In an NBA on ESPN commercial, Shaquille O'Neal is dominating a game of Scrabble. The (then) Phoenix Suns center baffles NBA analysts Stuart Scott and Mike Breen with words like "Shaqtastic" and "Shaqtus". The presence of so many Q's is challenged by the anchors. Additional humor in that he breaks almost every rule. Multiple turns in a row, words that aren't actually connected to each other, incomplete "words", and words that are far too long to be played at once. The shot of the game board doubles as a Freeze Frame Bonus.
Stuart: How did you get so many Q's-
Shaq: Don't worry about it.
And then called back in a later ad in which Shaq takes his opponents into the desert, and actually shows them a Shaqtus... a cactus with Shaq's face and number carved on it. And it has a definition: "Shaqtus" a cactus native to*
GEICO did this with the Caveman playing against Brian Orakpo. Orakpo uses "Orakpoed", meaning "another word for sack" followed by the Caveman putting "cat". Orakpo then plays out "Neanderthal" and "Geico" getting the Caveman insulted as usual.
Jack from Jack in the Box used "Swavory" to describe the taste of his new waffle breakfast sandwich (sweet and savory). His wife later spelled out "NONOOKIE".
In Generation X #2, Skin and Husk play Scrabble; Skin plays the word "BXLOMRMLEZQ" for 375 points. Husk humors him and doesn't challenge, though she does bring it up later when they have an argument about which of them is smarter.
Gryphon: In the pure form of LBS, no real words are allowed, and a player accidentally making up a word that can be proven real is disqualified.
In Sneakers, Bishop tries to play the word "scrunchy" and describes it as "you know what happens to your face? Right now, your face is scrunchy."
Of course, "scrunchy" is a real word, though some people might be more familiar with the spelling "scrunchie".
Subverted somewhat in King Ralph: When Ralph and Miranda are playing Scrabble during their first date, Ralph plays the simple word "yo". When Miranda objects, saying that there's no such word, Ralph replies, "Are you crazy? I use it all the time! You don't have to look it up. We're using the King's English, right? If I say it, it's a word."
Oddly enough, the rules for Scrabble do state that you can use slang...
One scene in the indie drama Snow Cake involves a game of "comic book word Scrabble", a variant in which made-up words are totally allowed as long as they sound reasonably comic-book-ish and the player can use them in a sentence. Words played during the game include "baang", "yaamool", and "dazlious".
In the documentary Word Wars, one of the players plays "bemeant" during a tournament, his opponent says later that he could have called him on it, but didn't.
Ken Park features a scene in which one rather sociopathic character's grandfather tries playing the word "sipi" in a Scrabble game, arguing that it's a part of the body below the hips. This results in the outraged grandson throwing the table and declaring himself the winner, and later murdering his grandparents.
In the German movie Ödipussi, the titular character is playing Scrabble with his mother and her friends. "Hund" (dog) is on the board, so the old lady whose turn it is turns it into "Hundnase" (dog nose - and yes, that's not correct German). When the others protest, she instead puts down "Schwanzhund" (taildog) - "a dog which has a tail". Which isn't accepted either, of course. Then another of the old ladies complains that she couldn't play "Quallenknödel" (jellyfish dumplings) either.
In Black Hawk Down, two helicopter pilots discuss their ongoing Scrabble game while switching patrol routes.
Durant: Super Six Four, this is Super Six One, go to UHF secure. I have some bad news for you. Wolcott: ...Limo is a word, Durant, I don't want to hear it. Durant: It is not a word! It's an abbreviation of a word! Wolcott: It is a word in common usage. That's the name of the game in Scrabble my friend, "common usage". Durant: When I get back to base it's coming off the board! Wolcott: You touch my "limo" and I'll spank you, Night Stalker. Durant: Heh, promises.
In Watchers by Dean Koontz, a significant shift in Nora's personality and her relationship with Travis is signaled by her joking with him by playing such fictitious words as "dofnup" (she claims it's a logger's nightcap) and "hurkey" (claiming it's a dish made with both ham and turkey).
The short story "Scrabble With God", by John M. Ford, uses this trope with a twist. "It isn't that He cheats, exactly." But any word He plays is a real word — even if it wasn't a minute ago. And He's not above uncreating things in order to be able to challenge His opponents' words, either...
One of Dave Barry's columns ("Wheel of Misfortune") talks about how he's bad at Scrabble and often makes words up. When asked to use the word "doot" in a sentence, his reply is "Look! A doot!" He later claims that the answer to a Wheel of Fortune puzzle contained this word.
In The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass aged 37¾, Leonard Thynn uses "vquex", which he insists is defined in the full length Oxford Dictionary as "a cross between a ferret and a giraffe". Gerald objects on the grounds that the required mating act would be physically impossible.
In It's Kind of a Funny Story, Craig plays Scrabble with two friends, whose house rules are "If you don't have a word, you can make up a word and think of a definition for it." Resulting in words like "smap" (a cross between a slap and a smack) and "trili" (an unmentionable act).
In "The Gossage-Vardebedian Papers," a story in Woody Allen's book Getting Even, a correspondence chess game becomes chaotic, so one party decides to play correspondence Scrabble instead. He claims to start the game with the word "zanjero," placed on the board for maximum possible points, of course.
Averted in Discworld when Leonard of Quirm invents the Make Words With Tiles That Have Been All Mixed Up Game. Everyone's words are perfectly cromulent (except for Nobby's - they aren't made up, it's just that Colon, who considers Leonard and Lord V to be Polite Society, won't let him explain what they mean). (Of course, Vetinari wins.)
Subverted in Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult. Fitz uses the word "linn" in Scrabble, which the the other players call him out on. It is a word that means "waterfall". After this, Delia and Eric read the dictionary so they can beat him, and their scrabble board is filled with words such as larum, girn, ghat, revet and valgus. Fitz eventually wins the game by using the word "fungible" on a triple word score.
Friends: Phoebe tries to play "scrunchy", Ross uses "garge" (which he claims is a nautical term), and Chandler uses "fligament". ...But scrunchy's a word... Which is the joke: They don't believe her.
Lois And Clark - "chumpy": an adjective for someone behaving like a chump.
Clark: Try again. Lois: Are you challenging me?! Clark: You bet your sweet little chumpy I am.
Seinfeld - "Quone": "To quone something!" Upon not finding it in the dictionary, Kramer explains that it's a medical term: "A patient gets difficult, you quone him!"
Will And Grace - "Spramp": "Every morning I... spramp my face with cold water. (...)The bubbles from a Jacuzzi spramp up. Note how the sea spramps off the jagged rocks."
Red Dwarf - "jozxyqk": a Cat word meaning "the sound you make when you get your sexual organs trapped in something."
Lister: Is it in the dictionary?
Cat: It might be, if you were reading it in the nude and closed the book too fast.
Used in Bottom, as part of a long string of jokes about not comprehending the point of a crossword puzzle. Asked to come up with a six-letter word meaning 'fish', Eddie takes it literally and comes up with "vzzbks".
Little Britain - "cupboardy" (Kenny Craig hypnotizes his mother to believe that "cupboardy" is a valid word.)
Frasier - "Quilty": "Her grandmother's bed was warm and... quilty."
Saturday Night Live: In one skit, the Coneheads use "sebfarg" and "klaatu" in a Scrabble game and try to pass them off as French words, since being French is their cover.
Randy: Melonology?! Brad: It's the study of melons! Mark: There's no such word as "melonology"! Brad: Sure there is! Call the fruit section of the grocery store. Randy: Who should I ask for? The melonologist? (later...) Jill: "Melonology"? Tim: Yeah, it's the study of guys named Mel!
Henry: Not a word. Shawn: Fergulous. Henry: I said not a word! Shawn: Oh, I see, last week when we were playing Scrabble it was not a word, but this week, when it's convenient for you, it is a word.
Malcolm In The Middle had Francis scamming Craig at Scrabble by claiming that everything was a "military term". He later retaliated:
"And I'm pretty sure 'myzsrec' is spelled with a 'k'!"
In a later episode, Malcolm invented words for his parents to use in a game of Scrabble, like jivku and nazqueb, with Hal even letting him blow off curfew for helping out.
Spaced had a variant in that the words weren't made up, just extremely dubious. They included "Shazam" and "Pro-V" ("That's not a word, it's something they made up to make shampoo sound important").
It should be noted though that "shazam" is indeed a playable word in a game of Scrabble.
As is Pro-V, with the new rules.
In a rare dramatic use of this trope, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation featured a player who used nonword "exvin" in a tournament for a Scrabble Fictional Counterpart game as a bluff. He then added insult to injury; when the opponent added an S to create "exvins", the first player challenged and had the tiles and points removed. This annoyed the opponent enough to murder him by shoving the tiles down his throat.
Earlier in the episode, Catherine showed that the word "vixen" could be spelled with the same letters, though had he played the valid word he couldn't have screwed his opponent on adding the "S", so it's likely he did it intentionally.
In Ellen, Adam is called on his use of the word "susurrus". It turns out to be a real word, but not for a kind of dinosaur as he claimed.
Not a Scrabble example, but there was an old MTV mockumentary about a boy band (2ge+ her) in which said boy band hosted a spelling bee where that word came up. When asked to use it in a sentence, they produced: "Hey, man: check out that sussurrus."
In an episode of The Golden Girls, Sophia plays the word "disdam". When Dorothy asks her to use it in a sentence, she says, "You're no good at disdam game!" Sophia usually cheats at board and card games and Dorothy references once having to challenge the word "flot".
Family Ties - Dad Steve puts down "zoquo", Greek for water sports. When Alex is accused of hoarding the U's so nobody can use a Q (which doesn't make sense; a normal Scrabble set contains only one Q, which already would be in "zoquo"), he puts down "ushnuu".
Alex: Yeah, it's Greek for... towel off. Steve: Use it in a sentence. Alex: After I zoquo I like to ushnuu.
Another way the accusation doesn't make sense is that there are several legitimate Scrabble plays which are derived from Arabic and contain Q which is not followed by U (suq, qat, qadi etc. — although these are more commonly spelled "souk", "khat" and "cadi" respectively, the Q-forms are all listed in Official Scrabble Words). There is also the perfectly legitimate word tranq (short for tranquilizer; it fails spell check, but it passes in Scrabble).
Subverted in the British SitcomGrownups: Claire and Grant are playing Scrabble and the former ends the game with the word "fadge". Grant demands Claire to use it in a sentence and Claire says "I beat Grant at Scrabble using the word 'fadge'." Unconvinced, Grant checks the dictionary... and it turns out to be a real word.
Inverted when dumb guy Mark puts down the word 'oxygen'. The others convince him that this is not a word but an abbreviation so that it will fit on those tanks. When he asks why they don't print it vertically they tell him it's illegal. He is convinced and puts down the word 'it' instead.
Played straight when Darlene plays the word "BUCKETY" in a game of Scrabble against her sister Becky. When Becky challenges it, Darlene defines it as "of, pertaining to, or having the characteristics of a bucket". Becky appeals to their father to mediate, and he casually replies, with a shrug, "It's a perfectly cromulent word".
Bob:Xebec? Jake: Yeah, xebec. Bob: That's not a word. Jake: Sure it is. It's an antiquated, tri-masted Grecian vessel. Bob:None of those are words!
Doubly subverted in ALF; Alf plays the word "quidnunc". Everyone challenges him, but the word exists (it's a term, originally from Latin, for a gossip), although it's not what Alf thought it was (a person who wears meat). Since they all challenged, Alf gets an Extra Turn: He turns the word into "quidnuncle", a relative who wears meat.
Parodied in the French-Canadian series "Le Coeur à Ses Raisons". Brett and Criquette are playing a friendly game of scrabble. Criquette places the letters "W-Q-T" to spell the word "Waquetue", a (fictious) nocturnal aquatic animal. Brett spells the word "quixict" (QXTC), also a nocturnal aquatic animal. Criquett then adds an "s" to "QXTC" to spell the word "helicopter"...
Not really a straightforward example, but in an episode of Yes Dear, Jimmy attempts to play "Cheeto", but misspells it as "Cheato". Kim (having obviously never played Banjo-Kazooie) calls him on his spelling error and said he couldn't use it anyway because it was a brand name for a snack food. Jimmy then challenges her earlier play of "ritzy" on the same merits.
Also, a couple minutes later, he asks if "gloonge" is a word.
Subverted in NCIS - Tim is winning a scrabble game by a lot of points, and smugly remarks: "It's going to be awfully difficult to play that Q without a U." Of course, Ziva plays it as "Qi" in such a good place that she wins the game, with Timothy still arguing that it isn't a word. Of course, he has to say that considering he's a published author who just got beaten by someone who speaks English (badly) as a seventh language.
As Time Goes By (Series 5, Episode 1) - After disagreements over furzes and an attempt to change cottage to pottage, Jean places flug and claims it's Old English. All of the preceding are words, although 'flug' is German.
M*A*S*H did this as a throwaway joke during one of the earlier episodes. Hawkeye tries to play the word "vailness", defining it as "a quality of vail; the act of vailing; to be full of vaily."
Henry: "Vailness?" What the devil does "vailness" mean? Trapper: It means he's losing. Take that off.
Inverted in an episode of That '70s Show, where Midge was unable to realize that she had the word "zygotes" spelled out in order in her... tile-holding thingamajig.
Three's Company - Jack plays the word "Zixik" and claims that it means "an Abyssinian nose-flute."
Kanal K, an Argentinian version of the British Spitting Image, had the likeness of then president Menem playing Scrabble with other character and making up words based in his known extensively publicized verbal blunders. One of his words is "esnesario" (he famously mangled to this the phrase "es necesario") an other is "latoye" (his daughter's then boyfriend was the soccer player Latorre, and the mangled result was the way he pronounced the name due to his being from La Rioja province).
Stephen Colbert, in response to Hasbro's (or, more specifically, Mattel's) proposed rule change, revealed his "new" middle name, Qxyzzy. it requires 0-point blank tiles to spell out, as it contains a second "z", but otherwise would be a legal word under the new rules (if it were his actual middle name). However, under those rules, Xexex (an actual arcade game) would be legal (albeit low-scoring due to 2 zero-point blanks).
The unrelated NES game Xexyz would also be legal— and score 23.
Corner Gas: Hank, in the first move of the game, decides to start things off with "abang". After being told that's two words, he decides to play... "A".
Emma: Is it too late to put money on this?
In an episode of The Bob Newhart Show, Howard tries to use the word "zoophyte," in a game of scrabble, defining it as "a fight between two or more animals at a zoo." It is challenged and found to be an actual word, so he wins the game. (It actually is a term for an animal that visually appears to be a plant.)
Back when Gary Gygax did a monthly column for Dragon magazine, he related an incident involving the word "quij".
In Quest once had an article which documented a three-day marathon of gaming by five editors. The last game was Scrabble. Since it was being played by sleep-deprived professional geeks, 'words' like "ROUS" became very common with no one being called out. Also, the geek-friendly "CTHULHU" and the slightly more dubious "URMFGA."
Hobbes: "Zqfmgb" isn't a word! It doesn't even have a vowel! Calvin: It is so a word! It's a worm found in New Guinea! Everyone knows that! Hobbes: I'm looking it up. Calvin: You do, and I'll look up that 12-letter word you played with all the X's and J's!" Hobbes: ...what's your score for "zqfmgb"?
In another strip, Calvin somehow scores 2 points by playing the word "be", despite the letter B being worth three points in Scrabble. (It's technically possible that the B could have been a blank, and he played the 'E' on a double-score tile, but who's counting?) Hobbes counters with "Nucleoplasm", which is a real word, but it's left unclear how he could spell an 11-letter word in a single turn. (It's possible he could have prefixed "nucleo" to an existing "plasm" on the board, but that's not important.)
Considering he makes up his own Chance cards for Monopoly, they could be using house rules. That or Calvin, being six years old, doesn't understand the rules entirely.
In the Adventures in Odyssey episode "Always", Bethany (who is implied to do this on a regular basis) invents the word "narfy", defined as not feeling like doing anything today. She proceeds to use it in a narfy-sounding sentence, then differentiates it from "glubby", which is a similar state brought on by having eaten too much. At the end of the episode, when her older sister Aubrey has left for college, she defends the word "fudnoof" by calling her. Aubrey is able to match her sister's definition without any cues.
Stand Up Comedy
Ted Blumberg once recounted a game of Scrabble with his younger sister during which she played the word "PLRTNYP", and then dared him to look it up in the dictionary. He found the word in the dictionary, defined as "word only used in Scrabble", written in crayon.
One of French comedian Pierre Palmade's sketches depicts a game of Scrabble with his wife and son, coming up with such words as KAWAX and WAKER.
Note that "W" is one of the highest scoring letters in French Scrabble, unlike in the English version.
Mike Birbiglia, referring to the state of rap; he "wouldn't want to play Scrabble with Jay-Z".
"'The word is 'DRIZZAH', D-R-I-Z-Z-A-H, triple word.' 'Yeah, I'm gonna have to challenge that one, Jay... let me consult my dictionizzah. First of all, it's not a word. Second of all, one of your Zs is a sideways N◊."
Subverted in oneSheldon. A random word Arthur put out turned out to be real.
In Wondermark, during a game of Boggle, Laurence claims that "glond" is a word (when pressed for a definition, he says it's an archaic verb meaning "to lie convincingly"), and then finds 87 points worth of conjugations. The Alt Text states that "So far in this game, Laurence has identified twenty-four previously-unknown terms for 'to lie convincingly.'" Then, in a followup blog post, the author discovers to his dismay that "glond" allegedly was a word at one point.
David Malki !: Now, then: Nikolardo points out that the bottom section of the page, where “glond” is found, is a special space for “words which were variants and/or archaic at the time this dictionary was printed, which was 1918.” So it can be argued that “glond” is not really a word. Not anymore. And what is glond? “Awlwort” or “Cowherb.” THOSE ARE NOT WORDS EITHER.
In Dragon City Rachel is trying to teach her son Jonas how to play Scrabble and uses "Bixt" because it crosses with "Oxen" to which her husband Sam points out that "Bixt" isn't a word.
In Adventurers!, Argent puts perfectly valid words on the scrabble board (Like "Justice" or "Nice"), but Khrima challenges them on the grounds that the words are not evil.
The letters would actually be fine - the bigger problem is that Marge, Homer and Lisa had been playing 2 and 3-letter words and didn't leave him much to work with.
Inverted in the same episode, where Homer complains of having a bad set of tiles — that spell out "oxidize." Oddly, unlike many examples, combining both these "words" into a single game is still entirely possible with the rarity of certain letters.
However, the score given is incorrect, as pointed out here.
The Critic: Extremely rich guy Duke makes up the word "qzybuk", and when Marty calls him on it, Duke phones Noah Webster himself (ignoring the fact the man has been dead for 150 years) and bribes them to make it a real word. Which he did, with a definition he made up on the spot ("How about...a big problem?"). Another character uses the word later in the same episode.
Duke: How about that other word I invented, "Duke-licious"? No one's using it? What a Duke-tastrophe.
It might be noticed that the writer for The Critic, Jon Vitti, also wrote the The Simpsons "Kwyjibo" episode (Bart the Genius), making it a bit of a Recycled Joke.
The Dilbert cartoon does it when Dilbert is forced to defeat a supercomputer at Scrabble. The computer just lays out all its tiles, then hacks into various online dictionaries and inserts, for example, the word "wipqozn" into society.
In another instance, Dogbert cheats by using a wood burner to make counterfeit tiles. Although the word he plays is an actual word ("Quizzing"), there's only one Z in a Scrabble set, as Dilbert himself points out.
That's the sort of thing that allowed him to lose 188 games in a row...
Also inverted when Dilbert tries to play "it". Dogbert challenges, and wins because the dictionary in which they look "it" up was published by Dilbert's company and actually does not contain the word.
They did it in the comic too, though subverted. Dogbert played "neans".
Dilbert: Neans is not a word.
Dogbert: I know, but I wanted to get rid of some N's.
This may actually play off the author's real life issues with the game, thanks to his mother.
It wasn't until college that I learned Webster did not make any last-minute additions to the dictionary. To this day, I still wonder if headbutting is legal in Scrabble.
Played with in Taz-Mania, where Taz makes a weird word, with symbols that aren't even in Scrabble pieces, but when he was called on it, it actually was in the dictionary, albeit a dictionary of vulgar expletives.
An episode of The Flintstones opens with Fred playing Scrabble against Arnold the paper boy, and trying to pass off "zarf" as a word.
"Zarf" is an antiquated Victorian word describing an ornamental cup holder for a hot cup without a handle. Just so you know.
Brain: For the last time Pinky, there is no such word as chramecirum.
Pinky: Well, there is now Brain, because we own the world.
(After deciding to play against himself.)
Brain:(Adds an s) There. Chramecirums. Now that's a word. And a triple word score to boot.
In an episode of King of the Hill, Cotton is playing Scrabble with his fellow World War II veterans and plays "anzio". One of them challenges, and Cotton relates the stirring story of the Battle of Anzio. His friend retracts his challenge, even though it's a proper noun.
The Looney Tunes Show: In "Itsy Bitsy Gopher", Daffy attempts to play "dovarg", before announcing that he is going to the kitchen as he feels totally "dovarg". In a Strange Minds Think Alike moment, we later learn that Lola invented a type of sandwich that she calls a dovarg. And, at the end of the episode, Dr. Weinstein mentions it is the name of an anti-inflammatory preparation.
The ZX Spectrum version of Scrabble had a fairly restricted dictionary, due to reasons of space; allegedly it cut out some of the simpler words so the computer could play more complex ones. This resulted in illegal moves not being rejected, but the computer asking the user to confirm whether he was playing a valid word. Which he was. Every time. Honest. What do you mean "QXWWVAR" isn't a word?
Now long since averted, as all modern digital incarnations of Scrabble run on platforms easily capable of referencing the entire list of officially allowed words.
Oxyphenbutazone. (Which is also an aversion: It is, in fact, a word listed in the official Scrabble tournament dictionaries.) This could theoretically score 1785 points, if you can manage to snag three triple-word-scores at the same time with just seven tiles.
And if you were wondering, it's a metabolite of a veterinary anti-inflammatory drug, most often used to treat horses.
The band Foghat was named after an attempt at a KWYJIBO by one of its members.
This does happen in actual Scrabble matches, since (as previously mentioned) it's Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught. And calling another player on a foul word means that one of you will lose a turn (whose exactly, depends on the outcome).
The game Perquackey, in which players have to form words from a set of lettered dice, is actually named after one of its own kwyjibos.
If you are ever so lucky as to get the right letters, "syzygy" is a very real word and worth a truckload of points. Sure it's not all 7 and you'd have to use a blank, but still, it's legal.
The official "best" word in Scrabble is "quizzify" which requires a blank tile for the extra z and playing off another tile on the board. No one has ever gotten it in tournament play to date.
Careful with your kwyjibos, though - although making claims like this◊ is common in fiction, Scrabble doesn't allow proper names no matter how they're spelled. Except if you're playing the special edition named Scrabble Trickster.
David L. Smith, the author of the Melissa virus, called himself "Kwyjibo"
Also happens when playing with foreign sets. Even if the alphabets shared are exactly the same, the distribution of letters will make playing by any realistic means incredibly difficult - see also; Welsh, and only one Y in English Scrabble sets.
There are a variety of alternate rule sets for Scrabble that encourage making up words. Some House Rules allow a clearly-made up word if funny enough and in one varient, Lying Bastard Scrabble, players are penalized for playing words that can be found in the dictionary.
There's also a variation, Clabbers, in which anagrams are allowed - the letters within a word can appear in any desired order for maximum scoring.
All sorts of shenanigans are allowed when playing Scrabble For Cheaters, a New York fundraiser that gets people to donate money in exchange for bending the rules in a competitive Scrabble match. Cheats start at $50 (for swiping another tile out of the bag) to $500 (to invent your own kwyjibo, no questions asked). Winners receive the coveted Cheater's Cup.
In one Futurama DVD commentary, David X. Cohen mentions playing LEKQZ, which he claims is the national currency of Albania, multiple times in Scrabble. It's actually spelled without the Q or Z, and Cohen probably knows that.