It’s wonderfully unironic that Scrabble, a game about words, regularly facilitates unwinnable debates. That’s because, so often, it devolves into a conversation about what words aren’t actually words and which ones should be. Now, Merriam-Webster is giving new generations a chance to stump their families by adding 300 new words to the game night staple. Some of the additions to the newly published version of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary—like ‘ew’ for example—have been used for a long time. Other words like twerk are undoubtedly a product of the last decade or so.
One has to consider the fact that Merriam-Webster only updates the Scrabble dictionary about twice a decade. So even though adding 300 words to it may not seem like a huge deal at all, each new edition says volumes about the changing attitudes and trends in society, and there’s something to that.
“I think ew is interesting because it expresses something new about what we’re seeing in language, which is to say that we are now incorporating more of what you might call transcribed speech. Sounds like ew or mm-hmm, or other things like coulda or kinda.” said lexicographer (somebody who edits dictionaries) Peter Sokolowski. “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,”
The most recent version of the dictionary was published in 2014 and the newest edition is the sixth since the Scrabble dictionary was first compiled in 1976. Alongside the words ew and twerk the new edition has some other additions that are uniquely post-2014. The words bestie; a play off of the term best friend, and bitcoin; the totally digital cryptocurrency gunning for status as legitimate tender, are now playable words as well.