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A competitor takes part in the World Scrabble Championships in London.
Reuters/Toby Melville
A new play on words.
REAL TALK

“Ew,” “yowza,” and other new Scrabble words to up your game

By Aisha Hassan

Here’s a new way to score high during your turn in Scrabble: “Yowza!”

That’s one of 300 entries added to Merriam-Webster’s Official Scrabble Players Dictionary on Monday (Sept. 24), and playing it will earn you a minimum of 20 points. Two-letter words used in daily text-speak, such as “OK,” are now OK to use, too.

The addition of new words marks the sixth edition of Merriam-Webster’s Scrabble dictionary, the first of which was published in 1976. (Previously, game rules stated that any desk dictionary could be consulted.) The range of new words not only presents fresh opportunities for high scores, but also reflects a more globalized and social media-connected world.

Ew,” for instance, is a newly added word and an example of what lexicographer Peter Sokolowski, editor at large at Merriam-Webster, calls “transcribed speech.” This refers to expressions, such as “mm-hmm” (not playable) that are colloquial and used frequently online. Sokolowski told the Associated Press: “Traditionally, they were not in the dictionary but because so much of our communication is texting and social media that is written language, we are finding more transcribed speech and getting a new group of spellings for the dictionary.”

Foreign words such as “bibimbap,” and “sriracha” are also now officially Scrabble-recognized, which is an indication that these terms are used frequently enough by English-language speakers to be deemed playable—and they’re sweet scorers, too.

To up your Scrabble game, here is a selection of the dictionary’s latest additions and their base totals (the minimum score based on tile values, without boosters such as a “double word” square). Some of these are power moves, but others are just terms we’re finally glad to throw down.

  • Ok: 6 points
  • Ew: 5 points
  • Zen: 12 points
  • Bizjet: 24 points (Fun fact: If used during opening play and as a plural, “bizjets,” this word could be worth 120 points due to the 50-point bonus for using all seven tiles, and the double word bonus typically used at the start.)