Scrabble has its own language not common outside of the game. This page does its best to define the words, terms, acronyms, etc., that are common to organized Scrabble. Please send any additions or corrections to us by clicking here.
The pound sign is used to designate a word that is unique to the OSW or SOWPODS lexicons (e.g., ABAC#) but not acceptable in the OWL. See Official Scrabble Words, Official Tournament and Word List, and
The dollar sign is used to indicate that a word that is unique to the OWL lexicon (e.g., AGLY$) and not valid in the OSW or SOWPODS dictionaries. See Official Tournament and Word List, OSW, and SOWPODS.
The asterisk sign is used to indicate that a word that has been played is a phony (e.g., injests*). See Phony.
The question mark is commonly used to designate a blank tile. For example one might refer to a rack containing AEEIRT?, meaning they had the tiles A, E, E, I, R, T, and the BLANK. See Blank.top of page
A word created by rearranging the letters of another word. For example, an anagram of SENATOR is ATONERS; another is TREASON.
A system of associating a word with a phrase that contains all that word's potential anahooks in order to create another word. For example an anamonic for SEARCH is the phrase Men looking for women sporting sexy bodies. Every letter of the phrase Men looking for women sporting sexy bodies can be anahooked to SEARCH to form another playable word. See Anahook and Negamonic.
Adding on two or more tiles to the end of a preexisting word (e.g., adding ING to THINK to form THINKING). See Extension Play.
When all seven tiles on a player's rack are used in a single play. A Bingo play receives a 50-point bonus.
When the last play of the game is a bingo. See Bingo.
A portion of one of the rows or columns on the board where a bingo can be played.
One of the two unmarked tiles in each set of letters. The Blank can be used as any letter and has a point value of zero. See ?
In tournament play, this is a slip of paper on which a player writes down and initials the blank's designation. See Blank Designation.
A word that can't be extended or that is difficult to build on (e.g., VEXT)
Making a play that prevents your opponent from making a high-scoring play.
Playing an phony (e.g., deviaters*). Bluffing might be done purposefully in order to test your opponent's word knowledge or unintentionally because of your belief that a phony word is acceptable. Bluffing is perfectly acceptable in organized Scrabble. See * and Phony.
Any square on the board's grid, designated as a coordinate by a letter (A-O) and a number (1-15). Often used to describe the placement of a word.
Any of the squares on a Scrabble board designated as Double Letter Score, Double Word Score, Triple Letter Score, Triple Word Score.
To try to feel the surface of a tile during the draw. Brailing is considered cheating. To prevent brailing, smooth-surfaced tiles are preferred in organized Scrabble games. See Protiles.
Playing a bingo that includes a blank but accidentally misdesignating the blank so that the word is unacceptable. For example, playing the word AS?AYING and accidentally designating the blank as an A rather than an S is a Bungo. See ? and Blank Designation.
In a tournament with an uneven number of players, this is a round where a player sits out. A bye counts as a win, with 50 points added to the player's cum. See Cum.top of page
The act of disputing one or more words of your opponent's play. When a challenge is made, the clock is neutralized and the word or words are looked up. See Word Judging.
In tournament play, this is a slip of paper on which a player writes down the word(s) that he or she is challenging. That Challenge Slip is then used for Word Judging. See Word Judge.
The device used to time the 25-minute-per-game allotment per player. Electronic timers are preferred followed by analog timers, such as those used in chess.
A description of a game where plays are limited by the configuration of ties already played.
Speaking unnecessarily (social banter) during an organized Scrabble game. Coffee-housing is frowned on at organized Scrabble clubs and is against the rules at Scrabble tournaments.
A word formed from two words (e.g., adding GUN to FIRE to create GUNFIRE).
A word that is heavy in consonants (e.g., CRWTHS). See Dump.
In a tournament, the card upon which a player keeps a record of his or her games: wins, losses, cume, firsts, seconds, etc.
the act of feeling how many tiles are remaining in the bag towards the end of the game. Also checking the tiles before the game begins to ensure there are 100 tiles. See Equipment Check.
When a player has made a play and his or her opponent has called "hold," the player may draw and look at replacement tiles after one minute of hold time. These tiles should not be combined with any tiles on the player's rack. If the opponent releases the hold (accepting the play), the tiles may then be combined with the player's rack. If the opponent successfully challenges the word, the tiles from the Courtesy Rule are shown to the opponent and then returned to the bag. See Challenge and Hold.
A way of determining tournament results in which each player begins with 30 credits and gains 10 credits for a win plus 1 credit for each 10 points of point spread and loses 1 credit for each 10 points of negative point spread. Ties are awarded 35 credits to each player. See Cumulative and Tie.
A player's cum is the amount of points by which that player has won or lost a game or series of games. The Cum can be a positive or negative number or can be zero. See Spread.
One of any noncommercial or highly modified commercial Scrabble boards favored by competitive Scrabble players.
A dictionary or lexicon used for organized Scrabble play. Although they are lexicons based on dictionaries rather than actual dictionaries, the OWL2 and LWL are often referred to as the "dictionaries" used for tournaments and clubs in North America. See Long Word List and Official Tournament and Club Word List.
An individual who has been sanctioned by the National Scrabble Association to run NSA Clubs and Tournaments. A director is the final adjudicator for questions or conflicts that arise during the course of an organized Scrabble game. See National Scrabble Association.
To replenish one's rack with tiles from the bag.
Drawing a tile from the tile bag to determine who plays first in a game. The lowest tile drawn determines who plays first, with the BLANK superseding the A.
When a player's rack contains more than one of any given letter. Racks that contain Duplication are generally less Bingo Prone. See Bingo-Prone Tiles.
Acronym for a Double-Double Play.
The final plays of a game when there are less than seven tiles remaining in the Tile Pool. See Tile Pool.
Before a game begins, ensuring the proper equipment is available: a board, racks, timer, 100 tiles, etc.
Unplayed value retained on the rack after a play. Equity is often expressed in terms of point value, as in Simming. See Sim.
When a player uses his or her turn to trade in one or more tiles. An exchange scores zero points. See Pass.
A productive play that is not obvious (e.g., playing TOPSIDERS through a previously-played T and I tile)
The number of times in which a player has played first in the course of multiple games. The number of Firsts is used to help determine which player makes the Opening Play in an organized Scrabble game. See Opening Play and Seconds.
Adding two or more letters to the beginning of a preexisting word to form another word (e.g., adding RE to the beginning of PEAT to form REPEAT). See Extension Play.
The act of making the final play of the game.
Tiles or combinations of tiles that are likely to be used to score a bingo. For example AEIRST or ER?. See ?.
Pressing the button on the timer, thus starting your opponent's timer and ending your turn. See Clock
An announcement of a possible impending Challenge. The player "Holding" may use as much time as he or she wishes while deciding whether or not to Challenge. During a hold the clock is not neutralized. See Challenge and Courtesy Rule, and Neutralizing the Clock.
Commonly used to describe Scrabble games not played in a club or tournament setting.
The tiles that remain on a player's rack after he or she has played a word.
See Tile Pool.
A rated tournament whose contestants are usually limited to members of one NSA-sanctioned Scrabble club, although an exception may be made if there are two or more clubs in one area whose members attend more than one club; in that case the LCT may be open to other local players. A Local Club Tournament is conducted using the same Official Tournament Rules as a regular Tournament save that the resulting rating points are only a third the value of a regular Tournament. See Official Tournament Rules and Tournament.
Published by the NSA in early 2003 as a supplement to the OWL, this lists all words of 10-15 letters that are acceptable for organized Scrabble play in North America. See Dictionary.
A computer program often used at tournaments for Word Judging instead of calling for adjudication by an individual. See Word Judge.
The artificial intelligence software originally developed by Brian Sheppard that is the basis for most commercial Scrabble game programs.
Used to describe shuffling the tiles in the bag. An player may Mix the Tiles before his or her opponent makes the first Draw. A player should Mix the Tiles after she or he has returned tiles to the bag after an Exchange or Overdraw. See Exchange and Overdraw.
Stopping the clock's countdown in order to challenge, verify the score, or have a director adjudicate a disagreement.
Used to describe a bingo on a player's rack that does not have a playable location on the board. See Bingo.
The governing body for organized Scrabble in North America.
A dictionary of acceptable two to eight letter words and their definitions. This dictionary is used mainly for Kitchen Scrabble games and does not contain words that might be considered offensive to some person(s) or group(s) (e.g., ABO, YID, SHIT, etc.). The OWL, rather than the OSPD, is the dictionary used in all organized Scrabble play in North America. See Dictionary, Official Tournament and Club Word List, and SOWPODS.
An official reference for acceptable words in the United Kingdom, based on the Chambers English Dictionary. This reference is usually eschewed in favor of SOWPODS. See SOWPODS.
Published by the NSA, this is the official lexicon of acceptable words for organized Scrabble play in North America. See Long Words List.
The first play of a game.
Making a play on a Closed Board in order that creates other opportunities for words to be played. See Closed Board.
The final play of a game.
The act of accidentally drawing too many tiles from the bag while replenishing your rack.
When a player exceeds his or her allotted 25 minutes-per-game. A penalty of 10 points per minute or fraction thereof results.
A word played parallel to another word to form multiple words. For example playing INIA in the following play forms INIA, HI, EN, LI, and LA.
H E L L O
I N I A
Same as exchanging (e.g., "pass 3 [tiles]"). Also, a player may Pass on a turn without exchanging tiles in the hopes that he or she will be able to capitalize on the opponent's next play (e.g., if the player has a bingo that requires a certain letter to be available on the board). A third use for Pass is in the end game, when a player is simply unable to make a play and must pass his or her turn. In all cases, a Pass scores zero points. See Exchange.
Same as Cum.
Commercially manufactured plastic Scrabble tiles preferred for organized Scrabble play. Wooden tiles or other tiles with recessed letters that allow for Brailing are not allowed in tournament play.
A strategy in the End Game when you are certain your opponent has the Q tile on his or her rack and block all possible places to play it in order "stick" him or her with it and thus gain 20 points added to your final score. See Z-Stick.
See Balancing Your Rack.
A point system wherein points are added and subtracted depending on a player's previous rating, the number of games won and lost, and the ratings of the opponents against whom he or she played. This system is used by the NSA to determine overall skill level and to place contestants into appropriate divisions during tournaments.
In the case of a close or tie game, the players may choose to verify their scores by recounting each move and the points scored.
In tournament (and some club) play, each game played is considered a Round.
A 3-minute timer used in some club and tournament play.
The number of times in which a player has played second in the course of multiple games. The number of Seconds is used to help determine which player goes first in an organized Scrabble game. See Firsts.
Playing a word that you will be able to play off of or through on your next turn.
Mixing the tiles on the rack.
A method of simulating the strength of alternative plays. This is done using the Simming feature of the basic Maven program, assuming both players are experts and play perfectly. See Maven.
Same as Cum.
A word from which other words can be constructed by adding anahooks. See Anahook.
A game with more than two players where multiple players collude using on teams using one rack each.
When a game results in both players having an equal score. A Tie is treated as one half of a win.
The available letters at any stage of the game. From the standpoint of a player, the Tile Pool is the unseen letters both remaining in the bag and on the opponent's rack. Also called Letter Pool.
Also called Tracking, this is the act of keeping track of tiles —usually by crossing them off on a preprinted sheet7mdash;that have been played during the course of a game. Tile tracking is acceptable for organized Scrabble play and is especially helpful for monitoring the Tile Pool and during the End Game. See End Game and Tile Pool.
See Tile Tracking.
See Exchanging Tiles.
The dark blue square on a Scrabble board. Any tile played on a Triple Letter Score scores thrice its point value if the tile is on a single line, or six times its point value if the tile forms words on each of the two lines available. See Bonus Square and TLS.
Players are playing for "turnover" when they play as many tiles as they can in order to draw as many new tiles as possible. By playing for turnover, a player maximizes his or her chances of drawing the better tiles.
An acronym for the Official Tournament and Club Word List.
Two-letter words that can be made into 3-letter words by adding both a front and a back hook. For example MI is a Two-To-Make-Three in that it takes the front hook of A to form AMI and the back hooks B, D, G, L, M, R, S, and X to form MIB, MIG, etc. See Front Hook and Back Hook.
A word that is heavy in vowels (e.g., AALII). See Dump.
An international tournament of teams of top players representing countries with organized Scrabble organizations. Ususally played with the SOWPODS lexicon. See SOWPODS.
A strategy in the End Game when you are certain your opponent has the Z tile on his or her rack and block all possible places to play it in order "stick" him or her with it and thus gain 20 points added to your final score. See Q-Stick.