Going down a Scrabbit hole

I used to consume Scrabble like some people consume meth. It was really the only game that ever held my attention, other than chess. I played every day. I seldom ended a two person game with fewer than 400 points. A bad game was one with no bingos. I played so much and so often, online and off, that I eventually had to just give it up cold turkey, as I’d done years before playing chess. I got so deep into it, I’d play first thing in the morning on waking up, like a smoker with that cigarette. The headspace was somewhere between addiction and OCD, which are really related, I suppose, in terms of control. Anyway, here’s an article delving into how the rules should be applied. … … … … No, it’s YOUR leg that’s shaking under the table.

Can you play the word FART in Scrabble? The short answer calls on the old adage: your house, your rules. The long answer, investigating the question of exactly which words are valid, is much more interesting. Like language itself, Scrabble’s list of playable words is living and evolving, even branching into new subspecies if you extend that metaphor. Attempts to make hard rules about what’s allowed reveal myriad edge cases, inconsistencies, and contradictions. Of course, the real question isn’t about FART at all, but more offensive words. Ultimately, the history of the Scrabble dictionary and its most controversial entries is both twisty and still unfolding.

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