Can the word WISED be played in Scrabble

by Keith
(New Jersey)

...if only the phrase WISE UP is in the dictionary as a verb? In the dictionary we were using, there is no other verb form for the word WISE.

Hi Keith - Aah, another dictionary dispute. They are rarely easy, so you are going to have to be patient with me...

Firstly, if you absolutely insist on using your own dictionary then, based on what you've told me, the phrase WISED UP is acceptable English, however the individual word WISED would then only be part of a phrase, rather than a self-contained word.

The question then becomes: 'Can words be played in Scrabble if they are only parts of phrases?'. Believe it or not this very question has recently been the cause of heated debate in the upper echelons of Scrabble.

You see, up until now, in official (trans. 'geeky') Scrabble circles, parts of phrases have not been allowed (unless they also appear by themselves in the source dictionary). However, authorities are currently looking at revising this rule. If they do revise it, it would mean that the phrase GUNG HO might give us the word GUNG, and all sorts of debatable obscurities. Of course, they may say yes or no on a case-by-case basis, depending on a range of factors.

Anyway, with the current official practice, a word which only appears as part of a phrase is not allowed. So I would argue (although the decision would not 'feel' right), that if you stick strictly to the dictionary you agreed on at the start of your game (and what's the point of specifying one in the first place if you don't stick to it?), the word WISED should be disallowed.


The current Official Scrabble Dictionary certainly does allow WISE to be treated as a verb, and therefore WISED is ok in official Scrabble games. That's because at least one of the source dictionaries used to build the Scrabble dictionary explicitly lists WISE as a verb, even though yours doesn't.

See why dictionary disputes are so long and tricky? That's why I always recommend to serious players to get themselves an Official Scrabble Dictionary (the right one for their region - I explain that in the previous link). A Scrabble dictionary lists every single inflection and derivation of a word for you, so there is no room for arguments.

Having said that - some people find dictionary arguments, like your one, to be the most valuable and entertaining part of a game. If that's you, then consider this post, and others like it, as a helpful guide to using your own venerable tome ;-)

Ciao for now.

P.S. I hope this long-winded answer helps you out. But if not, or if you're reading this and have a strong opinion about what should and shouldn't allowed in Scrabble, just click the Comments link below...

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Thanks Derek for the clarification
by: Keith from New Joisey

I'm the poster of this one. Now I have some ammunition to use against my sister and brother-in-law, who were ganging up against me on this. Bro played the word "wised", and with the "d" got a lot of extra points out of it. I used your argument to no avail. (He was killing me anyway!)

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