For lovers of words, the ultimate game is Scrabble, and there’s no better day to play it than today. It’s National Scrabble Day, so forget going out raving or clubbing this Friday night and instead why not grab your rack, shake your sack and have a night on the tiles with a special someone?
Unless you’re an avid player, you might not realise that there is an official Scrabble Dictionary. Compiled by Collins, it’s used by serious Scrabble players in the UK to determine which words can and can’t be played, and like all dictionaries, it’s not static – new words are added roughly every five years.
In recent years, many new words have come into usage thanks to the internet and social media, and a good number of them have found their way into the Collins book. You can now play any of the below, and if you (or your opponent) don’t believe me, they can all be confirmed by Collins’ Official Word Check tool.
The letter ‘V’ is perhaps the most awkward on to pick up in Scrabble. Only worth a fairly miserly four points, it’s the only letter not contained in any valid two-letter words, which means that it’s as well to know as many three- and four-letter words containing it as possible. Video blogging has created the helpful portmanteau word VLOG, which can get rid of a pretty ugly bunch of letters.
It’s a nightmare when you pick up a whole rack of vowels or consonants, but even with the most desperate of racks, there’s usually something you can play. One of the few valid words containing no vowels is PWN. With its roots in online gaming, to ‘pwn’ someone is to defeat or humiliate them, although I haven’t seen or heard it for a while now!
Most people will be familiar with the term WIKI thanks to Wikipedia, but it can be a word for any website where content is mostly created by users. It’s a helpful word to know because ‘K’ is a high-scoring letter and having two I’s on your rack can be unhelpful.
The ‘J’ is worth eight points, so it’s good to know some short words containing it. The emoji phenomenon even spawned its own film last year, so it’s not surprising that the Japanese symbols are now widely known enough for the word to be valid in Scrabble.
If you find yourself amused during a game of Scrabble, you can now express your mirth with this helpful word. ‘Z’ and ‘Q’ are the highest-scoring letters, worth 10 points each, so this is a hugely useful word that’s rarely seen or heard offline. LULZ is also valid, and has the same meaning.
It’s not surprising that HASHTAG is now in the dictionary, but Collins has also given the OK to BASHTAG – a hashtag used for abusive purposes. You get 50 bonus points if you use all seven letters in one turn, and this word would be a great way to do it.
“But that’s a brand name!” I hear you cry. It is, and so are HOOVER, TANNOY, JACUZZI, VELCRO and XEROX, but they’re all widely used enough to be valid in Scrabble and indeed everyday conversation. People talk of ‘Facebooking’ someone, meaning either looking them up on Facebook or messaging them through it, so why shouldn’t it be allowed?
The next update to the Scrabble dictionary is sure to see the addition of BREXIT, but no doubt there will be all kinds of internet and tech terms too, giving players a fresh tapestry of unusual words to work from and meaning digital nerds can even back them up with definitions.