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.

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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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