Christine Lovatt's Desk

Welcome to Christine's Desk

Here you'll find a variety of puzzle themed items and pieces of information to hold your interest. Learn about some of the wonderful words and phrases in our everyday language, find out about the health benefits of crosswords and puzzles, be entertained by Christine's Hello column… and there's much more on offer. The latest submissions appear below. Thanks for dropping by and we hope you enjoy your visit.

A fiesta of Spanish words in the English language

Or should I say Hola?  Because this column is about the Spanish language. There are approximately 405 million people in the world speaking Spanish as a native language, making it the second-most-spoken language by a number of native speakers, after Mandarin Chinese.  Spanish is also one of the six official languages of the United [more…]

Discover fascinating words that have changed their meaning

With spring marking the changing weather, when the cold winter winds are swapped for floral-filled days, it got me thinking about how the meaning of words also changes. One of the continuing controversies of my job is dealing with that fickle aspect of the English language, words that change their meaning – known as [more…]

Phrases we use from the silver screen 🎥

While many of us crave the sunshine and heat of summer, one of the silver linings of the chilly winter months is that they offer the perfect excuse to cosy up at home and get lost in our silver screen favourites. As well as an almost endless source of entertainment, I’ve found films and [more…]

Australia’s First Languages

Hello!

There is a common myth about how the kangaroo got its name. When European explorers first saw a kangaroo they asked a native Australian what it was called. The local didn’t understand the question and replied ‘kangaroo’ meaning “I don’t know” in his own language. The explorers took this to be the animal’s name. [more…]

Pass me the Termagant!

Hello!

I’ve often marvelled at the journey a word takes from its birth to its present usage, and one fine example is termagant, an answer I’ve clued before in a recent MegaMix crossword.

The word termagant means a violent, overbearing person, usually a woman. Synonyms we might use as clues are shrew, virago, harridan, formidable [more…]

Christine’s Granola Recipe

Hello,

About 10 years ago, when staying with my cousin in Ireland, we had homemade granola for breakfast every day. It was so scrumptious I begged him for the recipe. Now I make a batch every fortnight, and we have it for breakfast every 2 or 3 days. It’s so easy to make and you [more…]

The longest word in the English language

Hello!
A puzzler recently sent me an interesting extract from Mrs Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure and Preposterous Words, listing the longest word in the English language. I can’t print it here because it has 1913 letters in it. It is a chemical term, although it’s a word unlikely to have ever actually [more…]

Top 10 Misspelled Words

Spelling, put simply, is the art of correctly assembling words from their letters. And just like the passion for correct pronounciation, sorry, pronunciation, there are ardent supporters of a Zero Tolerance approach when it comes to inaccuracies.

To some, correct spelling is as sacred as religion. Sticklers we might call them. To others—a powerful world [more…]

Keeping clues accurate

When it comes to writing crossword clues, we have to be very careful when describing a word, especially when there’s another word with a similar meaning. Fortunately the other word is usually of a different length and wouldn’t fit the clue space.

However, we try to be as accurate as possible, and there are some [more…]