Dictionaries for Word Games
Some Of The Cool Dictionaries
You'll Find On MY Little Bookshelf
There are plenty of dictionaries out there in wherever-they-make-dictionaries-land, but not many of them are particularly useful to the dedicated word gamer and puzzle solver. Over the years I've fine-tuned my collection so that whenever I need to find a word or create a word list for a game or puzzle, I don't have to go too far.
Here are the dictionaries I'm talking about, along with the reason they made it onto my 'elite' little bookshelf...
21st Century Crossword Puzzle Dictionary
I've got a pretty decent collection of crossword dictionaries on my bookshelf, but I've only listed one of them on this page. Why? Because, oddly, it's the only one I've found that does what I think a crossword puzzle dictionary should do.
Kevin McCann's 21st Century Crossword Puzzle Dictionary focuses exclusively on the sorts of crossword answers that actually turn up frequently in published puzzles.
Years ago Kevin created a crossword database using thousands of clues and answers from major American newspapers — it's been quietly chugging away ever since. He used this database to put together a dictionary with entries that look exactly like the ones in your morning paper. Which they should, of course, because that's exactly where he got them ;-)
If you want to know all possible synonyms of a word, you should consult a reputable thesaurus. But if you're interested primarily in words and clues that actually tend to appear in crosswords, this tome is a little-known gem. Read more...
For years, Chambers has had a stronghold on the word game market.
One of the reasons for this is that Chambers Dictionary is jam-packed with all those crazy words you find in crossword puzzles and on Scrabble boards, but never in the real world.
I mean, where else will you find delicious entries like EUOI, a cry of Bacchic frenzy, and YRIVD, an obsolete past participle of rive? Yet, despite its indulgence in such lexical obscurities, the dictionary remains a perfect size for browsing in bed. Read more...
If you are at all serious about your Scrabble - even if you are a lounge room player - I highly recommend you have an 'official' dictionary on your shelf that unambiguously tells you whether any given word is in or out. But be careful with the word 'Official'!
This bulky tome is the official Scrabble dictionary endorsed by the World English Scrabble Players Association (WESPA). You can get a copy of Collins Official Scrabble Words here.
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
has long played an important role in word games and competitions throughout America. As a collegiate
dictionary, it is not as comprehensive (or obscure!) as Webster's Unabridged
, of course. But it is more than rich enough to challenge virtually every English-speaker's vocabulary in the country. For that reason, it is used as the primary word reference in most spelling bees (e.g. the AARP Senior National Spelling Bee
) and is the main word source used for compiling the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary
Whenever I meet someone who finds out how serious I am about Scrabble, the first question I get asked is 'What is the official dictionary for Scrabble?' The answer depends on where you live...
It turns out that there are two
official Scrabble dictionaries. This one, The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary
, is the official word authority in North America
. In all other parts of the world, the authority is Collins Official Scrabble Dictionary
Actually, the story does get a tad more complicated than this. You see, the OSPD, as this dictionary is usually called, is only 'officially' endorsed for Scrabble games played in the School & Family setting. Why?
Because several years ago the OSPD was, somewhat controversially at the time, cleansed of all terms deemed to be 'offensive'. Since offensive terms do not violate the original rules of Scrabble, official tournament and club organizers put all the offensive words back in again! Needless to say, that list is not sold to the general public (but see the tip below).
- TIP! If you have the Electronic Version
of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, you can get access to all the removed words by doing this: at the Ready prompt, type in **otcwl and press Enter. The Ready prompt will be replaced with the Search OTCW List prompt, which stands for Official Tournament & Club Word List. Hey Presto! You're ready to start checking naughty words ;-)
, as it is usually abbreviated, is the official word reference used by Scripps National Spelling Bee
, and a perfect place to hunt for unusual and impossible-to-spell words.
This is also one of very few reference works that still gets printed in a beautiful binding on fine, high-quality paper, making it a pleasure to leaf through. Sexy even...
Know of a Great Dictionary for
Word Game Lovers?
Have you got a dictionary on your bookshelf that you think all word-buffs should know about? Tell them about it right now!
You can either write a review of your dictionary, or comment on one of the dictionaries already reviewed by myself and other Word-Buff visitors.
Dictionary Reviews By Other Word-Buffs
Click the links below to browse the dictionary reviews that have been written already. And feel free to leave your own comments...
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