News: SCRABBLE Now Allows Proper Nouns

SCRABBLE Now Allows Proper Nouns

If you've read my blog "How Controversy Changed SCRABBLE", then you know that the word JEW is not allowed in regular play, because it was deemed an offensive and obscene word.

JEW v JEWED, JEWING, JEWS to bargain with—an offensive term

But this coming July, it will no longer be banned from SCRABBLE play, because Mattel is changing the way we play SCRABBLE—forever.  Now, JEW will look something like this:

JEW n JEWS an adherent of Judaism as a religion or culture

Since the invention of SCRABBLE by US architect Alfred Butts in 1948, the rules have pretty much stayed the same, with the exception of Judith Grad's push for censorship.  But now Mattel is changing the rules to encourage younger people to play, now allowing proper nouns on the board.

But don't worry America—at least not yet—there has been no official word as to whether Hasbro, who controls the game rights in the U.S., will release a similar version.

SCRABBLE Now Allows Proper Nouns

A Mattel spokesperson told the NY Daily News, "We are launching a new edition of Scrabble in the UK later this year which builds on the rules of the classic game to introduce a new dimension to the play format."

"One of the new twists being introduced does include an opportunity for players to play a proper noun."

Now, players will be able to score big with places, people, company, and brand names.  Names like MICROSOFT, SHAKIRA, SHAQ, PEPSI, XERXES, KYRGYZSTAN, JESUS, and ZIMBABWE will now create huge scoring advantages.

But where does it stop, and who decides the rules of proper nouns?  Will such proper nouns as YouTube, iPhone, Jay-Z, and Beyoncé be allowed?

SCRABBLE Now Allows Proper Nouns

Another spokesperson told BBC News, "This is one of a number of twists and challenges included that we believe existing fans will enjoy and will also enable younger fans and families to get involved."

Mattel is considering allowing players to spell words upwards on the board, along with the possibility of words not having to stay connected.

But don't fret.  This does not mean an end to SCRABBLE as we know it.

"People who are already fans will enjoy the changes but we will still be selling a board with the original rules."

This new way of play is based off the youth pop culture of today, where it's all about what celebs are doing and not about what you are doing.  Today's youth is all about following trends and knowing who's hip, and being able to incorporate that into SCRABBLE to make more money is worth pissing of die-hard SCRABBLE players.

But these rules will never see the light of day in the National Scrabble Association (NSA), or any tournament or club play.  It would make the game undemanding and unchallenging, not to mention ridiculously ambiguous—with the endless amount of proper nouns available, which ones are allowed and which ones aren't?

Does this mean another SCRABBLE Dictionary is in the works?  Aside from the Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary (OSPD) and Official Tournament and Club Word List (OWL), will there be an Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary: Debauched Edition (OSPDDE)?

I, for one, will NOT welcome this new SCRABBLE game.  It's like slapping Jesus in a commercial for Trojan Condoms—it's sacrilegious.

Sources:,, NY Daily News, BBC News

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UPDATE: As stated, this is a new game, not a replacement for the original, but the new one will be called Trickster apparently and also could include cards. This is just one of the many Scrabble spin-offs Hasbro and Mattel are creating, which begs the question: should they? Are they stupefying Scrabble? Or just trying to attract more people that will hopefully play Scrabble the way it was meant to be? Or are they just trying to make more money (understandably)?

Zimbabwe would be fun to play. Not Jay-Z.

everyone may be focusing on the celebs and brand names, but the majority of proper nouns are neither. surely there's something to be said for being able to play HAMLET or APHRODITE when the opportunity arises? This seems to me like only an improvement. Anyway, whether or not the rules allow for proper nouns, the ambiguity of what counts as one is still problematic. plus, permitting them gives a fighting chance to the people who haven't bothered memorizing allthe obscure short high-scoring words.

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