Games of Monopoly are always going to get ugly. The rules are written in a way that makes the game a) a hauntingly accurate critique of capitalism and b) no fun at all to play: initial success is determined entirely by random chance and then the wealthy minority use their wealth to crush the wealthless, powerless majority. Rage isn’t an occasional byproduct of Monopoly, it’s built into the game. One lucky bastard will absolutely destroy everyone else through no skill of their own, every time.
Scrabble rage is a different beast. When someone bulldozes you in Monopoly, it’s never hard to see it coming: one errant roll of the dice was always destined to send your tiny battleship or old-timey sportscar hurtling into the mess of houses and hotels that the richest player stacked up on Mayfair. It was chance, it was cruel fate. It was your unlucky destiny. When someone bulldozes you in Scrabble, it was done silently, meticulously, and with great malice aforethought, like a swift military coup. The offending player (read: ‘the bastard’) was making pleasant small talk with you – smiling to your face – all the while knowing they were about to put down ‘CAZIQUE’ on a Triple Word Score and crush you so thoroughly that you have to call in sick to work the next day. These blows are dealt with the cool, somewhat smug detachment of an assassin executing their target mere seconds before they could alert the guards.
It is a brutal game, which is why the Scrabble dictionary is so important. No one wants to just accept the word of the motherfucker who is about to get 38 points for playing ‘NIDGETS’ that ‘NIDGETS’ is, in fact, a real word (it is). A regular dictionary will do in a lot of cases, but will often miss large swathes of words in the pursuit of producing a book that is not the size of a small car and will sometimes include words that contravene the Scrabble rules. The real Scrabble fans (or ’tileheads’) will settle for no less than either the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary or the Official Tournament and Club Word List, both designed to be exhaustive, rules-complete lists of playable words for tournament use.
If you were to flip through either of these for fun, like a complete psycho would, you would find that a lot of these words are super whack – none more so than the two-letter words. Nothing feels better than slamming down a ‘Q’ on a triple word score to make ‘QI’, ditching a letter that was only going to bring you down if the other player ran out of tiles first. Conversely, nothing feels worse than having someone pull that exact same move on you.
Any person with a normal brain will believe there to be about a dozen two-letter words, never getting very far out of ‘an’ or ‘is’ territory, but people with Terminal Scrabble Brain know that there are over 100, and will gladly pull up the dictionary to self-satisfactorily demonstrate that ‘AA’ is very much a word, apparently.
Frankly, we felt it was time for someone to put these words (taken from the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, 5th Edition) on blast, so here they are, ranked in increasing order of just how bullshit they are:
OX, UP, NO, GO, HE, MY, ME
Not at all bullshit. As far from bullshit as you can possibly get. Perfectly wonderful examples of the English language, and the short words it contains.
IF, IN, IS, IT, AN, AS, AT, ON, OF, US, WE, DO, AM, BE, BY, SO, OR, TO
Imperceptibly more bullshit than the first lot but, to the regular human eye, completely free from bullshit. This is the level of bullshit at which most words in Scrabble operate.
Still not that bullshit.
Full disclosure: my partner does Jiu Jitsu and will likely put me in a headlock if I say this one is bullshit.
A unit of currency in Vietnam that is no longer used. Sure. Fair enough. Go on then.
Yeah alright, I know it’s a real word, but still, you’re being a dick right now.
‘To cross out’? Cross out my ass, and also this word, from that list.
As in short for agriculture and education. If we’re just going to let any shortened version of any word on the board, what are we even doing here.
MU, NU, PI, XI
The letters of the Greek alphabet really seem like they’re pushing their luck here, especially ‘XI’, which should count itself lucky that it didn’t end up further down on the list.
Letters of the Hebrew alphabet, similar grounds as previous.
The definition I’m looking at has this one down as ‘a prostitute’, which I’m not entirely sure about.
A traditional Chinese unit of measurement. I’ll take it but you better watch yourself.
AW, AY, OW, HA, HI, HM, EH, SH, TA, UH, UM, YO, AH, NA, MM, OH, OI, OY, ER
It did not take long to get deep into bullshit country. Look at this list, those aren’t words, those are just sounds people make. What if I decide that the sound I make when I yawn is ‘QX’? Does that make ‘QX’ a word?? I’m onto you, Mr Scrabble, you slippery fuck.
Lo and behold, this word is bullshit, because I just used it for the first time in a sentence since Shakespeare died.
RE, MI, FA, LA, TI
These miserable bastards represent the five tones of the diatonic musical scale that aren’t also common words and, frankly, I hate them. Contemptible shits.
TE, UT, SI
Variant spellings from the previous list, which are somehow even more bullshit.
AR, EF, EL, EM, EN, ES
Supposedly the phonetic renderings of the letters ‘r’, ‘f’, ‘l’, ‘m’, ‘n’, and ‘s’ but, in reality, complete bullshit. No thanks.
These are just three-letter words spelled incorrectly, I will not budge on this.
BA, KI, QI, OM, KA, OD
I don’t want to get all Richard Dawkins here, but this is spiritual nonsense. No thank you.
The masculine version of ‘née’, which doesn’t often find itself in use in the English language but I will begrudgingly allow for its existence. Still bullshit, though.
DA, MA, PA
If you ever catch me referring to my parents as either ‘Da’ or ‘Ma’, you have my full permission to kick my ass.
You know that perfectly ordinary way that you would refer to a single abdominal muscle? Just kidding, no one that isn’t wanted by the FBI for a string of murders throughout the 70s and 80s has ever done this. Bullshit.
‘An early type of violin used in the Shetland Islands‘, ‘A style of abstract art’. Hmm nice job making up some things so bafflingly precise that there’s no way for me to guess if they’re true or not. Ya got me.
A variant on a spelling of a Tibetan cattle-yak hybrid, and a three-toed sloth. Ridiculous. Nonsense. I shan’t abide them.
A very tersely-named plant that has somehow made its way into the Scrabble dictionary, possibly through bribery or nepotism.
A ‘pal or buddy’, also defined as ‘not a word, remove this from your list immediately’.
JO, OE, AE
Scots English is completely fake. Sorry if this offends.
One. French is also fake. Not sorry if this offends.
‘Of or from, as used in names’. Whichever language this is, it’s also fake. I’m back to being sorry about if this offends.
Both meaning ‘you’. Both superseded by the invention of the word ‘you’.
Past tense of ‘eat’, as in ‘That there critter et up all them varmints’. I will not tolerate crude cowboy talk in my nice respectable games of Scrabble.
As in ‘moment’, as in ‘wait a mo’. Absolutely not. Absolutely fucking not. Fuck you. Get out of here.
The dictionary wants me to believe that this means ‘a bone’ but a lot of people want me to believe a lot of things, and I simply cannot do all of them. I don’t have the time.
A chamberpot, which is where this nonsense word belongs.
No. Quite simply: no. ‘Rough, cindery lava’? Bullshit. Historic-level bullshit.
This, the most bullshit of all of them, was surely added to the list by one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and accepted by a committee who were too starstruck to say no. It does not get more bullshit than this. This is a level of bullshit that is visible to the naked eye from space.