CHRISTMAS is around the corner and the season of good will is often the season of board games, too when we dust down the boxes and get competitive over who can get the best scores on Scrabble. However, if you are a purist who is not a fan of modern speak venturing on to the board, look away now.

What's happening?

A new list of more than 500 “allowed” words have been added to the Official Scrabble Players' Dictionary, which - in its seventh edition - is the "bible" for ardent Scrabble aficionados. Last updated in 2018, a lot of water has gone under the bridge and so, the oodles of new words are inspired by usage in these four years gone.


Wide-ranging - from convo - the abbreviation for "conversation" - to "vax", for the Covid-inspired "vaccination". Others include "hygge", the Danish word for "cosiness" and "bae "as in the acronym for "before anyone else". "Zedonk" - the offspring of a zebra and a donkey - is in the mix, as is "sitch", which means "situation".

Go on…

"Vh2ibed" to give out a positive vibration, "skeezy" which often describes an "unpleasant" character and "stan" - an obsessive fan. "Fauxhawk", a haircut similar to a Mohawk, is potentially the highest scoring addition, due to its high point-scoring letters x and k.

How often do you have a convo about a zedonk?

Not often admittedly, but they are legitimate scoring words, now, such as "adorbs" - an abbreviated "adorable" - and "guac" - an abbreviated guacamole", as well as "inspo" for yes, you guessed it - "inspiration". Even "yeehaw" is in there, as in an expression you may have heard in an old cowboy film. "Horchata" is in there, for the Spanish milky drink of that name, while "Iftar", the evening meal with which Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset, is now included; as is "marg", as in "margarine" and "zoodle", as in "spiralised zucchini".

For purists … ?

It's a lot to absorb. “Yeehaw is like so many of the older, informal terms. They were more spoken than written, and the gold standard for dictionary editing was always written evidence. So a term like yeehaw, which we all know from our childhood and in movies and TV, was something you heard. You didn"t read it that often," Merriam-Webster"s editor at large, Peter Sokolowski, said. “All of these are words that have already been vetted and defined and added to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, and now we've determined they're playable in Scrabble.”

Words are sometimes removed?

Over the years, yes, some words have been taken out of play, with the removal of words such as "lubra" - an "outdated term for an Aboriginal woman" and "bufty" - apparently Scots slang for "gay" earlier this year, sparking "bitter spats" with competitive players. Some said they do not "approve of any banned words" but that the words "cannot be un-invented".

It's a historic game?

Scrabble's roots go back to the Great Depression when out-of-work New York architect Alfred Mosher Butts invented the game that would go on to become Scrabble. Called Lexiko at first in 1933, it was refined to become Criss Cross Words and then, in 1938, Scrabble was officially trademarked. Butts' aim was to offer respite during the Depression.