondo is the Zen equivalent to word association. 

WoW: Digital Removalist

8 April, 2024

DIGITAL REMOVALIST - person hired to cull any content from a person’s social media posts that may harm their reputation [Neologism] Job applicants would be wise to seek the services of a digital removalist.

WoW: Verecund

1 April, 2024

VERECUND – modest; bashful; extremely shy [From Latin verēcundus diffident, from verērī to fear] The hospital interne was verecund to a point of introvert.

WoW: Taonga

25 March, 2024

TAONGA - cultural treasure, either tangible or intagible [From te reo Maori, translating as treasure] Taonga may apply to anything a people prize, be that ideas, resources, crafts or sacred objects. 

WoW: Kwashiorkor

18 March, 2024

KWASHIORKOR [kwash-ee-OR-kah] - acute malnutrition of infants and young children, especially soon after weaning [From a native Ghana word] A life-or-death matter, kwashiorkor arises from a dietary deficiency of protein.

WoW: Schleifer

18 March, 2024

SCHLEIFER [SHLY-fur] - ten-pin bowling strike where every pin seems to fall down singly in a sequence [Sporting slang from German, literally 'grinder' or 'cutter'] Nerve-racking to watch, a schliefer encapsulates domino theory in action.

WoW: Fanum Tax

11 March, 2024

FANUM TAX - (slang, humorous) a portion of food taken from a friend's plate without asking first. [Named after Bronx-born YouTuber Roberto 'Fanum' Gonzalez who popularised the prank on Kai Cenat's Twitch platform.] French fries or potato wedges are the common costs of Fanum tax.

WoW: Palapa

4 March, 2024

PALAPA -  a basic shack, or open-sided shelter, with a thatched roof made of dried palm leaves.  [perh. ‹ MexSp: a kind of palm tree] Integral to most beachside cantinas of Mexico is the adjacent relief of a palapa.

WoW: Colexify

26 February, 2024

COLEXIFY - to ascribe multiple meaning to the same word [From Latin co- (joint) plus, Greek, lexikon, dictionary] Rather than coin new words, we often colexify common words - like set or run - with yet another sense.

WoW: Gottle O' Geer

19 February, 2024

GOTTLE O' GEER - any ventriloquy utterance compromised in clarity, owing to the suppression of labial consonants [Mimicry of the notoriously difficult 'bottle of beer'] Glinky Gill is the gottle o' geer version of Blinky Bill. 

WoW: Meeple

12 February, 2024

MEEPLE - human-shaped figurine (or figurines) used in a board-game. [Blend of 'my people', attributed to American Alison Hansel, a keen player of Carcassonne, in 2000.] Game theorists quibble whether bishop chesspieces qualify as meeple.

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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