You Should Know the Words You Play

We believe that you shouldn't be able to play a word unless you can define it. You don't have to be able to give a precise "dictionary" definition, but you should be able to give a synonym or define it loosely: qat is a shrub whose leaves are chewed; mho is some sort of electrical measurement; prolix means something like wordy: adzuki is a plant with edible seed. You don't have to "define" every word you play, but if your opponent challenges, you should be able to define a word before you prove that it's in the dictionary.

We find it perverse that some word-game players memorize word lists without knowing what most of the words mean. The games cease to be "word" games and become "pattern" games; words are used but memorized patterns of numbers or symbols could be used just as well. Human players reduce themselves to the level of computer players: they don't understand the meanings of the words they play and they don't care. They simply know that particular strings of symbols are acceptable "words."

boy and girl reading

If you don't know what a word means then you should have to look it up before playing it. Let's say you use the Search page and one of the words in the list that matches your search pattern is djinn -- a word you have never seen before. You look up the definition and learn that it is a kind of spirit, a genie, and there are several ways to spell it. Now you play the word knowing what it means. That has to be more satisfying than playing the word because it is in a list of J-words you memorized.

You can keep an electronic dictionary/thesaurus such as WordWeb open in a window and switch to it to look up words.