From time to time you may find your rack contains rather a lot of consonants, and you may need to play a few of them off to keep a balanced rack. This is relatively straightforward if you have a 'Y' on the rack (hint : that's the next quiz). But what if you have no Y ?


So what are the three letter words containing no vowels or Y ? Answers below. (A small hint, two of them require a blank).














































The letter X is commonly used in the middle or end of a word, but how many 2, 3, 4 and 5 letter words do you know that start with 'X' ?


Here are the answers...






















2s : XI   XU

3s : XED XIS   (note no XUS !!!)








Over the last few articles we have shown different methods for learning new words, but probably the method most people use is to learn from others.




Most Scrabble games contain at least one or two challenges. Use these words as the building blocks for learning new words. Last night for instance the words GOOG and SCORIAE were challenged.


GOOG is clearly a back hook for GOO, but what are the others ?


Does SCORIAE anagram to anything else ? What if the C was substituted for a blank – what bonuses can be made ?




It is important to remember that everyone comes with their own history of words.


A gardener would know SEQUOIA, but may not know the medical ILIA. Neither may know a statistician’s word, MEDIANS.



So if these words are challenged.. what associated lists can we make ?



SEQUOIA contains all 5 vowels. Are there any other 7 letter words that do this ?


ILIA contains three vowels including two Is. Are there others ? Are there any useful hooks to ILIA ?


MEDIANS has several anagrams, and contains the letters SANDIE. This is a relatively useful six letter stem, as you can make 38 words if you had SANDIE + a blank.




Reading books and listening/watching radio/TV are useful source of words. If a novel is set in a foreign country, it is likely that indigenous words are used. Think of the song “Waltzing Matilda” and SWAGMAN and BILLABONG immediately spring to mind.


Word learning may sometimes seem to be a random process:  learning words by accident as they played against you.

Sometimes words can be learnt by rote, or by using mnemonics, stories or word families.



Find the method which works best for you… and enjoy your learning!

An often under-rated method of learning new words is that of ‘word families’.


Here a base word is chosen and then explored in detail. In Allan Simmons “Scrabble Trainer” he explores several 2 letter words. To show the principle, here is a ‘word family’ for the three letter OCH.




To the left of the picture we see all the four letter words that end in -OCH, to the right we see the 4 letter words (in this case one), that start OCH-.


These four letter words are then expanded into 5 letter words by front and back hooking. The diagram has been structured so that either the top line/furthest left line is a front hook, and the bottom/more right is a back hook. If no words exist then the line terminates with a dot.


So we can learn quite quickly the 4 front hooks to OCH, and the 7 hooks to those four letter words. We can see that OCH cannot be pluralised, but it has one back hook, which forms the basis for 4 five letter words.


The word family could also include anagrams and if it did we would learn :



Anagrams to CHOC


Anagrams to MACHO


Anagrams to CHIMO and OHMIC


Anagrams to ECHO


Anagrams to CHORE and OCHRE


Anagrams to CHOSE and ECHOS




There are no hard and fast rules to creating a ‘word family’, it is just a means of collecting together similar words. Another family might be to take a 7 letter word, remove each letter in turn and substitute it with a blank and see what other bonuses are ‘close by’ in the family.


Here we see the word GROCKLE.




There are seven lines coming out, one for each of the removed letters. We can see GROCKLE without an E, but with a  blank makes nothing, and that GROCKLE without a G but with a blank is the most productive member of this family.


Next time you challenge a word, why not make a family yourself ?


In our previous article we looked at mnemonics – and for hooks they are useful. Mnemonics for longer words can only indicate that a word may be formed, but not what the word is. For example you might remember that SNORTED + E makes a word, but what is it ? Is it RESTONED, ERODENTS, DETONERS or all 3 ?




This is where pictures or stories are useful to remember a set of bonuses.

The set may only contain 2 words e.g you might find a RUFFIAN at a FUNFAIR.



You may not even know the true meanings of words, providing you can find a good hook.


Take the word CORTINA. Few people will know that it is a mushroom membrane. But many people will remember it as a make of car.


A fair few people will know CAROTIN is the pigment in carrots making them orange.


But, breaking the word CAROTIN into “CAR (made) O(f) TIN” or CAR OTIN might be a useful way to find its anagram CORTINA.



Take the set of letters A E I L N R T. Do you know all the anagrams ? Maybe this story will help.


Imagine a really large tree. Nailed to the tree is a Robin RELIANT. The nail in the tree is called a TRENAIL.  The hole that the nail has made is eye-shaped (RETINAL). You peer through the hole and see a line of rats, RATLINE, heading for a LATRINE. You follow. In the latrine are ENTRAILs.  




The problem with stories is that new words may be added to the dictionary, which mean the story has to change.


A SENATOR could commit TREASON – but then atone for his sins and join with ATONERS. But the new word SANTERO doesn’t quite fit.. Maybe that’s the name of the Senator!




A TSARINA might have used the services of an ARTISAN craftsman. But where does ANTIARS fit into the story ?




Why not try and make a story with the four words EOLITHS, HOLIEST, HOSTILE and LITHOES. Remember it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what EOLITHS are..but does EOLITHS remind you of another word ?




The more memorable the picture the more it is likely to stick in the mind. The letters A E I G L N T make 5 words (one a bit too rude to describe the picture here). So look the words up, and make your own (probably rude) picture.


Next time we will look at word patterns.