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: Aboardage

8 August, 2022

ABOARDAGE - side-on collision between two vessels, often with one at slight angle [From aboard, plus -age] Slack moorage leads to likely aboardage.

WoW: Famulus

1 August, 2022

FAMULUS - a sorceror's assistant [Latin: servant] In Fantasia, Mickey Mouse plays the famulus of a magical animator named Yen Sid.

WoW: Plowter

25 July, 2022

PLOWTER - to play in mud; to slosh through puddles; to potter about [Scottish, of origin unknown] Childhood is your prime time for a quality plowter.

WoW: Morbidezza

18 July, 2022

MORBIDEZZA [maw-bid-DAIRTZ- sensuous representation of flesh tones in a painting;  an extreme delicacy or softness [Via Italian, literally: softness] Botticelli was noted for the morbidezza of his Venus.

WoW: Rhamphoid

11 July, 2022

RHAMPHOID [ram-FOYD] - beak-like or beak-related; regarding a cusp in trigonometry [From Greek, rhámphos - beak] Toucans boast rhamphoid iridescence.

WoW: Wergild

4 July, 2022

WERGILD [whirr-GUILD] - the price set on a man's life (during both Anglo-Saxon and Germanic law codes), where the sum us to be paid as compensation by his slayer [From Old English wer - man, plus gield tribute] To be clear, the gala cost of $200 per head is the evening's cost, not each guest's wergild. 

WoW: Heisenbug

27 June, 2022

HEISENBUG - slang for an IT glitch that mutates, giving varying results, or vanishes when you try to isolate it. [Pun based on  Werner Heisenberg, founder of the uncertainty principle] On top of heisenbugs, coders also talk of hindenbugs (bugs with disastrous consequences) and higgs-bugsons (minuscule program flaws). 

WoW: Etrier

20 June, 2022

ETRIER [air-TREE-ay] - portable rope ladder of webbed loops used by mountain climbers [French: stirrup] Ascending alps via etrier may cause dissent.

WoW: Variorum

13 June, 2022

VARIORUM [vair-ee-OR-rum] - a publication or manuscript containing multiple notes from diverse scholars; adjective - owning disparate inputs [Derived from Latin phrase: ēditiō cum notīs variōrum - 'edition with the notes of various commentators'] Coriolanus is a variorum among many other original Shakespeare texts, laden with the marginalia of many directors and scholars.

WoW: Omakase

6 June, 2022

OMAKASE [om-ah-kar-say] - style (or option) of Japanese dining where the diner entrusts the chef to select each dish; chef's choice [Literally 'it's up to you'] Omakase is a shrewd strategy with non-English menus.

WoW: Endorheic

30 May, 2022

ENDORHEIC [end-aw-RAY-ic] of a basin or lake with no outflow, only losing water via seepage or evaporation [From Greek, endo- inside, plus rheo, to gush or stream.] Puddles are typically endorheic. 

WoW: Zellige

23 May, 2022

ZELLIGE [zair-LIG-guh] - Moroccan-style tilework of enamelled terracotta chips embedded within plaster [From Arabic, zillīj (زليج), linked to zalaja (زَلَجَ): to slide, alluding to the tiles' smooth surface.] Zellige is more commonly dubbed Moroccan mosaic. 

WoW: Pengci

16 May, 2022

PENGCI [pehn-SHEE] - a scam involving inferior, fragile products, placed where they may be easily damaged, drawing exorbitant costs of compensation. [Cantonese literally: touching-porcelain] When pengci is in play, a street vendor might pull $100 from a patsy for one broken piece of trashy crockery.

WoW: Camogie

9 May, 2022

CAMOGIE [car-MO-ghee] - Irish stick-and-ball team sport played by women, the female equivalent of hurling. [Named by Irish poet Tadhg Ua Donnchadha in 1903, based on a diminutive form of 'caman' - or curved stick.] Beckett scholars will know camogie earns a reference in Waiting For Godot.

WoW: Faute de Mieux

2 May, 2022

FAUTE DE MIEUX [phote-duh-me-UWW] - for lack of something better or more desirable; a bearable compromise; makeshift [French, literally 'for lack of better'] Democracy and TV viewing can often invoke faute de mieux.

WoW: Allochroic

25 April, 2022

ALLOCHROIC [all-oh-CROW-ick] - capable of changing colour; of changeable colour [From Greek, 'changed in colour' plus -ic] Cuttlefish and chameleons are both allochroic.

WoW: Simuldraineous

18 April, 2022

SIMULDRAINEOUS [pinball slang] - of a multiball game when every ball leaves the playing table at the same time; also called drainsplosion. [Blend of drain - a pinball's death gullet - and simultaneous] For more pinball slang, like drianbow and peavlering, check out Fun With Bonus.

WoW: Colemak

18 April, 2022

COLEMAK - alternative to the QWERTY keyboard, designed on ergonomic principles by software engineer Shai Coleman [Partial eponym of Coleman in combination with Dvorak, another QWERTY alternative.] A registered trademark from 2006, the Colemak keyboard has the most common letters as central home-keys.

WoW: Verkrampte

11 April, 2022

VERKRAMPTE [vuh-KRUMP-tuh] - an Afrikaner Nationalist (during apartheid) who opposed any changes toward liberal trends in policy, especially those relating to racial questions [Afrikaans, literally: restricted]  From 1948 until the early 90s, a typical vekrampte insisted on a rigid adherence to apartheid protocol. 

WoW: Tobiano

4 April, 2022

TOBIANO - of a horse having large white patches; skewbald; pinto [Deemed a Latin American corruption of Tobias, a Dutch name, reflecting the horses' European roots.] "Hi-ho my little tobiano!" sounds a sweeter alternative for the Lone Ranger.

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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