Scrabble players are being given an extra 300 new words, including some long-awaited two-letter 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. “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 words that are ideal for using up vowels, such as arancini, Italian balls of cooked rice.
Bizjet, meaning a small plane used for business, would be worth 120 points on an opening play, but only if it is made into a plural with an s.
That is because of 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, Sokolowski said, “to make sure that they agree these words are desirable”. Sokolowski has a favourite 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 flavours 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. It has been updated every four to eight years.
“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 getting a new group of spellings for the dictionary.”