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.

Loading tweet...

WoW: Bothsidesism

18 November, 2019

BOTHSIDESISM - tendency to treat all policy debates as if opposing sides present equally sound arguments; whataboutism [Neologism generated by Trump's ambivalent response to the violent Unite the Right rally in Virginia, 2017] False balance - ensuring every news story includes a counterview - falls into bothsidesism.

WoW: Quaquaversal

11 November, 2019

QUAQUAVERSAL [KWAR-ka-VER-suhl] - radiating outwards in all directions from a common centre. [From Latin quāquā in every direction, plus versus towards] Daisy petals - whether 'they love you or not' - are quaquaversal. 

WoW: Feghoot

4 November, 2019

FEGHOOT - Humorous story often ending in a pun, or rejigged version of a familiar phrase; a shaggy-dog tale [From sci-fi writer Reginald Bretnor - under his anagram of Grendel Briarton - who developed the format in a series of stories - 'Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot' - from 1956-1973.] Each elaborate tale told by Denis Norden and Frank Muir on 'My Word' was essentially a feghoot.

WoW: Malaphor

28 October, 2019

MALAPHOR - a mangled metaphor, or flawed idiom blend, such as 'spanner in the ointment' or 'that's the way the cookie bounces' [Fusion malapropism + metaphor, attributed to Lawrence Harrison in Washington Post article "Searching for Malaphors" (Aug. 6, 1976).] Finding malaphor examples is not rocket surgery.

Huh 58

22 October, 2019

Another dose of cryptic dypepsia - at least those British clues inflicting unrest and unease in my system. While I can glimpse the general sense behind most of these, all eight clues possess an element I've yet to plumb in full. So if you can diagnose my aggravations, I'd be one grateful inpatient. 

And as some extra bout of rehab, see what clues you can craft for the same answers. Treat the therapy as extension of the weekly WoW regimen. Cheers, and thanks in advance.

1. Dumb, forms words silently in turn, picking Oscar out = SHTUM  [Times 11, 598]

2. Parisian refusal put on commune eating aristo food, say = COLLECTIVE NOUN [Times 11, 594]

3. Adherents of cleric, last out of church, first to enter coach = BUDDHISTS [as above]

4. Novel campanologist the Sunday after Easter = QUASIMODO [ditto - that puzzle was a delightful house of pain]

5. Are you wearing a tie? So dine perhaps = A LA CARTE [Times 11,608]

6. Woman briefly recalled what may be top of volcano = ISLE  [Times 11,605]

7. Share Jill Masterson's fate? Cheerio! = ADIEU [Times 11,619]

8. Hearing warning of attack, left =AURAL [Times 11,630]

WoW: Genethliac

21 October, 2019

GENETHLIAC - relating to birthdays [From Greek genethlē race, family, offspring, from the stem of gignesthai to be born] Household candles remain relevant for blackout measures and genethliac duties.

WoW: Snoutband

14 October, 2019

SNOUTBAND - someone who rudely and continuously interrupts in order to assert their own opinion. [Bridle strap allusion to nosiness.] Mansplaining is common outbreak of the everyday snoutband.

WoW: Eustress

7 October, 2019

EUSTRESS [YEW-stress] beneficial stress [Coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye in the 1950s. From Greek eu- (good) + stress, linked to Latin stringere: to bind.] At its optimum, eustress hones focus and effort, as any cryptic devotee can report.

WoW: Untourism

30 September, 2019

UNTOURISM -  practice of seeking out destinations seldom visited by tourists in the hope of having some real cultural exchanges. [Tourism -  from old French tor, tourntourn "a turn, trick, circuit" from Latin tornos - lathe.] While overseas, leaving a train at random stations will improve the odds of untourism.

WoW: Clathrate

23 September, 2019

CLATHRATE - lattice-shaped; a compound wherein molecules of one component are trapped inside the crystal structure of another [From Latin from clathri - lattice bars - via Greek klēthra] Icecream pools into the sockets of clathrate waffles.

WoW: Moulin

16 September, 2019

MOULIN [MOO-lin] - cylindrical shaft that extends through a glacier, one that's carved by meltwater from the surface [From Latin molinum - a mill or grindstone] Robert Macfarlane rappels into a moulin's maw as part of his latest nature paean, Underland.

WoW: Scaramucci

9 September, 2019

SCARAMUCCI [skar-ah-MOO-chee] - ten-day period between a person's hiring to firing; also SCARAMOOCH or MOOCH. [Named after White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci who was dismissed by the Trump administration almost as quickly as was hired.] Volatile executives may only last half a Scarmucci in the top job.

WoW: Soigné

2 September, 2019

SOIGNÉ [swan-YAY] - elegantly dressed or well groomed. [From past participle of French soigner ‘take care of’, from soin ‘care’] Audrey Hepburn is the epitome of soigné.

WoW: Neanimorphism

26 August, 2019

NEANIMORPHISM - the quality of looking younger than your age. [From Latin neanias - young man - plus Greek morphe - shape or form.] Yak milk and Photoshop are the two secrets of neanimorphism.

WoW: Graupel

19 August, 2019

GRAUPEL [graw-PEL]- soft hail-like precipitation consisting of condensed snow pellets. [From German diminutive of Graupe, hulled grain; akin to Russian krupa, groats.] As a fiddler on the roof, Topol had to watch out for graupel. 

WoW: Warnock's Dilemma

12 August, 2019

WARNOCK'S DILEMMA - online scenario where a blog post or forum article attracts zero responses due to (a) indifference, (b) absence of readers, or (c) the post's completeness - where nothing more needs to be added. [Named after US Usenet observer Bryan Warnock in 2000.] To be pedantic, Warnock's Dilemma is more a trilemma of possibilities, or more going by the man's manifesto

WoW: Shuriken

5 August, 2019

SHURIKEN [shooh-ruh-KEN] - a concealed star-shaped weapon thrown by ninjas or other assailants as an aerial dagger or distraction. [Japanese 'hidden hand blade'] The shuriken is also known as a throwing star - or ninja star.

Huh 57

31 July, 2019

Long overdue for an opaque clue or two. Below is a batch of perplexing clues drawn from an array of British puzzles, with each of them still thwarting my bid to grasp the wordplay in full. If you think you can shed some light on the matter - any of these matters - then your counsel is encouraged.

(And if you feel like some freewheeling clue-mongering, then you're welcome to conjure original clues for the same answers. A chance to strut with 'normal' words, away from the WoW challenges.) Thanks for both in advance.

1. Stitch finally made runner fall = PURLER (Times 11,453)

2. Attending party in NI, doctor by nature smart = DRESSED UP   (Times 11,456)

3. Picks up brown coat leader of hospital body’s dropped = RUSTS  (Times 11,457)

4. It follows funk broadcast in European city = SOFIA (Times, 11,449)

5. Man with cross to bear: that’s self-evident = AXIOM (as above)

6. Reduced opening for leasing arrangement = GROUND RENT  (Times 11,499)

7. Plant by seawater never appearing evenly = YEW TREE (Loglady - The Indy)

WoW: Oniochalasia

29 July, 2019

ONIOCHALASIA [ON-ee-oh-CARL-ay-zhe-uh] - purchasing of objects as a form of mental relaxation; retail therapy. [Greek onios - for sale - plus chalasis: loosening, relaxing.] Bookshops are where I practise my oniochalasia.

WoW: Toodlembuc

22 July, 2019

TOODLEMBUC - game-of-chance device consisting of a skewer, a cotton reel, and a disc marked in sectors, each bearing a horse's name and odds proportional to sector size ; also toodle-em-buck [From 'toodle doodle' reduplicative aligned with spinning, plus 'em them + buck - a gambling marker] Bet you can't find a toodlembuc image, as a roulette diagram was the nearest I managed. 

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

read more +

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.

read more +

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 

read more +

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
See Results