New Yiddish words in English Scrabble

  • Scrabble
Scrabble adds “schmutz,” “schtum,” and even “tuchus,” to dictionary – but the plural, “Tuchuses,” is questionable. “Tuchutot” maybe…?
by ANT KATZ | Aug 17, 2014

There has long been a “Yiddish version”  of Scrabble – but now, the US company has added a host of American common usage words such as “schmutz,” “schtum”, and “tuchus” to its dictionary, which means that players can now embrace some of their favourite Yiddish words without fear of being challenged.

Apart from using Americanised Yiddish spellings, however, they also us Anglised plurals such as “tuchuses”, which are also acceptable. Hmmm?

There are many more new Yiddish words that have been added to Merriam-Webster’s “Official Scrabble Players’ Dictionary.”

The dictionary’s fifth edition, which was published in August 2014, includes more than 5 000 new words in total, many of which are recently coined words like “beatbox,” “hashtag”, and “chillax”.

However, “schmutz” is one of the few newcomers that are highlighted in a promotional video on Merriam-Webster’s YouTube channel.

The new additions are hardly the only playable Yiddish and Hebrew words. Even players who are still relying on the fourth edition, which was published in 2005, will find each letter in the Hebrew aleph bet, which is transliterated into English, of course, except for the word “alephbet” itself.

Meanwhile, various spellings of shadchan (matchmaker), mitzvah (commandment), aliyah (immigration to Israel), and tallis (prayer shawl) are accepted. In addition, virtually every word that starts with a “sh”, such as shlub, shlep, and even shmuck, is not only accepted, but can be spelled with or without a “c” in between.

However, one Jew-y word that cannot be played, at least not with the “Official Scrabble Players’ Dictionary” as the judge, (however, official Scrabble tournaments use a separate dictionary) is “jew.” When capitalised, it is a proper noun, which makes it off limits, and while some people use it lower case as a verb meaning “to bargain”, the lower case form is excluded from the dictionary on the grounds of having anti-Semitic usage.

 scrabble - yiddish

There are real Yiddish and Hebrew versions of the popular game as well

1 Comment

  1. 1 Evelyn Marshak 11 Dec
    I love this article. Yiddish is still alive!


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