A scrabble question

I have recently joined the International scrabble club. During a game I played the word “underuse”. Evidently the default dictionary we use (TWL98) does not have it listed as a playable word.

This seemed a perfectly viable word to me and I asked one of the mods about it. I was told that “underused” (as in past tense) would have been fine, but “underuse” (present tense) was not. I am not a sore loser but is there some sort of grammar rule that I have missed here? Seemed like a perfectly good usage of the word to me.

Where is my thinking flawed? (BTW it was played on a triple word square and woulda been an 80 point score! I REALLY wanted those points)

Grammar is irrelevant; by the rules, the word must appear in the designated dictionary. The compilers of dictionaries list words that are in use, and “underuse” just doesn’t show up anywhere – “underused,” the past participle, appears as an adjective, but few, if any, talk about underusing something.

Dictionaries base their entries on words in common use. So, if we all pitch in and underuse it less…

Nametag has it right. In official scrabble play, the acceptability of words has nothing to do with grammar rules or usage rules or any other thing. If the word made it into the official dictionary, you can play it. If it didn’t, you can’t. One would hope that the rules we’re speaking of would guide whether words were included or not, but who knows what goes into those decisions?

Concepts such as “viable” and “grammar rules” are irrelevant in competition Scrabble clubs.The one and only thing that counts is if the word is listed in the official dictionary or word list.

I once played “statins”—a perfectly good medical term ( a type of heart medicine, taken by millions of people, --a word that appears frequently in newpapers.) But it ain’t in the OSPD dictionary, so it don’t count.

Now, if you really want to have fun with scrabble, try playing with a rule that you have to be able to define each word you play. I think it’s a great idea, but Scrabble “professionals” totally freak out when I suggest it.

It’s a fun game, but remember–it’s only a game.

It’s also worth noting that, according to the official rules, any dictionary at all can be used for Scrabble, provided that all of the players agree to it beforehand. The Official Scrabble Players’ Dictionary is just the dictionary that tournament Scrabble players have agreed to use for tournaments. But in your kitchen-table games, it’s equally valid, under the official rules, if everyone agrees to use a slang dictionary, or the Jargon File, or the set of all words for which Google returns more than one hit.

I think the slang dictionary would suffer from underuse, where scrabble is concerned.

btw, is there anything in the official rules about whether (and to what degree) a player can check in the dictionary before making his play? I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually played scrabble myself.

It would seem to make some sense that a player can check in the dictionary if he (or she) has thought of a word that would score a lot of points, but is somewhat obscure and possibly uncertain. On the other hand, unrestrained access to the dictionary before making plays could lead to just leafing through it, looking for inspiration to strike… which is possibly not what the game is really about. Is the reference (whatever it might be) only accessed after a play, for the sake of a challenge??

And… are there any game consequences to either a successful challenge or a failed challenge?? (ie someone doubts that ‘Ruritanian’ is a real world, but it is found in the dict.)

I belive in the official rules one cannot “pre-check” any word.
Aftre you lay down your tiles your word(s) can be cahallenged.
If what you put down was legit, the challenger loses a turn.
If what you put down was bad, you get 0 points (and your tiles back I think)

I once played “wan” and other people complained it was an acronym (wide area network) I stupidly reminded thwm it meant “pale and ashy” (so they didn’t challenge). I should have said “challenge it then”


Yeah I know all about the rules about not being in the dictionary and such. My reaction was heck here is a word that I KNOW I have heard, and even used before. Have I been using a bogus word all these years?

Thanks for all the clarification!

I’m going to challenge “belive”, “aftre”, “cahallenged”, and “thwm”. :cool:

He cannot.

Yes. With a successful challenge, the player who made the illegal word takes his tiles back and scores nothing for the turn, play goes on to the next player. With an unsuccessful challenge, the challenger loses his next turn.

This wont make you feel any better but OVERUSE is in the TWL98

Belive: Adv–in due time

As others have mentioned, the dictionary is God when it comes to competitive Scrabble. There’s no debate over what should or shouldn’t be a word–it is or it isn’t. Unfortunately, some common words escape inclusion in the dictionary. Especially frequent among the omissions are words that employ prefixes and suffixes, like OVER-, UNDER-, RE-, UN-, -LIKE, LESS, -ABLE. The problem can probably be traced to the fact that most dictionaries figure that their readers can figure out what UNDERxxx or zzzLESS mean if they know the meanings of xxx and zzz, so why is a separate entry needed?

The fact that a certain dictionary, or even all dictionaries, exclude a word doesn’t mean that it’s not a word. Even “unabridged” dictionaries don’t include every word in the English language. So don’t feel like you’ve been an ungrammatical idiot using a nonword all these years. As a Scrabble playing friend of mine says whenever he plays a phony, “I know so many words, I know some that aren’t even in the dictionary!”

Oh, and UNDERUSE is good if you use the combined British and American dictionary, SOWPODS, rather than just the TWL.

P.S.–I’m Opus on isc.