What is the 'Official'
"... the Scrabble dictionary isn't really a dictionary at all.
It's a book designed to keep players from spending all of their time
fighting over what's a word." — Stephan Fatsis
When I played Scrabble as a child, there was no such thing as an Official Scrabble dictionary for resolving disputes. Now there is. But what is it?
Although the rules written on the inside of the Scrabble box lid specified how to decide if a word in the dictionary was allowed or not, they did not tell us which dictionary to use.
So naturally, we just went with whatever dictionary happened to be on our bookshelf. Needless to say, this led to some problems...
For one thing, our Compact Oxford was not always clear about inflections and derivatives of words. Dictionaries do not usually state plurals explicitly, for example. So technically one could argue that the word CATS is not in the dictionary!
Also, if we played Scrabble at a friend's place, and they used a different dictionary to us, some of our favorite standbys were now disqualified. Suddenly, we weren't allowed to play EX any more!
It was about 15 years later that I was in a bookshop browsing the Reference Books section, when I stumbled across a book that referred to itself as the 'Official' Scrabble dictionary. Since I still played Scrabble regularly (not to mention fiercely!), and word-disputes were frequent and heated, I was pretty excited about this. So there was an official word judge after all! Obviously, I bought a copy immediately.
Please don't rush out and get a copy of this book like I did, though. I soon discovered that there are lots of dictionaries and word books out there claiming some sort of 'official' status in the world of Scrabble, but most of them will turn out to be the wrong one for you. Like this one was for me!
Here are some reasons why it is easy to accidentally buy the wrong 'Official' Scrabble dictionary...
- Scrabble is owned internationally by two different companies, and each owner prescribes its own official dictionary.
- Like all dictionaries, Scrabble dictionaries have to be updated from time to time, making it extremely easy to buy the right dictionary, but the wrong edition.
- Not only do the officially allowed words change from time to time, but the official dictionary titles change too!
- There are several unscrupulous vendors out there marketing dictionaries and lists that masquerade as 'official'.
One of these days I'll get around to telling you the long and complex history of official Scrabble dictionaries, but right now I'm going to keep it really simple for you, so you don't buy the wrong dictionary like I did (twice!).
Which 'Official' Scrabble Dictionary?
If you play Scrabble in North America, you can find the latest edition of the correct official dictionary here...
Official North American Scrabble Dictionary
If you play Scrabble in any other country (e.g. the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, India, and so on), you can find the latest edition of the correct official dictionary here...
Official International Scrabble Dictionary
You should keep in mind that this last dictionary is also the dictionary used to resolve disputes in all
officially recognized international Scrabble tournaments, and for most tournaments in almost all English-speaking countries.
So if you are a very keen North American Scrabble player, you might find it useful to stock both dictionaries on your shelf, just in case you decide to participate in an international tournament some time.
It will also help you make sense of many of the words that appear on the Scrabble pages of Word Buff ;-)
And speaking of helpful resources...
Word Buff's FREE Downloadable
Mini Scrabble Dictionary
As part of my effort to compile a free library of Scrabble cheats, I've put together a 39 page mini online Scrabble dictionary containing all the short Scrabble words. As I explain in the book's introduction, the short words are by far the most important ones to learn first.
Here's a snippet...
I've carefully highlighted which words are from which dictionaries to help you avoid learning phonies. I've put a downloadable copy in the Members Area. If you'd like to get your hands on it right now...
Just tell me where to send it!
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