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: Austringer

13 August, 2018

AUSTRINGER [oss-TRIN-jah] - keeper of hawks; a falconer who uses hawks and other raptors for hunting; also ASTRINGER [From late Middle English, ostringer, derivative of Middle French ostour, hawk.] It will be hard to resist TREASURING when devising a clue for AUSTRINGER. 

WoW: Whoop-De-Doo

6 August, 2018

WHOOP-DE-DO - [woop-dee-DOOH]  a hump of earth, usually one in a series forming an obstacle on a BMX track; similar obstacle in an off-road car race. [Onomatopoeia of a kind, based on rider's reaction.] No life is spared a few chicanes and hazards, and the occasional whoop-de-do.

WoW: Mumblety-Peg

30 July, 2018

MUMBLETY-PEG - [also MUMBL(E)Y-PEG] - early US game in which players take turns to toss a knife or pointed stick from a series of positions, continuing until it fails to stick in the ground. [From the phrase 'mumble the peg' as the losing player was once required to pull a peg from the earth with their teeth.] To see the cowboy caper of mumblety-peg clarified, go here.

WoW: Springerle

23 July, 2018

SPRINGERLE [SHPRING-uh-lah] - anise-flavoured Christmas biscuit of Germany, boasting an embossed design made with a special rolling pin. [From German dialect, Springerle, literally ‘little jumping horses’.] This December, add a tray of springerle/s to your Yuletide buffet.

WoW: Posology

16 July, 2018

POSOLOGY [poh-SOLL-uh-gee] - branch of pharmacology dealing with the determination of dosage. [Greek poso(s) how much + -logy] Knowing which drug to prescribe is different from knowing the posology.

WoW: Carmagnole

9 July, 2018

CARMAGNOLE [CAR-mun-yole] - up-tempo song popular during the first French Revolution; meandering street dance to such a song [French version of NW Italian town of Carmagnola.] Rather than trying to describe a carmagnole, hear it here.  

WoW: Roborant

2 July, 2018

ROBORANT [ROH-bur-unt] - strength tonic; restorative elixir [From Latin roboro - I strengthen.] Protein shakes belong in the roborant category.

Tech Hiccup

27 June, 2018

I came. I emailed. I waited, and waited - but no answer from the wordsmith. What's going on?

In short, an IT glitch recently beset the site's email page, convincing senders that their emails had been sent, yet the message failed to reach my inbox. After 3 weeks of silence I'd suspected a snag and the problem has now been repaired. 

Apologies if you'd been trying to drop a line during June. The issue has now been resolved and please feel free to use the email function  - or resend your original message. 

Cheers - DA

WoW: Nefelibata

20 June, 2018

NEFELIBATA [neh-feh-LEE-bah-tuh) - person who's lost in their own imagination or dreams; one who refuses to heed the precepts of society or art [From Greek, nephelobátēs, 'one who walks the clouds'.] Walter Mitty was a nefilibata.

WoW: Haecceity

18 June, 2018

HAECCEITY [HACK-see-uh-dee] - the status of being an individual or a particular nature; that which makes something to be different from anything else; thisness. [From Latin haecce, feminine of hic - this.] Determinining haecceity among duplicated objects is a mix of bravado and futility. 

WoW: Shturmovshchina

11 June, 2018

SHTURMOVSHCHINA [shturm-OVS-chee-ner] - the practice of working manically just before a deadline. [Lit Russian: last-minute storming] Nothing incites a columnist's shturmovshchina more than knowing the copy's deadline is tomorrow.

SKillz Required

6 June, 2018

After LA's intense themer from the other week, let's enter a non-themed labyrinth, designed with devilish flair by SK, a regular cluesmith on this site.

In fact, if you like the challenge as much as I did (lapping up 1ac, 14ac, 19ac and many more), then you can find SK's SKullduggery in The Big Issue, where he plays a lot kinder! And if you don't like this week's guest grid, well, tSK-tSK. (As always, please feel free to post your feedback - or queries - in the Comments below.)

(PS - this week has seen the website switch servers, so please let me know if you experience any teething pains. Thanks - DA.)

pdf 59KB

WoW: Souterrain

4 June, 2018

SOUTERRAIN [SOO-ter-rane] - underground chamber, passage, etc.  [French souterrain, from sous under + terre earth] Champagne bottles are protected from direct sunlight by use of cellars and other souterrains. 

WoW: Rebbetzin

28 May, 2018

REBBETZIN [REB-et-dzin] - rabbi's wife [From Hebrew, rebbe - master - plus Slavic feminine -itsa, plus Yiddish feminine suffix, -in.] Should the Jewish faith every allow female rabbis, how the language reflect that equality?

Escape From LA?

22 May, 2018

Ah, but will you? That's the real question. Making his Guest Grid debut, LA begins his innings with one gnarly grid. Make that a LAbyrinth, one that relies on an intense theme you'll need to nail promptly to escape LA. 

Share your feedback, and your pleas for mercy, in the Comments below - just to allay LA. This debut is one stellar way to start a puzzle-crafting career.  

pdf 26KB

WoW: Sumpitan

21 May, 2018

SUMPITAN [SUHM-puh-tuhn] - narrow blowpipe used discharging poisoned darts, as favoured by Borneo hunters. [From Malay - narrow]  The sumpitan is slowly being replaced by modern munitions. 

WoW: Jentacular

14 May, 2018

JENTACULAR [DJEN-tack-uh-lah] - relating to breakfast, especially one taken immediately on rising. [Latin ientaculum - a breakfast taken first thing] Muesli or porridge is a customary jentacular dilemma.

WoW: Jumar

7 May, 2018

JUMAR [DJU-mah] - clamp with a handle that can move up its rope, but locks when pressure is applied downward; an ascender [Fusion of its two Swiss inventors, Jürgen  and Walter Marti] The onset of the jumar - in 1958 - has been a bonanza for alpinists. 

WoW: Boffola

30 April, 2018

BOFFOLA [BOFF-oh-luh] - joke that gets a hearty laugh; surefire routine in a stand-up's shtick. [US slang, possible corruption of 'buffoon' from Italian buffone (jester), from buffare (to puff ou cheeks)]  Neither road-crossing chickens nor interrupting cows rate as top-shelf boffola.

WoW: Anopisthograph

23 April, 2018

ANOPISTHOGRAPH [an-uh-PIS-thuh-grarf] - manuscript or book having writing on one side only of the pages. [Greek, ana (against) + opistho (behind) + graphein (to write)] As paper stock becomes more precious, the anopisthograph embodies a degree of decadence. 

Gargantuan News

Yep, my Gargantuan Book of Words is big & full of words. Not just English but secret codes, Papuan pidgin, Zulu worms, sound FX, funny goldfish, letter origami. You get the drift? It's big. It's fun. And it's out now


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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Packed with games, pickles, codes and cheesy puns, Wordburger is your chance to be a champion puzzler in 20 quick bites. Ideal for wordy kids keen to open a new language door, or grown-ups who want to cut their cryptic teeth. Click here. 

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Riddles in song, in code, in pictures. From Ireland & Wonderland, Einstein & Pompeii. Riddledom reveals 101 wry questions from 50+ languages & shares their secrets. A book to unlock culture via conundrum. Order 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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