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Scrabble Babble

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The downside of playing Scrabble against a Starfish Language speaker.

"My turn. 'Kwyjibo'. K-W-Y-J-I-B-O. Twenty-two points, plus triple-word score, plus 50 points for using all my letters. Game's over, I'm outta here."
Bart Simpson, The Simpsons, "Bart the Genius"

The cast is sitting around playing Scrabble (or some obvious knockoff) when someone plays a nonsense word and gets called on it. The cheater will be forced to "prove" it's a real word by giving its definition.

If the writers know something about Scrabble, expect the word to contain copious amounts of the high-scoring consonant tiles (J, K, Q, X, and Z) or a full rack of seven tiles. Let's ignore the fact that actual English-language Scrabble sets only contain one each of those tiles (the game's wildcards, the two blank tiles, are worth no points on their own). A similar game, Bananagrams, contains two of each of those consonants.

Usually, but not always, a sitcom trope.

A Rules Lawyer may note that even according to official Scrabble rules, players are still technically allowed to play such words — you just have to pay a points penalty if your opponent challenges them. Also, contrary to the trope, asking an opponent to actually define a challenged word is considered bad form in high-level play; tournament Scrabble players are too busy memorizing huge lists of allowed words to bother with trivial things like what the words mean. (Case in point: the French world championship was won by a man who didn't speak French.) It also doesn't have to specifically be Scrabble they're playing; it could also be Boggle, the aforementioned Bananagrams, Bookworm Adventures, or whatever.

Subtrope of Neologism. See also Perfectly Cromulent Word and Antidisestablishmentarianism. See Eleventy Zillion for a numerical version.

Compare Boggles the Mind, when people use real words that reflect what's on their mind. See also Hollywood Board Games, when playing Tabletop Games serves as characterization.


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  • 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 connected, 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 tonote  Arizona,note  Southern Californianote  and Florida.note  And Ohio.note 
      Shaq: See, I told ya so.
    • Now that he's an analyst for TNT, one can only hope this will get a follow-up.
  • There was a Disneyland commercial in which a little girl manages supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Yeah, they were playing with house rules...
  • 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".

  • 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."
  • Bill Engvall talks about playing Scrabble with his wife. She creates words like "crepuscular" (which, for those interested, means "active at dawn and dusk"; unfortunately, even constructing it around an existing word "pus" takes more than seven letters); the best he can do is "et."
    "He et his biscuit."

    Comic Books 
  • 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 argue about which of them is smarter.
  • A one-off Oink! strip used this trope, but subverted it because the word was supposedly in the dictionary, albeit defined as "a word commonly used for cheating at Scrabble".
  • The Powerpuff Girls play a Scrabble-type game in "Super Scramble" (DC issue #64). The words they create are types of monsters that Him manifests as threats to Townsville.
  • Red Dwarf Magazine: One strip featured the word Yizox, which Rimmer claims to be the Plutonian word for teeth, being used in a game of scrabble. He is later forced to admit that he made it up when he is put into danger.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Calvin plays "Zqfmgb" on a Double Word Score box for 957 points.
      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"?
      Calvin: 957.
    • In another strip, Calvin somehow scores 2 points by playing the word "be", despite the letter B being worth three points in Scrabble. Hobbes counters with "nucleoplasm", which is a real word, but an illegal play because the U forms "cu", not a valid word, with an adjacent word.
  • There is a Mother Goose and Grimm cartoon that shows Grimm and Attilla playing Scrabble. Grimm challenges Attilla when he plays the word "meow". The point being that Grimm is a dog and Attila is a cat.
  • FoxTrot: "What does H-O-H spell?" "Water?" Slightly justified in that the structure for water is indeed H-O-H (H2O).
  • After a long dry spell in a game, Wally of Stone Soup puts down "Zuccini" [sic] on a double-word score. He defends himself by saying that's how it's spelled at the produce stand, only to be told "They also sell 'onyons' and 'bokays'."
  • Dilbert:
    • In one strip (September 8, 1989), Dogbert plays the word 'neans', not for the points, but simply to get rid of some N's. Dilbert responds with "The N's don't justify the 'neans'," and Dogbert responds "I just wanted to hear you say that."
    • Dilbert's mother has been accused of trying to use "counterfeit vowels" in a game of Scrabble; the charges were never proven.
  • Sherman's Lagoon: While hiding in Hawthorne's crab hole during a typhoon, Sherman and Fillmore try to get their minds off the rising tension by playing Scrabble. Fillmore puts down the word "BLSTRCHTX" — which according to him is the noise that Sherman makes when he snores.

    Fan Works 
  • Undocumented Features has Lying Bastard Scrabble. Here is a forum post about it.
    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.
  • Sunset's Little Twilight: Subverted - four of the girls play Scrabble at Applejack's house at one point (Pinkie and Applejack are playing Go Fish in the same room), and both Sunset and Twilight play real words that they have to explain - Sunset's is "Alicorn", which she explains by pointing to Twilight, and Twilight's is "zax", which Rainbow Dash doesn't believe is real even after Applejack says she used one a while back. It's soon confirmed to be a type of cutting tool.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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 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 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 Odipussi, 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: No, if it's not in the dictionary it doesn't count.
    Wolcott: It doesn't have to be in the dictionary!
    Durant: It does have to be in the dictionary! Listen, when I get back to base it's coming off the board!
    Wolcott: You touch my "limo" and I'll spank you, Night Stalker. Ya hear me?
    Durant: Heh, promises.
  • In The Kingdom, Janet Mayes and Adam Leavitt play Scrabble on plane to Saudi Arabia. She plays "whelp", which he claims isn't a word. Sykes, not playing but listening in, informs him that it is in fact a word. Mayes and Sykes are right.

  • 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 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 because 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. (This is actually an aversion - "zanjero" might sound made up but it's actually a real word, meaning an official in charge of water distribution).
  • 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.
  • Goosebumps: In "Return of the Mummy", Gabe and his cousin Sari spend a lot of time playing Scrabble while waiting for Sari's father to finish working for the day, but Sari plays this trope to win a lot - by claiming Gabe, who tends to put down really good words, is the one cheating by making up fake words. Since they don't have a dictionary in the tent, she wins most of the arguments.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Friends: Phoebe tries to play "scrunchy". Ross and Chandler dismiss it as one of these. (...But scrunchy ''is'' a word) Then they do it themselves.
    Ross: Um, Pheebs? I don't think 'scrunchy' is a word.
    Phoebe: Why not? If 'crunchy' is a word, why isn't 'scrunchy'?
    Chandler: Well, okay, then I am using that same argument for 'fligament'.
    Chandler: 'Garge'?
    Ross: Nautical term.
  • Lois & 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 & 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."
  • 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.
  • MADtv (1995) had this trope in a fake commercial for a special edition Scrabble game as played by Bill Cosby and Little Richard (both played by cast member Aries Spears).
  • Home Improvement:
    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?
    Jill: "Melonology"?
    Tim: Yeah, it's the study of guys named Mel!
  • Psych
    Henry: Don't say a word.
    Shawn: Fergulous.
    Henry: Shawn, I said no words
    Shawn: Oh, I see how it works. Two weeks ago, we're playing Scrabble it's not a word, now suddenly it is a word, because it's convenient for you
  • In Webster, George plays BOYRDEE. (Ironically, he does this after challenging Katherine's word, which turns out to be a real word.) Both Webster and Gramps suggest that Katherine challenge this one too, but the scene ends a minute later.
  • Malcolm in the Middle:
    • Francis is scamming Craig at Scrabble by claiming that everything was a "military term". He later retaliates:
      Craig: And I'm pretty sure "myzsrec" is spelled with a "k"!
    • In another episode, Hal and Lois were both bribing Malcolm with special privileges to help them come up with words for the letters they had, like jivku and nazqueb, which Malcolm gleefully admits to the camera are completely made up.
  • 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 features 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.
  • Subverted in the British Sitcom Grownups: 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.
  • Roseanne:
    • 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.
  • In The Office, Michael attempts to hasten a game of Scrabble between Jim and Creed by grabbing all of Jim's tiles and playing "NOSCRUB." Creed immediately challenges.
  • Becker:
    • Bob complains about his useless letters - "J! A! C! K! A! S! S!" - and has them exchanged. Reggie tells him, "You had a word! 'Jackass'!" Bob replies, "Hey, I'm doing the best I can, moron!"
    • Later, Jake plays 'Xebec':
      Bob: I still say that's not a word.
      Jake: Bob, I told you, it's an antiquated, tri-masted Mediterranean sailing vessel. (which is the actual definition)
      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. By Alf's definition, Lady Gaga is a quidnunc.
  • Parodied in the French-Canadian series Le cœur a 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 (fictitious) 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 snack food. Jimmy then challenges her earlier play of "ritzy" on the same merits. Also, a couple of 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. Well, Hollywood Badly.
  • 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.
  • In the Man About the House episode "In Praise of Older Men", Robin plays the word "ZXC" and tells a dubious Jo that it's an Abyssinian nose-flute that makes a sound familiar to female rhinoceroses in heat; Jo asks Chrissy for confirmation, and Robin is initially surprised when she says it's an Abyssinian nose-flute... until she adds, "I dunno, that's what you just said!" The joke was recycled in its American counterpart, the Three's Company episode "Chrissy's Date", with Jack playing "ZXC" and insisting it's an Abyssinian nose-flute, while Janet doesn't buy it and awards him no points despite Jack almost getting Chrissy to side with him until she admits she only "knows" the definition because she heard him say it.
  • 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") and another 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.
    • He challenged a young boy called Brandon to a Scrabble game and insisted that BURGLKAF was a word. ("Burglkaf's not a word". "Oh, really, cos you just used it in a sentence, smart guy!"). In the next episode, he jumps over BURGLKAF in the opening credits.
  • 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?
    • Which, unlike most of the examples of this page, is a real word, and the person playing it did know it, spelled it correctly, and knew the meaning of it. Hank fell victim to a completely different rule, namely, that it's not legal to play single letter words in Scrabble, because if it was legal, people would be randomly trying to claim extra points every time they used 'A' or 'I'. (In fact, as all letters are in the dictionary as themselves, they'd probably all count as 'words' if not specifically excluded.)
  • 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.)
  • The IT Crowd: Moss successfully plays "TNETENNBA" on an episode of Countdown. A real Countdown contestant referenced this when he wore a T-shirt with the line "Good morning, that's a nice TNETENNBA" on it.
  • In a scene on The Sketch Show, Lee Mack's tactic is to slip his made-up words into the conversation and explain what they mean before his turn starts. First is "quazoosl", referring to someone being so good looking they become intimidating (the example he gives is Elizabeth Hurley). In a later sketch, he offers Tim Vine a glass of "saxisquith". Tim replies, "Don't even think about it."
  • The Big Bang Theory: A variation occurs in one episode when the guys are playing Klingon Boggle and Howard finds the word "kreplach."
    Raj: That isn't Klingon, it's Yiddish for "meat-filled dumpling."
    Howard: Well, as it turns out, it's also a Klingon word.
    Leonard: Really? Define it.
    Howard: Kreplach: a hearty Klingon...dumpling.
  • The Partridge Family: While playing Scrabble with Laurie, Danny tries to play "Brogak," which he says is an elf-like creature found in Thailand, frequently killed and made into lamps.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: At the end of the episode "Repairs", most of Coulson's team are playing Scrabble (or at least, UpWords). Simmons plays "aglet", which the others protest isn't a word. Settled when Skye looks it up online.
  • Justified: Wynn Duffy and Mikey are playing scrabble, and Mikey plays "aplex":
    Wynn: "Aplex"?
    Mikey: Yeah, 28 points. Boom!
    Wynn: I'm pretty sure "aplex" isn't a word, Mikey.
    Mikey: Of course it is. "I don't like that guy, he aplexes me."
    [Later, after Wynn gets off a phone call]
    Mikey: You OK? You look aplexed.
  • Married... with Children: In an opening scene, Kelly and Bud are playing Scrabble, and Kelly puts down "NBC." Bud challenges.
    Bud: 'NBC' isn't a word.
    Kelly: It is a word. It's just not a network.

    Print Media 
  • 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."

  • 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.
  • The Burkiss Way is characterized by parodying other, more successful radio broadcasts of the time and by the long titles it assigns to its slots. So, when the narrators wanted to spoof The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978), they changed mocked the latter's alien-sounding names by referring to them as stuff you'd get from leftover Scrabble tiles. E.g., the constellation Go-And-Upset-Another-Scrabble-Board-Les-I-Need-A-New-Name.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978) primary phase ends with Arthur Dent trying to teach Scrabble to the caveman in order to help them evolve. "The only word they know is 'grunt' and they can't spell it right." Arthur and Ford Prefect use the letters from the Scrabble bag as a random element in coaxing the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything (the answer being 42, which the caveman has pointed out on the board).

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Warhammer, this, along with Language Equals Thought, is why Khazalid has so many words to describe gold. The dwarfs have a drinking game called the Gold Song, where each participant takes a turn singing a verse about gold, using a different word each time. Since any dwarf who fails to think of a new word for gold has to pay for another round of drinks, this leads dwarfs to invent new words for gold that, if unchallenged, get added to the dwarf lexicon. Thus we have gal for any type of gold, gorl for soft and yellow gold (or the color yellow in general), konk for ruddy gold (or a bulbous red nose), ril for gold ore that shines brightly in rock, bryn for gold or anything else that shines brightly in the sunlight, galaz for ornamental gold, galbaraz for "oathgold"...


    Web Original 
  • In his review of Ken Park (mentioned above), Kyle Kallgren noted that 'sipi' is a real the Tagalog language. (It means 'copy'.)

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Kwyjibo": "Uh... a big, dumb, balding North American ape. With no chin. ...And a short temper." (Homer then becomes angry and threatens to hurt Bart, prompting Bart to quip: "Uh-oh, kwyjibo on the loose!") Admittedly those were pretty lousy letters (and Marge, Homer, and Lisa had been playing 2- and 3-letter words, leaving him little 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.
    • Oddly played in the episode "Flaming Moe" where the old folks at the retirement home are playing Scrabble and Abe plays the word "be", which is challenged by the Old Jewish Guy. Whether he's doing it because the "e" is the oversized "E" of the MOE'S Tavern sign thrown through the window is never clarified.
  • The Critic: Extremely rich guy Duke makes up the word "quzybuk", 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. 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.
    Duke: How about that other word I invented, "Duke-licious"? No one's using it? What a Duke-tastrophe.
  • Dilbert:
    • Dilbert is forced to defeat a supercomputer at Scrabble. The computer just orders Asok to lay 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.
    • This may actually play on 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 paperboy, 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.
  • Inverted in Stickin' Around where the bored kids bust out 'Squabble', where they must use anything that isn't a word.
  • American Dad!:
    • In the episode "Stan Knows Best", the family is playing Scrabble. Roger the alien tries to play "quivecs".
      Steve: Quivecs? That's not a word!
      Roger: It is on my planet.
      Francine: Is it a proper noun?
      [Roger scowls and withdraws his tiles.]
    • In the Valentines-at-the-lake episode, Stan tries to kwyjibo, but gets caught and passes. He's holding 2 blanks and can spell "take" "smokes" "to" "skank" (which he just did/needs to do).
  • In the Metalocalypse episode "Klokblocked", the guys (minus Nathan) are playing Scrabble. Skwisgaar plays the word quhzk.
    Skwisgaar: ...Okay, this is a words? Q-U-H-Zs-K?
    Toki: Quhzks! That's whats the ducks says!
    • Which is something of a subversion on account of it being a real word, but spelled (horribly) wrong. It should be noted that Skwisgaar and Toki don't have the greatest grasp on the English language in the first place. (They're Swedish and Norwegian respectively.)
    • Also, no one at the game seems to care that "quhzk" isn't a real word. Pickles even tallies up the score without becoming suspicious.
  • The T.U.F.F. Puppy episode "Share-A-Lair" features "Schmoodled", which is then used later in the episode whenever something gets blown up.
    Snaptrap: That's "Schmoodled" for 370 points!
    Larry: That's not a word! Use it in a sentence!
    [Snaptrap grabs a blaster and fires at Larry]
    Snaptrap: There, I Schmoodled Larry!
  • While ruling over an abandoned Earth, Pinky and the Brain play Scrabble in the White House.
    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.note 
  • 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 episode "Peggy the Boggle Champ" had a few instances of this:
      • At the beginning, Peggy's teaching Minh how to play Boggle, and the only words we see her come up with are "bametomyam," a Thai spicy noodle soupnote , and "pad thai," which Peggy couldn't find in the dictionary (we can only assume "bametomyam" was also disqualified).
      • Happens to Peggy in the first match against Cissy Cobb, with the only word she could come up being "dang", which isn't in the dictionary and ends up losing 0-73 to Cissy.
      • Subverted in the final round when Cissy sees Peggy's final word, which she thinks is "ain't", but turns out to be "acquaintanceship".
  • The Looney Tunes Show: In "Itsy Bitsy Gopher", Daffy attempts to play "darvog", before announcing that he is going to the kitchen as he feels totally "darvog". In a Strange Minds Think Alike moment, we later learn that Lola invented a type of sandwich that she calls a darvog. And, at the end of the episode, Dr. Weinstein mentions it is the name of an anti-inflammatory preparation.
  • Referred to: In "Napoleon Bunny-part," Bugs Bunny is playing with Napoleon's battle maps and models:
    Bugs: Hey, Nappy. This has Scrabble beat a mile. You ought to patent it!
  • American Dragon: Jake Long: One episode has Lao-Shi and Fu Dog play the game with a group of magical creatures. Much to Lao-Shi's frustration, they play with an Elfin dictionary so words like "leprechaunistic" are completely legal.

    Real Life 
  • Early video game versions of Scrabble had fairly restricted built-in dictionaries due to space limitations; the ZX Spectrum version allegedly cut out some of the simpler words so the computer could play more complex ones. If a word was not found in the dictionnary, the game would ask whether the word was valid and would let it stand if the player said it was indeed valid, leading to such plays as "QXWWVAR" being acceptable. Some more primitive versions (e.g. a late 1990s-early 2000s mobile phone port) would not even check words past a certain length (e.g. six letters), while other more sophisticated versions (e.g. the 1990 Deluxe Scrabble PC port) would save words confirmed as valid into the dictionary, leading to the AI later playing "QXWWVAR" against you. Averted by modern versions, who run on platforms easily capable of storing or looking up the entire official list of accepted words (about 2.5 MB before compression, which would be unthinkable in the '80s-'90s and even into the 2000s for mobile devices).
  • 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.
    • Possible with the letters AEHNPYZ, if the legitimate words "ox", "but", and "one" are in the right places to start with. (Although they'd cover all three triple word scores, taking all the fun out of playing the word in the first place.) "Oxy" and "zone" are also legitimate words, and the word "hen" could fit in the middle as well.
    • Another option is BEOPXYZ with "hen", "uta" (a genus of lizard), and "on" on the board, and no triple word scores already covered. However, that requires X, Y, and Z.
    • And if you were wondering, it's a metabolite of a veterinary anti-inflammatory drug, most often used to treat horses.
  • See whether this puzzle from the MIT Mystery Hunt isn't within your grasp.
  • 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 named after one of its own kwyjibos.
  • If you are ever so lucky as to get the right letters, "syzygies" and "syzygial" are very real words and is worth a maximum of 302 points. In case you were wondering, it's an astronomical term referring to planetary alignment.
    • Better than that is "zyzzyvas", which is worth up to 356 points (counting two triple-word scores, a double-letter, and a bingo bonus). However, you have to use two blanks for the Zs.
    • Although "quizzify" is a real word, it's not recognized by all Scrabble dictionaries. Assuming it is, though, it could be worth up to 419 points.
  • 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.
  • 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 two Y tiles in English Scrabble sets (which is still one more than the French set has). This is why English-language Scrabble bans foreign words unless they've been adopted into English and can be used in sentences without reference to the foreign culture. Were this rule not in place, a competitor could easily play the romanized rendering of a word from the Hmong Daw language of a minority group in Vietnam (which contains words with all consonant sounds, and pretty obscure ones too), and it would count.
  • There are a variety of alternate rule sets for Scrabble that encourage making up words. Non-tournament players sometimes allow a clearly made-up word if funny enough and in one variant, 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.
  • Jacqueline Lott, a prominent member of the Interactive Fiction community, has an amusing story about a Scrabble game in which she drew the dreaded Q in her final batch of tiles and her friends were kind (and drunk) enough to let her play "isqui". It has since then become a Running Gag to refer to her "isquiesqueness" in the Interactive Fiction corners she frequents.
  • Since online Scrabble-alikes such as Words With Friends run on the honour system— neither player can be sure that the other isn't using one of any number of web sites that will generate a high-scoring Scrabble word for a given combination of letters— matches between unscrupulous players tend to devolve into this, with both players tossing out technically cromulent but ridiculously obscure and arcane words. The strategy becomes more about blocking your opponent's access to bonus tiles than leveraging a good vocabulary.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Kwyjibo



The Comp-U-Comp supercomputer manages to make Wipqozn an actual word in order to win at Scrabble against Dilbert.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / ScrabbleBabble

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