The Tel Aviv Scrabble® Club

Club Director: Evan Cohen


A short list of useful Scrabble terms.
Many of these terms are used in the section on Rules and Regulations and, of course, are used during play. The terms are in alphabetical order.

  • Anagram - see: words which can be formed with the same letters are anagrams of one another (e.g. CAT and ACT ; EQUIP and PIQUE, INCISURE and SCIURINE). 
  • Back-hook - see: Hook
  • Balancing - Keeping a manageable vowel-consonant ratio on one's rack (ideally, 3 vowels to 4 consonants, no repeats). See also: Rack management.
  • Big ten - The ten tiles which are often considered the most valuable: JQXZ, four Ss, two blanks (aka: Power tiles)
  • Bingo - A word created by using all seven letters on one's rack, giving the player an extra 50 points (aka: Bonus).
  • Bingo stem - Six-letters (usually pronounced as a word) which one is reasonably likely to hold on one's rack and which combine with several tiles to create a bingo. Many players learn bingo stem lists to increase their chances of spotting bingoes. For example, the stem SATINE is considered the most versatile bingo stem, and can combine with any tile to make a bingo (e.g. SATINE+O=ATONIES, SATINE+J=JANTIES or TAJINES), except for Q and Y.  
  • Block - A play (or word) which prevents a players from using part of the board (see also: Opening).
  • Bonus - see: Bingo.
  • Challenge - The summoning of a third party to check a word played by one's opponent. If a phoney is challenged, it is removed and the player loses a turn. If the word is acceptable, practices vary. There are double-penalty challenges in which the challenger loses a turn for challenging an unacceptable word, single-penalty challenges in which the challenger does not lose a turn for challenging an unacceptable word, and point-penalty challenges (usually 5 points) in which the challenger loses X points for each word challenged, assuming all words are correct.
  • CSW - Collins, the international Scrabble dictionary.
  • Cumulative Differential - the total of a player's differentials in a series of games (usually a tournament).
  • Differential - The difference between the scores of the winner and the loser, e.g. If A beats B 360v.340, then A's differential is +20 and B's is -20 (aka: Spread).
  • Double-double - A play which simultaneously covers two double-word squares. The total value of the tiles is multiplied by 4 points.
  • Endgame - The last few moves of the game (some say when there are about 15 or fewer tiles left in the bag). Usually during the endgame, players have a reasonable idea of what their opponents have on their rack (as most of the tiles are already on the board), something which reduces luck and increases the importance of planning ahead.
  • Extension - The addition of more than one tile to the edge of an existing word, e.g. GRAVEST can take an extension of -ONE at the end to create GRAVESTONE ; TIES, can take an extension of INIQUI- at the beginning to create INIQUITIES. Of course, the more likely extensions mainly include prefixes (RE-, UN-, OUT- etc.) and suffixes (-ED, -ING etc.).
  • Front-hook - see: Hook.
  • Going-out move - a move in which a player empties his/her rack when there are no tiles left in the bag. In such a case, the player adds double the face value of the tiles on his/her opponent's rack to his/her score.
  • Hook - A letter which can be added before (i.e. Front-hook) or after (i.e. Back-hook) a word, e.g. "A" is a front-hook for LIKE, "D" is a back-hook for LIKE.
  • King-of-the-Hill - A tournament format in which #1 plays #2, #3 plays #4 etc (aka: KOTH).
  • KOTH - see: King-of-the-Hill.
  • Natural - a bingo played without a blank.
  • Nine-timer - see: triple-triple
  • Opening - A play which allows a player to use an otherwise unaccessible part of the board (see also: Block).
  • Opening move/word - The first word played in a game. This word must be placed on the centre square and the total value of the word is doubled.
  • OSPD - Official Scrabble Players' Dictionary, the American Scrabble dictionary.
  • OWL2 - Official Word List, the current American word list.
  • OSW - Official Scrabble Words, an obsolete word list, based on Chambers, the former official reference in the UK.
  • Overtime - Using more than the time allocated to a player or game. Ordinarily, when using clocks, players are allocated 25 minutes each and are penalised for "going overtime", i.e. for using more than 25 minutes.
  • Parallel play - the playing of a word alongside an existing word (as opposed to "hooking" it off a word's edge or playing through an existing word.
  • Pass - Giving up a turn (not playing or exchanging tiles) when unable or unwilling to place a word or exchange tiles.
  • Phoney - A "word" which is not acceptable in the agreed upon word source.
  • Rack management - Keeping tiles which could enable the best possible score in subsequent moves (e.g. don't keep GGRVV, balance your rack, don't keep two I's if there are 7 more still to come).
  • Power tiles - see: Big ten.
  • Rating - A number which supposedly predicts the chances of a player to win a game. Higher rated players are expected to beat lower rated players more often than not. See also "National Rating".
  • Round Robin - A tournament format in which players in a group play each of the other players in their group (aka: RR).
  • RR - see: Round Robin.
  • SOWPODS - OSW+OSPD, the international Scrabble dictionary (now CSW).
  • Spread - see: Differential.
  • Time/Timing games - Most Scrabble games are timed. Games played without chess clocks usually last up to 50 minutes. Often (especially in competitive Scrabble), players use chess clocks which time each player individually and allow a total of 25 minutes per player to complete all of his/her moves. Players going overtime are penalised.
  • Triple-triple - A play which simultaneously covers two triple-word squares. The total value of the tiles is multiplied by 9 points (aka: Nine-timer).