Under many of our word game-related articles you can find comments and questions about valid words in Words with Friends or the Scrabble app. Recently, one visitor was wondering about the ’word’ MM that she only found to be an invalid abbreviation. So I will be using this article to answer two questions: Are abbreviations valid in word games like Scrabble or Words with Friends? What are those strange words with only consonants in them?
Abbreviations in word games
I could elaborate on this, but to be honest, the truth is too simple to stretch it: abbreviations are not allowed in word games. If you used them in a family match of Scrabble at home there is no harm done. Officially, they are not allowed in word games like Scrabble, Words with Friends and many more – just like proper nouns and names.
When I started playing Scrabble more professionally, I learned a lot about language. I think, when you play word games knowing a lot about grammar is more important than to have a wide vocabulary. I did not only learn how to extend words, but also about word classes I had already forgotten. One of them are interjections. In a nutshell, those are expressions of emotions. They seem so unfamiliar that they often get confused with abbreviations.
Interjections in word games
Not using a word or the strange look of a word are no reasons for it not being valid in a word game. You will notice this at the latest when playing against advanced players or the computer. Suddenly, words like MM, HM, AW or OY are being played and valid. Especially those words with only consonanst are than often mistaken by abbreviations and people start to get frustrated. I noticed this when recently checking HM and MM in the online version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary (e.g. HM). Since the dictionary is mentioning both words to be abbreviations, but not interjections, I totally understand the huge number of people complaining about it being accepted by Words with Friends. I hope, the comment I left there is helping to clear the air.
If you are still frustrated, don’t be! There is no secret behind the interjections in word games. You can be as clever as the pros and just learn them. The list of 2-letter-words in English is rather short, but already contains some useful interjections. Just keep in mind that the US list is a bit shorter due to the stricter handled use of the TWL word list.
With the time, you will get used to not only the short interjections, but also other short words. This is a huge strategic advantage to find a place to attach your word to, play parallel words, dump high value tiles on bonus squares or clear your rack from either too many vowels or consonants.
But be prepared when you apply this knowledge again to a family game of Scrabble. When I started to play interjections, my opponents where first surprised, but later started to build interjections out of the blue followed by an example on when they used or heard it lately. Its good to have a printed Scrabble dictionary or our Scrabble Helper at hand to check if a word is actually valid.