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...

The New Cryptic Alphabet

29 August, 2010

Last week, over at the old Cassowary blog, we had one hell of a turbulent Brainstorm, dreaming up a new alphabet of crossword phrases that went to suggest a single letter each.

You know the kind, where petrol-head is P, or shock ending is K. At least, these are the more familiar types, often seen in cryptic clues. But the brilliance of the Brainstorm brigade conjured up 200 new versions.

We had movies: Braveheart (A), Rear Window (W) and End of Days (S).

We had rock groups: Radiohead ( R ), Living End (G), Van Halen (H) and Led Zeppelin (Z).

We had anarchic genius: startling (L), Family First (F) and violin bow (V). We even had the Pakistani batsman, Salman Butt for N. (Thanks Mr X).

But sticking to a single phrase per letter, I sifted the surge and chose these 26 creations, the inventor in question credited in brackets. Savour the collection, and watch out for any of these innovations cropping up in a cryptic near you. (PS – the overall winner is declared at the alphabet’s culmination.)

A – catgut (Mr X)

B – lead balloon (X again)

C – coalface (dg)

D – red caboose (Mauve)

E – fin-de-siecle (JD)

F – defending (PRS)

G – pig’s arse (dg)

H – middle of nowhere (DA – no real takers on the H-front)

I – frontignac (JD)

J – jump start (Mr X)

K – sharkfin (Mauve) – with dg’s backpack a close second

L – Nickelback (JD)

M – film trailer (via Mauve’s movie trailer – which I’m comm-ending!)

N – Glenn Close (Mr X)

O – apologist (Mr X) tied with PRS’s boundless joy, which gave me ditto

P – epicentre (SB)

Q – equal second (SB again)

R – rainbow (dg)

S – speed dial (dg again)

T – senseless treason (a dg threepeat!)

U – hubbub (Mr X)

V – lavender (dg)

W – Rear Window (JD)

X – soapbox (think about it – no BO – from dg)

Y – pussyfoot (Mr X)

Z – Led Zeppelin (Mr X, sustaining the spark of AS)

Phew – what an E (close finish)! Doing the grand tally, we have Mr X winning the day on 8 letters, dg on 7, with JD (4), Mauve (3), PRS and SB (both a bodacious brace) and the all-important spark of AS to get X over the line. A Storm to end all storms? Don’t you believe it. Next week, to launch the site, a new tempest is set to blow.

comments powered by Disqus

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 

read more +


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. 

read more +


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.

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