- Which Collins dictionary dataset does the game use?
- How many words does this list contain?
- How was this word list created?
- Who uses this word list?
- Which words are eligible for inclusion?
- Which words are not eligible for inclusion?
- Why does the word list include offensive words, obsolete and archaic words, and words with unusual spellings?
- Why are there so few definitions in the Official Scrabble Dictionary?
- How were the definitions created for the Official Scrabble Dictionary?
- Why are some of the other definitions not ones that I recognise, instead of the common definitions I would expect to see?
This game uses the full official word list for Scrabble, with short, succinct definitions, published in print as:
Collins Official SCRABBLE Dictionary ISBN: 978-0-00-725908-3
This smaller dictionary contains a subset of the data in printed form, and includes only words up to 8 letters in length:
Collins SCRABBLE Dictionary ISBN: 978-0-00-721359-7
The full word list includes over 260,000 words, all of which are eligible for Scrabble.
The Scrabble word list was created by Collins in association with some of the world’s top Scrabble players, representing the World Scrabble Players’ Association (WESPA), and the Association of British Scrabble Players (ABSP). These players play a crucial role in deciding which words should be eligible for Scrabble. WESPA liaise with players in English-speaking countries worldwide to co-ordinate feedback, ideas and comments from players all over the world, such as players in Australia and New Zealand.
This word list is used by all competitive Scrabble players, playing in English, all over the world. It is the word list that is used as the authority at international competitions such as the World Scrabble Championships, at national competitions such as the UK National Scrabble Championship. It is also the word list at regional and local competitions in the UK, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, Australia and New Zealand. It is also used at club level in these countries.
All words that are used in English, anywhere in the world, and that have been already added to Collins English Dictionary, or that have strong support from overseas sources. Thus the form phenix, the American spelling of phoenix is included in the word list, as are other typically American spellings.
The vast majority of words that were also found in previous editions of the word list. Very few words have been deleted over the years, and new words are always added in to the previous edition, which in turn contains everything found in the first and subsequent editions.
- Words which are spelled with a capital letter (place names, proper names such as personal names, the days of the week, and months of the year, and adjectives relating to nationality, such as Gael, Mexican, British).
- In some cases, a word may be spelled with either a capital letter, or with a lower-case letter, depending on meaning. For example, May the month is spelled with a capital letter and is not eligible for Scrabble, whereas may the verb is spelled with a lower-case letter, and is acceptable.
- Foreign words, which have not been assimilated into English.
WESPA and ABSP advise that the players that they represent like to play with as many words as possible, and that we should not exclude any words from the list that are otherwise eligible for inclusion. This is why players will find spelling forms such dropt (as an alternative, although now old-fashioned, spelling for dropped), as well as words which may be offensive.
The main job done by the Official Scrabble Dictionary is to list – in full – every word eligible for Scrabble. Words must be given in their proper alphabetical order, so players can run their finger down the list quickly to find words that have been played, and to check for eligibility.
The dictionary definitions are only given to support the words that are eligible for Scrabble, so that if challenged, or if interested, a player can check what a word means quickly.
Players only need a very quick check of meaning, so we only give one meaning for each word, as a general principle. The definitions given are those that appear first in Collins English Dictionary. For example, at mole, the only definition given is that of ‘small dark raised spot on the skin’.
For most Scrabble players, the meaning of eligible words is of less importance that which forms of letters are eligible, how words can be added to (with front hooks and back hooks) to create new words on the board, and how words can be played parallel to each other, to create playing opportunities on the board. Meaning is secondary to these considerations.
The Official Scrabble Dictionary is not intended to be a full dictionary; it is a quick reference resource for Scrabble players.
The dictionary definitions were created using Collins English Dictionary. Where possible, definitions were taken direct from this dictionary, or were adapted from it. This means that users will find the following:
- When a word is both a plural form, and has an entry in Collins English Dictionary in its own right, it will be included in the Official Scrabble Dictionary with the definition for its own entry. So for example, bananas, which is the plural form of the noun banana, is included with its adjective definition ‘crazy’, as there is an entry for bananas with this sense in Collins English Dictionary. This only happens when the plural form is very well established in English, with this specific plural usage.
- Some definitions have been shortened, for example at wasteful, Collins English Dictionary gives the full definition as ‘tending to waste or squander; wasteful; extravagant’; this is simplified to ‘extravagant’ in the Official Scrabble Dictionary.
In a number of places, we give archaic or unusual definitions of words to ensure that inflected forms of those words are properly covered in the dictionary. For example:
- Quite – archaic form of ‘quit’. We need to give this definition for the archaic verb to allow the inflected verbs forms quites, quited, quiting (which are all eligible for Scrabble). If we were to give a definition for the adverb quite meaning ‘to some extent’, then the cross references in the data from quites, quited, quiting would be blind cross references, then could not refer to quite in the adverb sense, and there would be no definitions for these forms covered in the data. (The dataset would then have unacceptable internal inconsistencies.) The same occurs at rude, where the definition ‘archaic spelling of rood’ is needed to allow for the inflected form rudes.
- At semi, the definition given must be for one of the noun uses of this word. The prefix semi-, which some users may feel is the more common form, isn’t eligible for Scrabble, as it is not used on its own but as part of another word. Thus semi is definition as a ‘semidetached house’, which also covers the form semis, which is cross-referred to it.