Score! Scrabble dictionary adds ‘OK,’ ‘ew’ to official play

Merriam-Webster’s sixth edition of ‘The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary’ released early Monday added more than 300 words in official play, including yowza, OK and ew. (AP)
Updated 24 September 2018
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Score! Scrabble dictionary adds ‘OK,’ ‘ew’ to official play

  • Among more than 300 additions are yowza, OK and ew
  • There’s another special new entry because it involves use of a q without a u: qapik

NEW YORK: Scrabble players, time to rethink your game because 300 new words are coming your way, including some long-awaited gems: OK and ew, to name a few.
Merriam-Webster released the sixth edition of “The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary” on Monday, four years after the last freshening up. The company, at the behest of Scrabble owner Hasbro Inc., left out one possibility under consideration for a hot minute — RBI — after consulting competitive players who thought it potentially too contentious. There was a remote case to be made since RBI has morphed into an actual word, pronounced rib-ee.
But that’s OK because, “OK.”
“OK is something Scrabble players have been waiting for, for a long time,” said lexicographer Peter Sokolowski, editor at large at Merriam-Webster. “Basically two- and three-letter words are the lifeblood of the game.”
There’s more good news in qapik, adding to an arsenal of 20 playable words beginning with q that don’t need a u. Not that Scrabblers care all that much about definitions, qapik is a unit of currency in Azerbaijan.
“Every time there’s a word with q and no u, it’s a big deal,” Sokolowski said. “Most of these are obscure.”
There are some sweet scorers now eligible for play, including bizjet, and some magical vowel dumps, such as arancini, those Italian balls of cooked rice. Bizjet, meaning — yes — a small plane used for business, would be worth a whopping 120 points on an opening play, but only if it’s made into a plural with an s. That’s due to the 50-point bonus for using all seven tiles and the double word bonus space usually played at the start.
The Springfield, Massachusetts-based dictionary company sought counsel from the North American Scrabble Players Association when updating the book, Sokolowski said, “to make sure that they agree these words are desirable.”
Sokolowski has a favorite among the new words but not, primarily, because of Scrabble scores. “It’s macaron,” he said, referring to the delicate French sandwich cookie featuring different flavors and fillings.
“I just like what it means,” he said.
Merriam-Webster put out the first official Scrabble dictionary in 1976. Before that, the game’s rules called for any desk dictionary to be consulted. Since an official dictionary was created, it has been updated every four to eight years, Sokolowski said.
There are other new entries Sokolowski likes, from a wordsmith’s view.
“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. 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,” he said.
Like ew, there’s another interjection now in play, yowza, along with a word some might have thought was already allowed: zen.
There’s often chatter around Scrabble boards over which foreign words have been accepted into English to the degree they’re playable. Say hello to schneid, another of the new kids, this one with German roots. It’s a sports term for a losing streak. Other foreigners added because they predominantly no longer require linguistic white gloves, such as italics or quotation marks: bibimbap, cotija and sriracha.
Scrabble was first trademarked as such in 1948, after it was thought up under a different name in 1933 by Alfred Mosher Butts, an out-of-work architect in Poughkeepsie, New York. Interest in the game picked up in the early 1950s, according to legend, when the president of Macy’s happened upon it while on vacation.
Now, the official dictionary holds more than 100,000 words. Other newcomers Sokolowski shared are aquafaba, beatdown, zomboid, twerk, sheeple, wayback, bokeh, botnet, emoji, facepalm, frowny, hivemind, puggle and nubber.


Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, who played Hitler, dies at 77

Swiss actor Bruno Ganz who gave a masterful performance as Adolf Hitler in "Downfall" has died. (Supplied)
Updated 15 min 59 sec ago
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Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, who played Hitler, dies at 77

  • Hitler is a figure that German-speaking actors have historically been reluctant to take on and the Zurich-born Ganz conceded that being Swiss provided a necessary buffer

GENEVA: Bruno Ganz, the Swiss actor who gave masterful performances as Adolf Hitler in “Downfall” and an angel seeking mortality in divided Berlin, died Saturday aged 77, his agent said.
Ganz, who was suffering from cancer, died “in the early hours of the morning” at his home in Zurich, the agent said.
Considered one of the greatest German-speaking actors in the post-World War II era, Ganz had a distinguished career on screen and stage before his 2004 appearance in “Downfall,” which unfolds over the final, suffocating days inside Hitler’s underground bunker.
For many critics, his nuanced portrayal of the fascist tyrant that veers between explosive and somber was unparallelled.
Hitler is a figure that German-speaking actors have historically been reluctant to take on and the Zurich-born Ganz conceded that being Swiss provided a necessary buffer.
Ganz won acclaim, and some criticism, for a performance shaped by historical records that showed a complex Hitler — at once unhinged and quivering as he berated his defeated generals, but who later displayed tenderness toward a frightened aide.
Ganz told The Arts Desk that he was amused by those who chastised him for “humanizing” the Nazi leader instead of portraying a caricature of evil.
People “need an intact icon of the evil itself,” he said. “I don’t know what evil itself is.”
When asked if he approached the part with the mindset that Hitler was, in the end, a human being, Ganz said: “Of course he is. What else should he be?“

Before the Oscar-nominated “Downfall,” which vaulted Ganz into new levels of global fame, he had already been acknowledged as one of the most important German-language actors.
In 1996 he was given the Iffland-Ring, a jewel officially owned by the Austrian state but held successively by the most significant performer in German theater of the time.
His fame was based on theatrical performances such as a landmark starring role in Goethe’s “Faust.”
He played the part in a 21-hour production mounted by director Peter Stein that ran at the beginning of the century.
On screen, his most prominent role before “Downfall” was in “Wings of Desire“(1987), in which he starred as the angel Damiel who eavesdrops on ordinary, melancholy moments around pre-unification Berlin. The original title was “The Sky Above Berlin.”
Dieter Kosslick, director of the Berlin film festival which holds its awards night late Saturday, called Ganz “one of the greatest and most versatile actors,” who made “international film history.
Ganz also starred in American films such as “The Boys From Brazil” about Nazi war criminals starring Gregory Peck and Laurence Olivier, a remake of “The Manchurian Candidate” and “The Reader” starring Kate Winslett.
His latest films saw Ganz play Sigmund Freud in “The Tobacconist” and included a role in “The House That Jack Built” by Lars von Trier which revolves around a serial killer.

Ganz’s family, mostly blue collar workers in Zurich, were baffled by his decision to quit school and pursue acting, the German news outlet Deutsche Welle (DW) reported on the actor’s 75th birthday.
He got by as a bookseller and a paramedic before moving to Germany in the early 1960s hoping to make it as a performer, according to DW.
He worked in some of Germany’s most prestigious theaters before breakthroughs in film that culminated with his depiction of the country’s most reviled leader.
He told The Arts Desk that to distance himself from the part after a day of shooting he had to “construct a wall or iron curtain” in his mind. “I don’t want to spend my evenings at the hotel with Mr. Hitler at my side.”
He later told the Berliner Morgenpost paper that the role haunted him for years.
But it may well have carved out his permanent place in film history.
The New Yorker magazine’s film critic David Denby called the performance “a staggering revelation of craft.”
“Ganz’s work (as Hitler) is not just astounding, it is actually rather moving,” Denby wrote in 2005.