Scrabble players delve into thousands of new words

SEATTLE – Are the new words friend or "frenemy?" That is the question.

Faithful SCRABBLE players, including those in Seattle, have slowly started delving into more than 5,000 new words since a new official dictionary came out two months ago.

"I wonder how long any of those are going to last," said Daniel Goodwin, who's been playing with the Seattle Scrabble Club since 1987.

It was back in August when Merriam-Webster, under license from Hasbro, Inc., released the Fifth Edition of The Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary. It was the first major update in nearly a decade.

More than 5,000 new words became officially playable when the company added them to the list. They include GEOCACHE, BEATBOX, CHILLAX, FRENEMY, HASHTAG, JOYPAD, MIXTAPE, MOJITO, PONZU, SELFIE, SOJU, SUDOKU, TEXTER, VODCAST, VLOG, and YUZU.

"In the SCRABBLE community those words don't really change the game much," said Rebecca Slivka, Seattle's club director. "Playing 2 letter words makes a much bigger difference."

Gi, for instance, is a Karate uniform.

Another obstacle is that those new words aren't in the players' electronic database yet, which they check for challenges.

"At first I had a bad attitude about the new dictionary," player Midori Howard said. "I thought '5,000 words?' Come on now."

She's warmed up to the idea, however.

"Once I start learning them and looking them up, it's kind of fun," she said. "Frenemy? That's a good one."

A release from Merriam-Webster in August explained why the changes were happening.

"Language is constantly evolving and new words are added to Merriam-Webster dictionaries on an ongoing basis," said Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large for Merriam-Webster, in a release by the company. "Now thousands of those words can officially be played on the SCRABBLE game board, as long as they meet the SCRABBLE game's criteria for length and styling."

Slivka said Seattle's Scrabble Club has been in existence for nearly 30 years now. She said players get better by studying words specifically for the game.

"There's words that, strictly from a probability standpoint, are more likely to come up than others based on the distribution of tiles in the bag," she said. "People study based on those probability words."

The club meets each Tuesday night at 6:00 at the University Friends Meetinghouse Social Hall, 4001 9th Avenue NE, Seattle, WA 98105.


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