Having a wide vocabulary is admirable, but for a Scrabble player, having the right vocabulary is vital. Top Scrabble players know dozens of two-letter words and all sorts of ways to use “Z,” “J,” “K,” and “Q” without “U.” These letters are the big point-getters, but playing them is just one of the strategies to win during game nights.
“Bingo” is when a player uses all seven letters on the rack at once — it’s worth a bonus 50 points. Some casual players might go their whole lives without playing a bingo, but expert players often clear the rack several times in one game.
This strategy gets easier with practice, according to nationally ranked Scrabble player Mark Abadi. He suggests finding prefixes and suffixes among your tiles to form longer words. For example, “sub,” “over,” and “re” are common prefixes. Add the suffixes “ic” or “al” onto the end of a noun to turn it into an adjective. More common suffixes include “ing,” “ed,” and “able.” Add “ing” to the word “curl” or “sell” and you can play a bingo.
There are just over 100 two-letter words accepted in Scrabble. These can be your best friend, especially when you’re able to play them on bonus spaces that can double and triple your word score. Even if you’ll never be able to work one of these into small talk in the office, they’re crucial for your Scrabble game.
aa rough, cindery lava
ai three-toed sloth
ba eternal soul in Egyptian mythology
de of, from
id part of psyche related to instinctual impulses
od hypothetical force of natural power
oe Faroean wind
op style of abstract art
ut musical tone in French solmization system
xu Vietnamese monetary unit
Too Many Vowels
If you find yourself with all the “aeiou-s” in sight, but nary a consonant, don’t despair. There are plenty of words that are heavy on vowels and light on consonants. Try to memorize this small selection:
ilia a bone of the pelvis
etui a case for holding small articles
ogee an S-shaped molding
roue a lecherous man
aalii a tropical tree
aecia spore-producing organs of certain fungi
aurei gold coins of ancient Rome
zoeae larvals form of certain crustaceans
Not Enough Vowels
If you have the opposite problem and are facing a jumble of consonants on your letter rack, again, take solace. There are options, including:
cwm a cirque
tsk to utter an exclamation of annoyance
pyx a container in which the eucharistic bread is kept
psst used to attract someone's attention
crwth an ancient stringed musical instrument
ghyll a ravine
phpht interjection — pht
hwyls an emotion that inspires impassioned eloquence
syncs to cause to operate in unison
"Q" Without "U"
There are about 50 words that contain a “Q” without a “U.” Get to know these and you’ll surely increase your score instead of waiting around to draw a U. You’ll notice that many of these words are drawn from other languages, which have different spelling rules than English, but they are still valid in the Scrabble dictionary.
qi the vital force that in Chinese thought is inherent in all things
qat the leaves of an Arabian shrub
qaid a Muslim local administrator, judge, and tax collector
qoph the 19th letter of the Hebrew alphabet
qapik a monetary subunit of the manat (Azerbaijan)
niqab a veil worn by some Muslim women
qawwali a style of Muslim music
Even if you weren’t an “A” English student, the popular word game is all about math in the end. There are 100 tiles and 61 bonus squares on a 15x15 board. A good strategy is to build letters around the highest scoring tiles: “Q” (10), “Z” (10), “X” (8), and “J” (8). These letters are in thousands of words in various combinations.
And in case you were wondering, “oxyphenbutazone” is the hypothetical highest scoring word in scrabble at 1,778 points (check the math here).
Featured image credit: Rena-Marie/ iStock