How to Win at Scrabble: Words You Need to Know

Scrabble letters
If there’s one thing most word nerds love, it’s a good game of Scrabble (or Words With Friends, for the more tech-addicted among us). Of course, having a good vocabulary isn’t everything if you want to win Scrabble games: Strategy plays a big part, too, whether it’s finding the perfect place on the board to play a word or making sure that you cut off scoring opportunities for your opponent. But knowing a lot of words is certainly helpful, especially when it comes to dealing with a difficult rack of letters, maximizing the number of words you can get points for in one turn, or spotting and playing that elusive “bingo,” a seven- or eight-letter word that earns a 50-point bonus. Learn the words on this Scrabble cheat sheet and you’ll raise your odds of victory.

Scrabble Words With Only Vowels

EIEIO might be fine for Old MacDonald, but it’s not so great to be faced with a string of vowels when you’re playing Scrabble or Words With Friends. Help yourself out of a jam with these words:

  • Aa: A type of lava
  • Ae: One (Scottish dialect)
  • Ai: A type of sloth
  • Eau: Water
  • Oe: A Faroe Islands whirlwind
  • Oi: An interjection

Words That Don’t Contain Any Vowels

Sometimes, you have the opposite problem: Somehow, you don’t have a single A, E, I, O, U, or even Y on your rack. Thankfully, W can stand in sometimes, if it’s a word of Welsh origin, and oddly enough, there are quite a few bits of onomatopoeia that are legal Scrabble words. Here are a some vowel-less options:

  • Brr/Brrr: An indication of being cold
  • Crwth: A stringed instrument
  • Cwm: A rounded valley
  • Hm/Hmm: A sound made by someone thinking
  • Mm: A sound of agreement
  • Nth: Relating to an infinitely large number
  • Pht/Phpht: An expression of annoyance
  • Pfft: An expression of sarcastic disbelief or of a sudden ending
  • Pst/Psst: An utterance to get someone’s attention
  • Sh/Shh: A request for silence
  • Tsk/Tsktsk: To express disapproval
  • Zzz: The sound of snoring
Words With Friends

A, E, I, O, and U can make you cry out, “Why???”
Photo by Listener42 (Flickr)

Scrabble Words With Q But No U

It’s so frustrating to have a 10-point Q sitting on your rack when you have no U to work with. After all, most of the time, Q needs a U. But there are a few exceptions you might want to memorize:

  • Faqir: A Muslim ascetic
  • Niqab/Niqaab: A veil worn by Muslim women
  • Qabala: A system of Jewish mysticism
  • Qaid: A Muslim leader
  • Qajaq: Kayak
  • Qanat: A network of underground tunnels
  • Qat: A plant with leaves that have a stimulant effect if chewed or steeped into tea
  • Qi: Life force
  • Qigong: A Chinese meditative art
  • Qindar/Qintar/Qindarka: A unit of Albanian currency
  • Qoph: A letter of the Hebrew alphabet
  • Qwerty: A type of computer keyboard
  • Sheqel: A unit of Israeli currency
  • Tranq: Tranquilizer

Uncommon Scrabble Words With Z or X

Sure, there’s “zoo” or “ax,” but after that, people often start to run out of ideas quickly, especially when the pressure’s on to make a move and not hold up the game. Here are some other words to use up these tricky letters that you probably hadn’t thought of:

Z Words
X Words
Adz: A wood-cutting tool Banjax: To ruin
Adzuki/Azuki: An Asian bean Bombyx: A type of moth
Azo: Containing nitrogen Braxy: An infection found in sheep
Azole: A class of chemical compound Calx: A type of mineral residue
Azure: Blue Cylix/Kylix: A Greek cup
Baize: Woolen cloth Exeunt: Exit the stage
Bazoo: Mouth Exodos: A dramatic conclusion
Beezer: Nose Exon: A part of a gene
Buzuki/Bouzouki: A Greek musical instrument Galax: A species of herb
Cuz: Cousin Ibex: A species of wild goat
Czar: An emperor Ixia: A type of flowering plant
Diazo: A coloring process Kex: A dried, hollow stalk
Feaze/Feeze: Excitement or alarm Klaxon: A warning horn
Fritz: Not functional Lexeme: A unit of linguistic meaning
Furzy: Like a furze, a type of shrub Moxa: The leaves of an Asian mugwort plant
Fuzee: A pulley in a timepiece Nixie: A water sprite
Orzo: A rice-shaped pasta Noyaux: A type of liqueur
Oyez: A cry used to open a court session Oryx: A species of antelope
Yutz: A foolish or inept person Pyx: A container for Catholic communion wafers
Yuzu: A citrus fruit Twixt: Between
Za: Pizza (really) Vernix: The substance that covers a newborn baby
Zarf: A holder for a handle-less coffee cup Xebec: A Mediterranean sailing ship
Zax: A slate-cutting tool (Z and X!) Xi: A letter of the Greek alphabet
Zed: The letter Z Xu: A unit of Vietnamese currency
Zek: A Soviet inmate Xyst: An athletic training area in ancient Greece

The “Holy Grail” You’ll Never Get to Play

Here’s a fun fact: The highest-scoring Scrabble word you could possibly ever play is “oxyphenbutazone.” However, there’s almost no chance that you’ll ever be able to use this information to get the highest possible score in a single turn, as you’d have to be able to play it across three triple-word scores and have eight of the letters already on the board in the perfect positions to build this word around. Ideally, you’d also be playing letters on those squares and playing the P and Z on the two double-letter score squares in that row or column. For the maximum possible score, there are also specific words that you’d have to be able to place all of your letters before, creating seven new words (I told you this was impossible). But if you manage to perfectly pull off this absurdly improbable move, it’s worth 1,778 points.

Mindy Young, an editor for Online Writing Jobs, got her start as a newspaper copy editor after earning her B.A. from Russell Sage College in Troy, NY. She spent nearly 13 years editing stories, writing headlines, and putting together pages for daily newspapers, and along the way, she also had the opportunity to write food columns and restaurant reviews. After earning a pair of Associated Press awards and a Suburban Newspaper Association award, she left journalism for the world of content marketing, where she puts her skills to work every day for OWJ clients and writers.

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