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: 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.

WoW: Carioca

5 February, 2024

CARIOCA - Rio resident; samba variant; sideways dance step where one leg crosses the other. [Literally 'white house' in Tupi, a native language of Brazil.] The carioca equivalent can be seen in equestrian events. 

WoW: Pommer's Law

29 January, 2024

POMMER'S LAW - a rule stating, 'A person's mind can be changed by reading info online, whereby the nature of this change will be from having no opinion to having a wrong opinion.' [Named after Wiki contributor, Rob Pommer in early 2007] Public health policies can be hampered by volatile lobby groups, swung via Pommer's Law

WoW: Festucine

22 January, 2024

FESTUCINE [fair-STOO-sign] - straw-coloured; greenish-yellow [From Latin festula  - stalk or straw, the same origin of fescue, a teacher's pointer.] Sauvignon blanc is festucine.

WoW: Dumaresq

15 January, 2024

DUMARESQ - mechanical device gauging the speed of an enemy ship,  or missile. [Named after its inventor RN Lieutenant John Dumaresq who applied a set of sliding and rotating bars to emulate the motion of two ships.] The dumaresq was used during both World Wars as a complement to the Vickers range clock.

WoW: Khedda

8 January, 2024

KHEDDA (or khedah or keddah) - an enclosure into which wild elephants are driven to be captured; an elephant trap [From Hindi] The khedda is the sheep pen of the savannah.

WoW: Act blur

1 January, 2024

ACT BLUR - feign ignorance [From Singlish - or Singapore English] Different from the general blur of New Year's Eve, to act blur is to pretend oblivion about a divisive or shaming topic. 

WoW: Supererogate

25 December, 2023

SUPEREROGATE - to go beyond what was asked; to do or pay more than needed. [From Latin super-, above, plus ērogāre - to pay out, from rogāre, to ask.] A salute to all parents who supererogate during Christmas, as they vie to maintain family budgets and harmony. 

WoW: Electuary

18 December, 2023

ELECTUARY - a balm or medicine originally made to be licked by the patient, but now any tablet sweetened for easier intake. [From Greek ekleikhein to lick out,  via leikhein to lick] A strep-throat lollipop is your quintessential electuary.

WoW: Pozidriv

11 December, 2023

POZIDRIV - upgraded version of the Phillips'  head screwdriver, where the screw's  starlike indentation allows for greater torque and security. [Trademark] Tradies know that PZ on the spec sheet stands for Pozidriv screws.

WoW: Codon

4 December, 2023

CODON -  a sequence of three adjacent bases on a DNA strand; a trumpet's flaring mouth; a hand-bell used to summon monks [Code-on for meaning 1; and codon - mediaeval Latin  for handbell - for meanings 2 & 3] Monastery crypts may hold the codon of the original codon-ringer. 

WoW: Algospeak

27 November, 2023

ALGOSPEAK - coded language - where sex is seggs, say - used on social media in order to sidestep moderation systems [Short for algorithm-speak]. Suicide in algospeak is unalive - as a verb - to keep platform alerts quiet. 

WoW: Sphexish

20 November, 2023

SPHEXISH [SFEX-ish] - wasp-like; fixed in one's behaviour. [From Greek sphex, sand wasp. Coined in 1982 by US scientist and literary scholar, observing the robot-like determinism of the solitary digger wasp.] Those held hostage by their own instincts are deemed to be sphexish.

WoW: Barani

13 November, 2023

BARANI - an aerial front flip followed by a half-twist, or 180-degree turn; also called a BARANI FLIP. [Named after Italian acrobat, Alfonso Barani who performed the trick in 1881.] The barani is a dazzling staple of circus, snowboarding and trampoline routines. 

WoW: Trunnion

6 November, 2023

TRUNNION - a cannon's mounting, allowing the weapon to pivot or adjust its elevation. [From Old French, trognon - or trunk, stump.] Without its trunnion, a cannon would only serve if the target matched the muzzle's direction and angle.

WoW: Sprezzatura

30 October, 2023

SPREZZATURA - the art of doing a difficult task with effortless grace. [Italian for 'nonchalance', a quality popularised in the 1520s by diplomat, Baldassare Castiglione, seen here in Raphael's portrait.] More recently, sprezzatura has been aligned with the carefree flow of masterful artwork.

WoW: Filemot

23 October, 2023

FILEMOT [FILL-eh-mo] - dull or yellowish brown [Anglicised version of French feuillemorte - a dead leaf] Autumn is a hymn to the filemot spectrum.

WoW: Canary Trap

16 October, 2023

CANARY TRAP - ruse designed to expose an informer, whereby suspected leaks are supplied differing information [Popularised by Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan novels - also called the barium meal test.] Language use as much as particular data are integral to the canary trap. 

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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