EW! that’s OK

Scrab­ble dic­tionary adds 300 words

Whangarei Report - - ENTERTAINMENT -

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

Mer­riam-web­ster has re­leased the sixth edi­tion of The Of­fi­cial Scrab­ble Play­ers Dic­tionary, four years af­ter the last fresh­en­ing up. The com­pany, at the be­hest of Scrab­ble owner Has­bro Inc, left out one pos­si­bil­ity un­der con­sid­er­a­tion for a hot minute — RBI — af­ter con­sult­ing com­pet­i­tive play­ers who thought it po­ten­tially too con­tentious. There was a re­mote case to be made since RBI has mor­phed into an ac­tual word, pro­nounced rib-ee.

But that’s OK be­cause, “OK”.

“OK is some­thing Scrab­ble play­ers have been wait­ing for, for a long time,” said lex­i­cog­ra­pher Peter Sokolowski, ed­i­tor at large at Mer­riam-web­ster. “Ba­si­cally twoand three-let­ter words are the lifeblood of the game.”

There’s more good news in qapik, adding to an arse­nal of 20 playable words be­gin­ning with q that don’t need a u. Not that Scrab­blers care all that much about def­i­ni­tions, qapik is a mone­tary unit in Azer­bai­jan.

“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 — yes — a small plane used for busi­ness, would be worth a whop­ping 120 points on an open­ing play, but only if it’s made into a plu­ral with an s. That’s due to the 50-point bonus for us­ing all seven tiles and the dou­ble word bonus space usu­ally played at the start.

The Spring­field, Mass­a­chu­setts-based 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. Since an of­fi­cial dic­tionary was cre­ated, it has been up­dated ev­ery four to eight years.

There are other new en­tries 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.

“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,” he said.

Like ew, there’s an­other in­ter­jec­tion now in play, yowza, along with a word some might have thought was al­ready al­lowed: zen. There’s of­ten chat­ter around Scrab­ble boards over which for­eign words have been ac­cepted into English to the de­gree they’re playable.

Say hello to schneid, an­other of the new kids, this one with Ger­man roots. It’s a sports term for a los­ing streak. Other for­eign­ers added be­cause they pre­dom­i­nantly no longer re­quire lin­guis­tic white gloves, such as ital­ics or quo­ta­tion marks: bibim­bap, cotija and sriracha.

Scrab­ble was first trade­marked as such in 1948, af­ter it was thought up un­der a dif­fer­ent name in 1933 by Al­fred Mosher Butts, an out-of-work ar­chi­tect in Pough­keep­sie, New York. In­ter­est in the game picked up in the early 1950s, ac­cord­ing to le­gend, when the pres­i­dent of Macy’s hap­pened upon it while on va­ca­tion. Now, the of­fi­cial dic­tionary holds more than 100,000 words.

Other new­com­ers Sokolowski shared are aquafaba, beat­down, zom­boid, twerk, sheeple, way­back, bokeh, bot­net, emoji, facepalm, frowny, hive­mind, pug­gle and nub­ber.

Ew, an in­ter­jec­tion used to ex­press dis­gust, is now of­fi­cially al­lowed in Scrab­ble.

Pho­tos / AP

Also al­lowed: Sheeple, who are peo­ple likened to sheep; and Yowza, used to ex­press sur­prise.

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