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Scrabble word list

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Every word game needs a clear set of rules to avoid conflicts when playing the game. Concerning this matter one special aspect has to be clarified in word games: which words are allowed to use? English speaking Scrabble countries have a long history in word list extensions, adaptions, reductions or integrations. Today there are two main Scrabble word lists regulating games and tournaments: SOWPODS and TWL.

Official Tournament and Club Word List: TWL06

This Scrabble word list is used in the United States, Canada, Thailand and Israel. It combines the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (OSPD) with modifications to make it more suitable for tournament play with the National Scrabble Association Dictionary Committee’s Official Long Word List, which includes all acceptable 10 to 15 letter words not already included in the TWL. The Scrabble word list was compiled using a dictionary called Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition.

The latest Scrabble list from 2006 (TWL06 and the Long Word List) contains about 180,000 words comprising:

Number of letters

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

Number of words

101

1,015

4,030

8,938

15,788

24,029

29,766

Number of letters

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

Number of words

29,150

22,326

16,165

11,417

7,750

5,059

3,157

 

SOWPODS

SOWPODS is a Scrabble word list used in all English speaking countries excluding the United States, Canada, Israel and Thailand. It is a combination of British words from the Collings English Dictionary and American words from the Official Tournament and Club Word List (TWL06). So the British known as Official Scrabble Words (OSW) and the American Scrabble Players Dictionary (OSPD) came together. When both Scrabble lists were put together they decided to use the anagram SOWPODS instead of OSWOSPD or OSPDOSW.

The current Scrabble list contains about 270,000 words comprising:

Number of letters

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

Number of words

124

1,292

5,454

12,478

22,157

32,909

40,161

Number of letters

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

Number of words

40,727

35,529

27,893

20,297

13,857

9,116

5,757

Why two Scrabble word lists?

There had been lack of understanding when SOWPDODS countries merged British and American word lists and the other way around was not possible. TWL countries leave out not less than 90,000 English words, but the opinion is deeply divided on this issue whether a combination of both lists is reasonable. Words in SOWPODS that can not be found in TWL are for example punchbag, acer or evolutional. However, when using our Scrabble helper or our Word Finder you can choose whether you want to use the TWL Scrabble word list or the SOWPODS Scrabble word list.

Which Scrabble word list do you prefer?

We are curious to know what you think of both Scrabble word lists. Is it reasonable to use TWL and SOWPODS separately or build one global official Scrabble word list for English Scrabble games? Leave a comment telling us your opinion and use the poll to showing which one you use in Scrabble games at home, in Scrabble online games or Scrabble tournaments.

I use the following word list for Scrabble games:

word-list-preferences-scrabble

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15 Responses

  1. I absolutely prefer the SOWPADS! I find the TWL stingy, ungenerous even, & much less creative or fun. It seems that one X-word game that I used to play & is fairly popular, Hanging W/ Friends, uses/ -ed TWL. I came to find another online X-word game that I enjoy so much more; Wordfeud! You actually can choose which one to use as well as whether you opt for a Standard Board or Random Board.
    I find that leaving out 90,000 or so words decreases plasticity, increases rigidity, which all in all seems rather silly when Chance dictates letter selection. I suppose some may feel more comfortable w/ increased restrictions but to this avid & life-long player it’s just not as much FUN! ( now, that’s a great 3 letter word)

  2. Addendum (ahem) & correction:
    Sorry, its not Hanging w/ Friends, but Words w/ Friends.
    Respectfully, CynMo

    • Hi CynMo, thanks for your ideas on that topic. I would also prefer a longer word list, when it still follows the Scrabble rules. Anyway, there might be reasons to use TWL and I hope someone who knows comes along this article. I would really appreciate his comment.
      Thomas

  3. Thanks for your response. I would very much like to hear from a TWL proponent as well. There may be an entirely unthought of reason ( … by me I mean) for actually choosing the TWL in lieu of the SOWPADS dictionary. Hopefully, more people will respond. Will you make ongoing ‘votes’ known?

    • Hi CynMo. We are planing to add some more articles about word lists and maybe this can raise the awareness of others and lead back to this poll.

  4. My son-in-law has memorized both the 2-letter and 3-letter lists – SOWPODS, definitely. The more words, the merrier, for him!

  5. The two list is mostly real words in use today the sowpods is a ridiculous compilation of obscure words which are not used by English speaking people.

  6. In my family, the tradition is to use Webster’s International Dictionary as the arbiter, not the basic and limited Collegiate. The second International was considered superior to the Third. Yiddish words were allowed. I guess Frisian would also have been, if we’d known it, as it is part of the English family. Nevertheless, I constantly find legitimate, used in America words, that are not accepted by the TWL. It is parochial. It is harder to play with fewer words, to be sure, but I think the TWL is hypocritical and should be banned. In fact, the use of any one dictionary should not be allowed, as it is a commercial endorsement. All major dictionaries should then be combined into one word list. But my favorite Scrabble game is when I play with my sister, and we are free to make up new words, so long as our definition is acceptable to the other player. “Denters” is our most memorable invention, though it is an entirely logical word. Its derivation: if tennis shoes can have bumpers, then cars can have denters as well as bumpers, anything that produces dents is a denter.

    • Hi Varaba, thank you for your great contribution. For everyone with an extended vocabulary using the TWL word list really isn’t working.
      I also remember a great game of Scrabble with made-up words and totally meaningful definitions. I can only recommend it, but online and digital games probably wouldn’t support that.
      Thomas

  7. I play Scrabble using the ‘official’ Scrabble dictionary for verification only. Unfortunately, the number of words which have entered common English usage since version 4 was published in 2005 is huge and, of course, none of them are in that book. Even the 2-letter word list has grown.
    Are you ever going to come up with a new version and is there a printed version of the SOWPODS?
    I think I’m going to suggest we use the SOWPODS from now on, now that I know about it.

    • Hi Siobhan, we are constantly trying to update our Scrabble Helper word lists to enable you and others to check for existing and learn new words. I personally own a copy of Collins Official Scrabble Words which is, as far as I know, the most recent printed version of a Scrabble word list.
      Thomas

  8. I use SOWPODS as it is widely used in common wealth countries. It is richer and more flexible..It makes game more interesting….I think non SOWPODS players should also join in the fun………

  9. Sir : To play scrabble is for FUN AND LEARN. Hence only the OXFORD and/ or WEBSTER should be allowed.

  10. Add a US citizen, when playing online word games (often against the computer), I prefer TWL.

    I find that SOWPODS uses both archaic words and words that are particular only to British Commonwealth nations. When playing online, it is easy when stuck to drag and drop letters to see if they make words. Doing this I have often made obscure words that have improved my scores. However, many of these words originate in Commonwealth countries and are not used in American English. I find that many of these words are from Scotland or India.

    The differences between American and Commonwealth spelling is an advantage when remembering the alternate word spellings. However, again as a US citizen, the Commonwealth spellings can become annoying. For instance, the US omission of the letter “U” in common words such as COLOUR/COLOR or FLAVOUR/FLAVOR.

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