Short words


Why are abbreviations included in official Scrabble dictionaries if the rules say no abbreviations?



I play a lot of Scrabble and often get asked this question after playing valid words such as “ag” (short for “agriculture”) and “lat” (short for “lateral muscles”).

First, note that the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (OSPD) contains ALL of the words from 14 different dictionaries, except for proper nouns (like “Japan”) and words with punctuation (like “can’t” or “etc.” or “T.V.”).

But occasionally, us English speakers decide that certain abbreviations should become “real” words, and they show up in dictionaries as such. For example, nowadays no one would argue that “gym” isn’t a legit word, even though it was once an abbreviation for “gymnasium.” Another common example is “ad,” formerly an abbreviation for “advertisement.”

Some fun former-abbreviations that are now legit Scrabble words include “bi” (short for “bisexual”), and “fem,” short for “feminine,” and defined in the Scrabble dictionary as “a passive homosexual.”

Rock on,

1/14/2007 UPDATE: As pointed out by a commenter, “japan” and variations (non-capitalized) are actually valid Scrabble words, with the following definitions:

to coat with a glossy, black lacquer

one that japans


to make Japanese

3 Responses to “Short words”

  1. 1 mark January 13, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    actually, ‘japan’ is a scrabble word. Not for the country, but as a verb meaning to varnish wood or something.

  2. 2 Anonymous January 18, 2008 at 11:00 am

    lat is short for latissimus dorsi not lateral muscle.

  3. 3 Anonymous February 10, 2008 at 1:44 am

    Anonimous is right – it’s latissimus dorsi, meaning “the widest muscle of the back”. It’s pretty wide indeed when it’s developed –

    Great blog, by the way.

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