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Scrabblers just need to chillax, preferably with a triple-word score

We all must learn to evolve with the times and begrudgingly accept that words like “ridic” and “selfie” are part of the lexicon. But must our beloved Scrabble be tainted as well? University of Michigan English Professor Ann Curzan explains Scrabbling in a post-selfie stick world.

"On May 21, 6,500 new words were announced that were going to be added to the Collins Official Scrabble word list and this made headlines in the news," Curzan says. "Including a headline like 'Scrabble Adds Even More Garbage Words to its Dictionary.'"

Much to the dismay of some, ridic and chillax are among those 6,500 words, along with many other new, popular words.

"We see some of these new words are pop culture, technology,” Curzan explains. “For example, emoji is now in, hashtag, selfie, facetime. Which I think we'd all want to say, OK, those are words that people are using now."

Other words that are being added, with varying amounts of enthusiasm, include frenemy, vape, and warbot.

"So you get some of these which are new. Then, I think very much in the spirit of Scrabble, we have some words that at least for some of us feel a little more esoteric,” says Curzan. “So one of the new words is coqui, which is a type of tree-dwelling frog." 

Words are one thing, but the word list even added new spellings to old words.

"We have some new spellings and these I think one could say are rightly controversial," Curzan explains. "A word like wuz, W-U-Z. That spelling has been around for awhile as a kind of I-dialect. Now it's in the Scrabble dictionary."

New interjections have been added as well. You can now play “grr,” “waah,” or “blech."

"I like those, but people are saying those aren't really words,” says Curzan. “And I thought, well, if you're a Scrabbler, you know that there are plenty of other interjections that you're already allowed to use."

What's that you say? You didn't know you can already play "brr" or "pfft?" Now you do. So we can all just chillax, or at least not become frenemies.

– Cheyna Roth, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Anne Curzan is the Geneva Smitherman Collegiate Professor of English and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. She also holds faculty appointments in the Department of Linguistics and the School of Education.