Scrabble Words

Guest writer Bonnie Trenga Mills takes us on a fun romp through some quirky words you may see when you're playing Scrabble.

Bonnie Trenga Mills, read by Mignon Fogarty,
November 21, 2013
Episode #391

Page 2 of 2

We’re talking about words that appear to be brand names, which are capitalized, and the rules from the Hasbro Website clearly state that “always capitalized” words are not allowed. Words like benadryl, jello, and vaseline are in this list of accidentally omitted words. These seem to be always capitalized brand names, and by putting that squiggly red line under these words, Microsoft Word is pointedly requesting they be capitalized. Perhaps the Dictionary Committee feels that these words are evolving from trademarked names into generic terms. Many words, such as linoleum, thermos, and videotape, have gone this route (8). Language is always changing, so maybe these words are examples of this phenomenon. Whatever our personal opinions about the legality of certain Scrabble words, we don’t make the rules, but it does appear that the Dictionary Committee welcomes being contacted (9).

Final Thoughts

If you’re playing the actual board game casually with friends, make sure you all agree on which dictionary to use in case you have a dispute. If you’re playing on your phone, you’re at the whim of the dictionary that’s programmed into the game. 

No matter what, the game is fun, and you’ll probably learn some new words. If you don’t play, you’ll miss out on looking up words like spanworm (a very large family of worms) (10) and tufoli (a kind of pasta shell) (11).

This podcast was written by Bonnie Trenga Mills author of The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier, who blogs at sentencesleuth.blogspot.com


1. Hasbro Website. SCRABBLE History. http://www.hasbro.com/scrabble/en_US/story.cfm

2. North American SCRABBLE Players Association NASPAWiki. Dictionary Committee. http://www.scrabbleplayers.org/w/Dictionary_Committee.

3. Hasbro Website. General SCRABBLE Game FAQ. http://www.hasbro.com/scrabble/en_US/faqGeneral.cfm.

4. Hasbro Website. SCRABBLE Rules. http://www.hasbro.com/scrabble/en_US/rulesSetup.cfm

5. Mike Wolfberg’s SCRABBLE Page. All 101 Two-Letter Words Acceptable in the OSPD4. http://www.wolfberg.net/scrabble/wordlists/OSPD4/twos/

6. The Free Dictionary. “Za” Entry. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/za

7. North American SCRABBLE Players Association NASPAWiki. Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary. http://www.scrabbleplayers.org/w/Official_SCRABBLE_Players_Dictionary#column-one

8. Wikipedia. List of Generic and Genericized Trademarks. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_generic_and_genericized_trademarks

9. North American SCRABBLE Players Association NASPAWiki. Dictionary Committee. http://www.scrabbleplayers.org/w/Dictionary_Committee.

10. University of Maine Website. Insects (Maine Cranberries) – Spanworms. http://umaine.edu/cranberries/grower-services/insects/spanworms/


11. Merriam-Webster. “Tufoli” Entry. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tufoli

Image courtesy of Shutterstock


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