Whether you consider winning at Scrabble a case of extreme luck or supreme spelling ability, here are 11 words that—if conditions are right—will help you trump any opponent.
Definition: An anti-inflammatory medication used to treat arthritis and bursitis.
Conditions: Potentially the highest-possible scoring word under American Scrabble play, as calculated by Dan Stock of Ohio, oxyphenbutazone has never actually been played … and probably never will be (unless you’re really, really lucky). That’s because it has to be played across three triple word score squares and built on eight already-played (and perfectly positioned) tiles, along with precise words going the other direction (for instance, if pacifying gets the o in front and becomes opacifying; rainwashing gets the b and becomes brainwashing).
Definition: To quiz or question.
Conditions: Not only will you need to draw the game’s only q and z tiles (there’s only one of each), but a blank tile, too (in place of the second z). Play this verb as your first word across two triple word squares with the z on a double letter score square and you’ve got the game’s most valuable eight-letter bingo. But be careful—while it’s accepted in most of the world, quizzify is not in the North American word list (but the potentially 401-point quinzhee is).
Definition: An anti-anxiety drug.
Conditions: All that stress will melt away if you can build on one existing letter, play across two triple word score squares, place the z on a double letter score square, and net a 50-point bingo.
Definition: The national bird of Guatemala as well as its principal monetary unit.
Conditions: Placement is everything to score this whopper of a word: Building on one letter, use all seven letters on your rack for a 50-point bingo, with q and s on triple word score squares and z on a double letter score space.
Definition: A romantic or quixotic idea or action.
Conditions: In 2006, Michael Cresta used an already-played r and all seven of his tiles across two triple word score squares to earn the North American record for most points ever on a single turn, which aided in a second North American record for the full-time carpenter: the highest-ever individual game score (830 points).
Definition: A pancake.
Conditions: Placement is a big one for this play, too. If you can manage use all your letters to create flapjack and ensure it hits two triple word score squares with the j on a double, you’ll get bingo points and a high score.
Definition: A small pickle, made from an immature cucumber.
Conditions: In 1985, Robert Kahn paid tribute to the pickle at the National Scrabble Championship in Boston—using an E and R already on the board—to set a then-record for a non-bingo word score.
Definition: Resembling quartz.
Conditions: If you’re not in North America (where it’s not accepted), you can play quartzy across a triple word score square with z as a double letter score, and get a 50-point bingo for using all seven letters on your rack.
Definition: A Russian peasant.
Conditions: On its own (with no bonuses or extra points), muzjiks is worth an impressive 29 points. But exhaust all of your tiles on your first turn to spell it, and you’ll earn more than four times that—which is what player Jesse Inman did at the National Scrabble Championships in Orlando in 2008 to earn the record for highest opening score at 126. But he had to use the blank tile for the u. If he’d had an actual u, he’d have gotten what is theoretically the highest opening score possible.
Definition: An alignment of three celestial bodies in a system.
Conditions: Forget trying to pronounce it (though, for the record, it’s “SIZ-i-jee”). Instead, just remember how to spell it—and that it’s worth 21 points au naturel. You’ll need one blank tile to make up for the lack of ys (there are only two in the game). For a higher total, land the z on a double letter score square and the final y on a triple word score square.
Definition: Slang term for pizza.
Conditions: Big words are great and all, but two-letter words can also score big—and be especially annoying to your opponent. Build on two as—one directly below, the other directly to the right of a triple letter square—to spell this two-letter delectable across and down.
A version of this story ran in 2017; it has been updated for 2023.
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