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.

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…]

The history of pants (or trousers)

Back in the 6th C BC, among the Persians and Scythians of Asia, both men and women wore trousers, for warmth and comfort, so there’s nothing new about women wearing trousers.

The word trousers comes from the Irish triús and the Scottish triubhas which also gave rise to trews, close-fitting tartan trousers. Ironically, the Scots [more…]

We’re in this together.

Hello,

As we face these unprecedented times together, I’d like to reassure you that your favourite Lovatts Crosswords & Puzzles magazines will still be available as usual – we do not expect any major disruption to our services or magazine deliveries for the foreseeable future.

I also wanted to thank you for the many heart-warming letters [more…]

Who was St Patrick? ☘️

Back in the 5th century, a young teenager Maewyn Succat lived on the west coast of Britain, maybe in Wales or Scotland. He was born to a wealthy family who had been Christian for at least three generations. His father was Calpurnius, a Roman cavalry officer and Christian deacon but Maewyn himself wasn’t a [more…]

How ‘crafty’ has changed over the years

“Facts can be turned into art if one is artful enough” – Paul Simon

I wouldn’t have thought that carpenters, stonemasons or other craftsman had a predilection for cunning strategies or slyness. Yet both artful and crafty, with their sly implications, used to mean talented and skilful. Now they are more often used to describe [more…]