Wednesday 14 November 2018

Scrabble adds 300 new words and finally it’s OK to put down OK

The official Scrabble dictionary designates acceptable words.

The official dictionary is supposed to stop arguments among players (Michael Bowles/Deft Productions)
The official dictionary is supposed to stop arguments among players (Michael Bowles/Deft Productions)

By Leanne Italie, Associated Press

Scrabble players, time to rethink your game because 300 new words are coming your way, including some long-awaited gems: OK and ew.

Merriam-Webster released the sixth edition of The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, four years after the last freshening up.

“OK is something Scrabble players have been waiting for, for a long time,” said lexicographer Peter Sokolowski, editor at large at Merriam-Webster.

Every time there's a word with q and no u, it's a big deal Peter Sokolowski

“Basically two and three-letter words are the lifeblood of the game.”

There is more good news in qapik – a unit of currency in Azerbaijan – adding to an arsenal of 20 playable words beginning with q that do not need a u.

“Every time there’s a word with q and no u, it’s a big deal,” Sokolowski said. “Most of these are obscure.”

There are some sweet scorers now eligible for play, including bizjet, and some magical vowel dumps, such as arancini, those Italian balls of cooked rice.

Bizjet, meaning a small plane used for business, would be worth a whopping 120 points on an opening play, but only if it is made into a plural with an s.

That is due to the 50-point bonus for using all seven tiles and the double word bonus space usually played at the start.

The US dictionary company sought counsel from the North American Scrabble Players Association when updating the book, Mr Sokolowski said, “to make sure that they agree these words are desirable”.

Mr Sokolowski has a favorite among the new words but not, primarily, because of Scrabble scores.

“It’s macaron,” he said, referring to the delicate French sandwich cookie featuring different flavors and fillings.

“I just like what it means,” he said.

Merriam-Webster put out the first official Scrabble dictionary in 1976.

Before that, the game’s rules called for any desk dictionary to be consulted.

Since an official dictionary was created, it has been updated every four to eight years.

There are other new entries Mr Sokolowski likes, from a wordsmith’s view.

“I think ew is interesting because it expresses something new about what we’re seeing in language, which is to say that we are now incorporating more of what you might call transcribed speech,” he said.

“Sounds like ew or mm-hmm, or other things like coulda or kinda.

“Traditionally, they were not in the dictionary but because so much of our communication is texting and social media that is written language, we are finding more transcribed speech and getting a new group of spellings for the dictionary.”

Yowza is now allowed, along with a word some might have thought was already allowed: zen.

Some foreign words have been accepted into English to the degree that they are playable, for example schneid, which has German roots and is a sports term for a losing streak.

Other new acceptable words are aquafaba, beatdown, zomboid, twerk, sheeple, wayback, bokeh, botnet, emoji, facepalm, frowny, hivemind, puggle and nubber.

Press Association

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