Why isn't ERODERS allowed in Scrabble?

by Tom

I used this in a sentence: Wind, water, and time are all natural ERODERS of soil on the great plains. Yet, in Scrabble, ERODERS is not an allowable word? Did I use the word wrong?

Hi there Tom,

In deciding whether or not a word is allowed in Scrabble, we start out with one or more English dictionaries, and then filter out words that fail to satisfy certain Scrabble criteria (e.g. proper nouns, hyphenated forms, and so on).

So if a plausible word, like ERODERS*, is not allowed in Scrabble, it is either because it isn't in any of the source dictionaries, or it fails to meet the Scrabble criteria. In this case, the problem is that ERODERS* does not appear in any of the source dictionaries used to compile the Official Scrabble Dictionary.

The reason for this has nothing to do with Scrabble per se, but rather reflects the nature of dictionary-makers, which is usually to select words based, not on plausibility so much, but rather on frequency of usage in literature and other media.

In other words, the dictionary-makers, rather than the Scrabble authorities, don't include your word, simply because it doesn't appear often enough in documents they have sampled.

This doesn't make it an invalid word out there in the real world, of course. I mean, I can legitimately describe a tasty treat as being very 'donutesque', without the permission of a dictionary. It just means I can't use it in Scrabble ;-)

I hope I've answered your question Tom. But feel free to add comments below if I haven't.

P.S. In Scrabble it is traditional to put an asterisk after a word that isn't allowed (a phoney) - that's why I keep doing this here.

Scrabble players often keep a long list of 'Plausible Phonies', like your ERODERS*, which they study frequently to help them avoid playing invalid words.

Also, quite often these plausible phonies have valid anagrams, which means the invalid word can actually help you play a correct one. In this case, for example, instead of playing your word, you could have played the more obscure word REREDOS, which refers to an ornamental screen found in certain churches!

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