Sunday, October 17, 2010

Scrabble: The Two Letter Words

With the introduction of the words QI and ZA, casual players may want to have a handy rule around to let them play with the Scrabble zealots.

You could not allow or not score two-letter words. Unfortunately, several good two letter words should score (such as AX), and near the end of the game you may not have much else to play.

An alternative is to limit the legal two letter words to those that an actual human might use in day-to-day life.

Here are the currently legal two letter Scrabble words. Words with an asterisk (*) are candidates for exclusion from casual games. Words with a question mark (?) are borderline cases.

AA* a type of lava, what you say when going over a cliff
AB* abdominal muscle
AD advertisement
AE* one
AG* agricultural
AH sound of surprise
AI* a sloth
AL* an Indian tree
AM opposite of AIN'T
AN singular
AR? the letter R
AS comparative
AT locational
AW cute overload
AX chops wood
AY* shortened form of AYE, not what Fonzie says
BA* the soul in Egyptian mythology, not a baby ball
BE or not
BI bisexual
BO* shortened form of beau
BY positional
DE* from (like in foreign names)
DO or do not, there is no try
ED shortened form of EDUCATION
EF? the letter F
EH Canadian punctuation mark
EL* elevated subway, where a Cockney tells you to go when he's drunk
EM? the letter M, or a printer's mark
EN? the letter N, or a printer's mark
ER hesitation
ES* a shortened form of the letter S
ET* past tense of eat
EX where my money goes
FA note in the musical scale
FE* a Hebrew letter
GO move or start, and a nice game
HA sound of amusement
HE him
HI hello
HM* sound of consideration, shortened form of HMM
HO? sound of surprise, not a loose woman
ID part of the mind
IF conjectural
IN locational
IS existential
IT object identification
JO* a sweetheart
KA* the spirit in Egyptian mythology
KI* the Chinese spiritual force
LA note in the musical scale, or word substitution in a song
LI* a Chinese measurement
LO and behold
MA your mom
ME not you
MI note in the musical scale
MM* sound of satisfaction, shortened form of MMM
MO* shortened form of moment
MU? Greek letter
MY possessive
NA* not, shortened form of NAH
NE* born with the name, shortened form of NEE
NO negative
NU Greek letter, also sound of impatience
OD* hypothetical force of natural power
OE* whirlwind of the Faerce islands
OF originating from
OH sound of surprise
OI* alternate for OY
OM* sound of a mantra
ON positional
OP* style of art, or shortened form of OPERATION
OR logical alternative
OS* various obscure definitions, such as a bone
OW sound of pain
OX moo
OY sound of despair
PA your dad
PE* Hebrew letter
PI Greek letter, 3.14
QI* alternate for KI
RE note in the musical scale
SH* shut up, shortened form of SHH
SI* alternate for TI
SO what
TA* sound of gratitude (this is a ? for some cultures)
TI note in the musical scale
TO directional
UH sound of hesitation
UM sound of thinking
UN* one
UP locational
US collective
UT* a note in an archaic French musical scale
WE collective
WO* shortened form of WOE
XI* Greek letter, alternate form of CHI
XU* Vietnamese coin
YA* you, or yes
YE you, archaic
YO it's my art center
ZA* shortened form of pizza

Note: If you allow QI and ZA, you should reduce the values of the letters Q and Z to 8.


Matthew Frederick said...

Good list, and good thinking. I would argue for ab, though, since its plural is used very commonly.

Mikko said...

Isn't 'ab' a common word? As in "get bigger abs"?

Yehuda Berlinger said...

I thought about AB. ABS is used frequently nowadays, but AB really isn't. You'd be hard pressed to find it in any dictionary.


Alex Despres said...

Scrabble's obnoxious inclusion of 2-letter words is to encourage more parallel structures in tournament play in which to words lay side-by-side. This is, to me, a cheapening of the game. Thanks for being a voice for word game reason, Y.

Dragonbear82 said...

I don't understand why a casual game should have a different dictionary than a "regular" game. I understand if a group wants to dissallow a word that they don't think is more than slang, like Za. Is this just a sort of handicap for the "zealot?" Like when skilled chess players spot pieces to new players to even the field? If so, I think it makes more sense to spot the "casual" player points in the game. By disallowing some or all 2 letter words you deny the casual player the opportunity to learn them for future play. While they probably wouldn't want to study them, I don't see why they would object to picking them up during the course of playing.

Yuri said...

Limiting the word choices makes sense for friendly games - I can forsee some arguments at the holidays over whether a two-letter word is valid or not. For competition play it's interesting to see what people can pull out of the bag at the last minute using two letter words. The words listed above seem to be from the TWL dictionary - SOWPODS would also include words like ZO, which can come in very handy! :)

Out of interest, I wrote a Scrabble word finder (using the TWL dictionary), it's handy as a word checking tool, and... yes, I'll admit it... cheating.

Ernie Boy said...

Are these the scrabble words with 2 letters? Thanks to this great list then