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Dictionary Committee

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Revision as of 20:17, 13 June 2018 by Judycole (talk | contribs) (History: 2018-06-13 - Removed phrase that indicated that older version was current and fixed spacing)

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The Dictionary Committee is a NASPA committee. Its mandate is to maintain the tournament lexicon. To contact the committee, please send an email message to dictionary@scrabbleplayers.org.


The following members currently belong to the committee:

[photo of Judy Cole]
ex officio
[photo of John Chew]
acting chair
[photo of Kurt Davies]
[photo of Robert Gillis]
[photo of Bob Lipton]
[photo of Matthew Tunnicliffe (SM)]
[photo of John Bulten]
[photo of James Cherry]
[photo of Linda Iannetti]
[photo of Tina Totten King]
[photo of Paul Mulik]

The following members have served past terms on the committee:

[photo of John Bulten] John Bulten
[photo of Sally Ricketts] Sally Ricketts
[photo of Joe Edley (SM)] Joe Edley (SM)
[photo of Jim Pate] Jim Pate
[photo of Jim Pate] Jim Pate
[photo of John Chew] John Chew
[photo of Robert Gillis] Robert Gillis
[photo of Bob Lipton] Bob Lipton
Peter R Huszagh
[photo of Chris Cree (SM)] Chris Cree (SM)
ex officio
[photo of Timothy Bottorff (EX)] Timothy Bottorff (EX)
[photo of Adam Henderson] Adam Henderson
[photo of Paul Mulik] Paul Mulik
[photo of Anna Miransky] Anna Miransky
[photo of Matthew Tunnicliffe (SM)] Matthew Tunnicliffe (SM)
[photo of Chris Lipe (SM)] Chris Lipe (SM)
[photo of Chris Lipe (SM)] Chris Lipe (SM)
[photo of Chris Lipe (SM)] Chris Lipe (SM)
acting chair
[photo of Ross Brown (EX)] Ross Brown (EX)
[photo of Dallas Johnson] Dallas Johnson
ex officio
[photo of Kurt Davies] Kurt Davies
[photo of Rich Baker] Rich Baker
ex officio


The committee will have the following items on its agenda:

  1. Update the Official Tournament and Club Word List.
  2. Consider including words longer than 15 letters long, for use in SuperSCRABBLE and Anagrams
  3. Liaise with the WESPA Dictionary Committee to coordinate future updates
  4. Prepare its annual report
  5. Include long OCD and COD words that were omitted from OTCWL2014
  6. Consider deleting: LEFTMOSTS
  7. Consider including words from Webster's New World (5th edition)
  8. Consider including words from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th Edition)
  9. Consider including words from specialist dictionaries


New York chess club players adopted Funk & Wagnalls College Dictionary as the first common word reference in the 1960s, leading eventually to its adoption as the first official SCRABBLE dictionary by SCRABBLE Crossword Game Players (the predecessor of the NSA).

Around 1975, Mike Senkiewicz proposed addressing the major defects of Funk & Wagnalls (idiosyncratic vocabulary, large number of affix lists, and lack of explicit inflection) by compiling an Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary (OSPD) from five college dictionaries.

The Dictionary Committee has its unofficial roots in the team that 1978 National Champion David Prinz led to edit the first edition of the OSPD. Prinz, along with Jonathan Hatch, Kathy Flaherty and Bernie Teitelbaum, consulted with James Lowe of Merriam-Webster in compiling and defining all suitable words found in the following source lexica:

  • American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 1969
  • Funk & Wagnalls Standard College Dictionary, 1973
  • G & C. Merriam's Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 8th edition, 1973
  • Random House College Dictionary, 1968
  • Webster's New World Dictionary, 2nd College Edition, 1970 (though no words from this source only were included in the first OSPD)

OSPD was officially adopted on October 1, 1978.

During the 1980s, Joe Leonard updated the word list based on the ninth edition of Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary and the third edition of Webster's New World Dictionary. His changes took effect in 1990 with the publication of OSPD2, the second edition of the Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary.

In 1995, Merriam-Webster prepared the third edition — OSPD3 – largely in response to pressure to remove offensive words. Effective February 1st, 1996, the tournament lexicon consisted of OSPD2, plus a small number of words added in OSPD3, but retaining the deleted words.

In September 1996, the NSA officially created its Dictionary Committee and named John Chew its first chair. The committee prepared the first edition of the Official Tournament and Club Word List (OTCWL1), which corrected some errors, consisted only of a word list without definitions, and included words of nine letters (and not just the OSPD's maximum eight). It took effect as the club and tournament lexicon on March 2nd, 1998.

Jim Pate became the committee’s second chair, and over the following years the committee compiled the first North American word reference of longer words, the Long List (LL). This list extended the tournament lexicon to the longest playable words of 15 letters, and took effect on June 16, 2003, replacing Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary as the reference for longer words. The other members of the Dictionary Committee who completed the work on the Long List were: James Cherry, John Chew, Lynn Cushman, Peter Huszagh, Bob Lipton, Joey Mallick, and Loren Mitchell.

The Dictionary Committee continued working on OSPD4 and OTCWL2, which returned to earlier OSPD traditions by including newly added words from multiple source dictionaries:

  • American Heritage College Dictionary (4th edition),
  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition, 2003 printing)
  • Random House Webster’s College Dictionary (2nd revised and updated edition, 2000)
  • Webster's New World College Dictionary (4th edition)

OSPD4 was published in 2005, and OTCWL2 took effect on March 1st, 2006. The complete list of two-letter to eight-letter words added in OTCWL2 was published in the SCRABBLE News newsletter. It is not available in electronic form, for copyright and other reasons. The list of changes to OSPD4 is freely available and may be of some use to tournament players.

In 2009, the NSA Dictionary Committee was dissolved, and its members became the NASPA Dictionary Committee, carrying on their original mission.

In 2014, the NASPA Dictionary Committee prepared a major new edition of the word list, called the Official Tournament and Club Word List (2014 Edition), abbreviated variously as OWL2014, OTCWL2014 or TWL2014. For the first time, the word list included all acceptable words up to 15 letters in length, and also words from the Oxford College Dictionary (2nd edition) and the Canadian Oxford Dictionary (2nd edition).

In 2016, the DC prepared a minor update to the word list, the Official Tournament and Club Word List (2016 Edition) (OTCWL2016, etc.). This incorporated errata from the 2014 edition, and added nine-letter words and inflections from the Canadian Oxford Dictionary (2nd edition).