Te, frenemie, bromance, selfie – those are just a few among the plethora of new words added to the latest edition of Merriam Webster’s Official Scrabble Dictionary. Added to that, among the 5,000 new words, were those of the digital age, such as hashtag, vlog, texter and geocache. Geocahe was apparently big-brothered in by voters this spring. Just as an update, ok is still not ok.
If you are an avid scrabble player, the digital era props is not the only gift that this new edition, the first one in a decade, brings. There is the bonus of a whole new class of two letter words, like gi and te. Formerly, g could only be played in a two letter word with o, but apparently it’s brushed up its social skills and made a new friend in i. Gi is the outfit worn during the practice of judo. Te is another spelling of the seventh note of the scale, also spelled ti, proceeded by la and followed by do. Interestingly, the two-letter combination of ph was kosher until 2007 but is no longer acceptable. Sh still is.
This new dictionary does not just grab from 21st century language but also adopts 4,000 year old words. Added was qajaq, a boat common to subarctic indigenous cultures of North America, also known as a kayak. The double q version appears in languages from the Aleut of the northern Pacific to the Inuit (also known as Eskimo) of the northern Atlantic. None of Inuit, Eskimo, Yupik or Aleut are acceptable in Scrabble, because they all require capitalization. Some people are really excited about qajaq because like the more familiar kayak it is a palindrome (Able was I ere I saw Elba). Others readily point out that both versions demand you use a blank tile, as there is only one K or Z tile included in the game. There is also only one j in the tile bag as well so a player has only a 3 percent chance of hitting the right combination of q, blank and j.
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, criteria for eligibility is: a word must be found in a standard dictionary, can not require capitalization, nor hyphens or apostrophes and can’t be an abbreviation. Which means that shortly mansplain may be coming to a Scrabble board near you. Mansplain is one of a rash of words recently added by the Oxford Dictionary along with sideboob, and my fave, it’s so adorbs (also added), amazeballs. But back to mansplain, a verb meaning when someone, typically a man, explains something to another person, typically a woman, in a manner considered condescending or patronizing. Think of it this way, if he repeats something, using several different ways to express the idea, so that you can process it just in case one of the other ways didn’t get through, you have been a victim of mansplaining. If he calls you babe, baby, honey sugar or any non-professional term ending in –ista, -cita or -ette while doing so, it is like conjugating the word in its present indicative form and landing on two triple word scores.