The Scrabble Cheaters’ Dictionary
provided as a service to our readers
by Speculative Grammarian
Have you ever backed yourself into a corner, lexicographically speaking—while playing Scrabble, or chatting around the water cooler at work, or telling tall tales at the pub? The story is an unfortunate but familiar one: a linguist, polyglot, or other linguaphile finds themselves in the heady position of declaiming to the untutored masses on the subject of a particular word, only to realize that perhaps they’ve over-reached, and no such word exists. A standard fallback position in such a situation is to claim certainty that the word in question—while the details may be fuzzy—surely exists. Maybe not in every linguistic commoner’s dictionary, but assuredly somewhere in the bowels of the OED.
For decades, the general “my dictionary is bigger than your dictionary” approach was a relatively safe gambit. But with the rise of the “information superhighway” all that is changing. People not only coin neologisms like “googling”, they actually engage in such acts and consider the results, or lack thereof, to be unimpeachable.
On general philosophical grounds, the editors of Speculative Grammarian do not approve of linguistic and lexicographic grandstanding. However, failure in acts of such grandstanding are infinitely more damaging to the reputation of our already misunderstood and embattled field. It is better to be an insufferable language nerd who is also correct than to be one who happens to be wrong—even in cases where the nerd under consideration actually is wrong.
To that end, we have created The Compleat Encyclopaedia of Compendious Historical Lexicons of Obscure and Archaic Vernacular and Nomenclature. It is an infinite lexicon—unbound by the constraints of time, space, or truth. Any and every word anyone will ever desperately need to demonstrate is indeed found in the English language is present—computationally incanted from the lexicographic ether, ad hoc.
To perform this linguistic legerdemain, The Compleat Encyclopaedia first searches the available vocabularic resources of the online and ever-expanding dictionary, Wordnik, to provide an actual definition for a term of interest. If that fails, The Compleat Encyclopaedia conjures a dictionary definition of potential plausibility from spare parts.
The system is not perfect. The relationship between English spelling and pronunciation is merely comic at best, and so often profoundly tragic. Thus the provided pronunciations are usually reasonable, but can veer toward the ridiculously sublime. Providing an endless stream of even semi-plausible definitions with enough variety to fool even a casual inspector requires an immense effort. Thus all faked search results provided are for nouns. No sanity-checking is done, so if you seek a definition of bfgmkdsgfjkdsgfhsdl, you’ll get one, and whatever happens next will be your own fault.
On the positive side, though, we must note that some of our best computational linguists and several of our nearly-adequate code monkeys have dedicated a considerable amount of time and effort to this thankless, Herculean task. Of note, they have managed to make the definitions remain stable over time, meaning that if you look up a word today, it will have the same definition tomorrow (barring major software updates, or the unlikely event that the word actually becomes, Pinocchio-like, a “real” word).
- Try not to get into a situation where you need The Compleat Encyclopaedia in the first place.
- Mentally transform the word you need into a plausible noun root. Search for spooglefnord, not spooglefnords, spooglefnordian, spooglefnording or spooglefnordically unless you can really sell them as nouns. This is especially important for real words that are inflected forms, rather than citation forms!
- If your opponent/prey is not linguistically sophisticated, don’t dwell on the pronunciation or etymology (if provided)—it will only lead to more questions.
- Don’t gloat. If you have gotten away with a heinous act of violence on the delicate flower of language, absquatulate with grace.
- If the target of your deception questions the validity of the contents of The Compleat Encyclopaedia, point them at its equally perfidious introductory page.
- If you expect to regularly engage in Scrabble-related combat, you should bookmark that introductory page. Using the The Compleat Encyclopaedia on smart phones is best because the screens are smaller and harder to read.
- Under no circumstances allow your victim to explore The Compleat Encyclopaedia on their own, or the deception may be revealed.
- Whenever possible, plan your treachery ahead of time, and research what form of your fallacious word gives the results that best suit your needs.
The editors and publishers of Speculative Grammarian disclaim any and all responsibility for any consequences associated with the use of this service, which is demonstrably and explicity indicated not to be fit for any purpose. Not recommended for use in situations involving financial or romantic entanglements.