Scrabble Prohibited Words: uproar over words that can no longer be used in board games


Scrabble players are in turmoil after the popular board game banned a number of winning words seen as insults.

The world of Scrabble is in turmoil over attempts by the venerable board game owners to ban a long list of words now considered insults.

Three prominent members of the World Scrabble Players’ Organization have resigned following the removal of words from official playlists.

They complained that Scrabble is a word game so as long as the terms are listed in the dictionary they should be playable. To do otherwise would be to pretend that these words do not exist.

One of the owners of Scrabble, however, said there are no other games where players “can win by using a racial epithet”.

But an Australian activist wondered why derogatory terms for Irish people can no longer score points, but derogatory terms for Indigenous Australians can still be played.

Derogatory words dropped

The word war erupted when words started dropping from the game’s official wordlists over the past 12 months.

Invented in the United States in 1938, Scrabble is now owned by two of the largest toy manufacturers in the world. Hasbro, creator of Monopoly and My Little Pony, owns the rights to the game in North America while Mattel, which produces Barbie, owns Scrabble elsewhere, including Australia.

Gradually, the two companies began to prevent certain words from officially scoring points. The words deleted varied between the two companies.

In total, over 200 dictionary-defined terms have now disappeared.

There is no single list of prohibited terms, but online Scrabble review sites allow players to type in a word to see if it can be read.

N **** r and c ** t are no longer playable. Other terms that are no longer allowed include “Paki”, an insult against people of Pakistani descent, and “Fenian”, which is often used to demean Irish Republicans.

“Shiksha,” a derogatory term used to refer to a non-Jewish girl or a Jewish girl who does not live up to traditional Jewish standards has also disappeared.

“Words must not be deleted” in Scrabble

A number of players opposing the move have said they don’t want to highlight offensive words, but should be playable.

British author Darryl Francis has resigned from the World English-Language Scrabble Players Association (WESPA) because he said Mattel forced the changes to the game.

“Words listed in dictionaries and Scrabble lists are not insults,” Mr Francis wrote, the UK newspaper reported. The temperature.

“They only become insults when they are used for a derogatory purpose or intention, or used with a particular tone and in a particular context.

“Words from our familiar Scrabble word lists should not be removed because of a public relations goal disguised as promoting some kind of social improvement.”

Mattel has openly stated that the changes are being made due to recent global moves, such as Black Lives Matter.

“We have looked at some of the social unrest taking place around the world. I’ve heard the argument that these are just words, but we believe they make senseSaid Mattel’s global head of games The temperature.

“Can you imagine another game where you can score points and win using a racial epithet? It is long overdue.

However, many terms that would be considered offensive are still allowed in the game. This is often because a benign word has taken on a secondary definition as an insult.

“Bitch” is allowed because it can define a bitch. An “f **** t” is also a bundle of sticks. Nonetheless, “bitch” is fine to use although its meaning is apparently only offensive.

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Calling Scrabble players “to be more creative”

Indigenous activist Stephen Hagan criticized Mattel for removing some terms but leaving those that belittled Indigenous Australians.

A key player in the campaign to make Coon cheese famous, Dr Hagan stressed that ‘coon’ can still score points in Scrabble.

“Abo” and “boong” were also not added to the unplay list.

In January, he filed a complaint against Mattel with the Australian Human Rights Commission seeking to have the words removed.

“Scrabble players who oppose the changes have to adapt with the times,” he told

“This is the 21st century where multiculturalism and Black Lives Matter combine with inclusiveness.

“Instead of complaining, Scrabble players – who essentially pride themselves on being word makers – need to be more creative without needing to use slurs to score points and win games. “

WESPA voted in February, by a narrow margin, to accept Mattel’s diktat and erase the words from tournaments.

Influential UK player David Webb said: “Mattel basically pointed a gun at our heads” because the company could have stopped WESPA from using the Scrabble brand at events.

He said the company had not responded to players’ concerns about the word deletion being done at the behest of “middle-class whites.”

“His actions are seen by many as a sign of virtue, a symbolic gesture or a ‘wake-up call’. To impose American values ​​on the world is quite odious, ”he added.

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