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

The official dictionary is supposed to stop arguments among players. Credit: PA

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.

“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.”

  • Some of the newly-accepted words include:
Yowza
Used to express surprise or amazement
Macaron
A light, often brightly coloured sandwich cookie consisting of two rounded disks
Sheeple
People who are docile, compliant, or easily influenced
Ew
Used to express disgust at something distasteful or repellent
Botnet
A network of computers that have been linked together by malware
Frowny
To contract the brow in displeasure or concentration

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.

Other newly-acceptable words are:

  • aquafaba - the liquid that results when beans are cooked in water
  • beatdown - a violent physical beating
  • zomboid - a will-less and speechless human held to have died and been supernaturally reanimated
  • twerk - sexually suggestive dancing characterised by rapid, repeated hip thrusts and shaking of the buttocks especially while squatting
  • wayback - the area in the back of a van, station wagon, or SUV
  • bokeh - the blurred quality or effect seen in the out-of-focus portion of a photograph taken with a narrow depth of field
  • emoji - any of various small images, symbols, or icons used in text fields in electronic communication to express the emotional attitude of the writer, convey information succinctly or communicate a message playfully without using words
  • facepalm - to cover one's face with the hand as an expression of embarrassment, dismay, or exasperation
  • hivemind - the collective mental activity expressed in the complex, coordinated behavior of a colony of social insects regarded as comparable to a single mind controlling the behavior of an individual organism
  • puggle - a dog that is a cross between a pug and a beagle
  • nubber - a weakly hit ground ball
Credit: PA

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.