Questions about some Scrabble words eligibility

Based on the rules as printed in the box. . .

  1. If a word is part of a phrase that can not be used by itself, is it allowable. This would apply mainly to foreign loan phrases (specifically, those found in the main M-W, for example, entries, and not in the “foreign words and phrases supplement”).

Example et cetera “et” is OK, because it is a word by itself, an alternate form of “ate.” “Cetera,” however, has no incidental meaning in English, and proper names are not allowed. I don’t think “cetera” qualifies, but I don’t see how it fails qualification. Other examples in this pattern: “ex nihilo,” “ad infinitum,” “alla breve”. . .

  1. If a word requires an accent mark, is it allowable. Example “né” meaning “original [male] name.”

Here are the rules as posted online:
*Any words listed in a standard English dictionary are permitted with the following exceptions;
-Words spelt with an initial capital letter.
-Words requiring an Apostrophe
-Words requiring a hyphen

Foreign words in a standard English dictionary are considered to have been absorbed into the English language and are allowed.*

The listed examples do not meet any of the proscriptions, and do meet the final qualification. Therefore, “cetera” and “né” would seem to be OK based on those rules.

I’m not asking, and don’t care, whether they’re listed in the OSPD.

The quick and dirty way to see if it’s acceptable is to check the official Scrabble Dictionary.

My understanding is that foreign words aren’t allowed, which would eliminate both cetera and ne or nee with an accent. But I’ll bet nee without the accent is in the scrabble dictionary.

I agree. The official Scrabble dictionary has been through some changes over the years - some racist and objectionable words were removed from the latest edition, IIRC, although they’re still allowed in tournament play.

For a great account of the hardcore-competitive Scrabble subculture, see Stefan Fatsis’s Word Freak. It’s well worth a read for Scrabble fans.

  1. I would argue that “cetera” is not a “word”, but “part of a phrase”, and therefore fails under the rubric of: Foreign words in a standard English dictionary are considered to have been absorbed into the English language and are allowed.

  2. “Né”, on the other hand, regardless of whether or not it has an accent, would seem to be acceptable, as “ne” (no accent) appears to be a word in its own right: it’s an archaic negation. I don’t think diacritical marks are a barrier in Scrabble, since they’re neither available based on the tiles, not are they consistently used in English.

I am with you in philosophy. However, it is a word by any definition. It’s just a word that has meaning only as part of a phrase. I just don’t see how the official rules disqualify it.

I see what you mean. However, the rules according to my version of Scrabble (not online) are: All words labeled as a part of speech … are permitted [snipped list of exceptions]. I have three dictionaries: a Webster’s, an American Heritage, and an OED. None of them list et cetera as a part of speech, merely as a phrase. They all list etcetera as a noun, but that is the whole thing as one word, not the phrase. Cetera by itself is not listed at all, and therefore cannot really be considered a part of speech, even if et cetera were.

ET and NE are both acceptable words in the Scrabble dictionary (both the OSPD and the OWL; not sure about SOWPODS).

Well, QUA is an acceptable word but QUO isn’t. How would you define QUO in English, other than as a part of “status quo”?

It should be noted, by the way, that the official rules of Scrabble don’t require the official Scrabble dictionary. Nor, for that matter, any other particular dictionary. All that the rules require is that the players use a dictionary which is mutually agreeable to all of them. The “official” dictionary is just for tournaments, but for your own kitchen-table game, you’d be perfectly within the rules to use the Urban Dictionary, or the Snigglets series, or the set of all words which return at least 100 hits on Google.

OK. I think that would disqualify them. Thanks.

The rules are silent on the use of dacritical marks, so I infer from that that they’re OK.

Is ‘cetera’ listed seperately in the dictionary you’re thinking of? If it is, it’d probably say something like ‘cf. et cetera.’ That’s enough to tell you that it’s not a word in itself.

Of course, Scrabble rules are not always perfect anyway. No neo? No zen? Pah! (That’s allowed).