Tyler Vendetti
April 13, 2015 10:35 am

In 1938, Alfred Butts conceptualized a game that would give bibliophiles the chance to flaunt their extensive vocabularies. Originally called Criss-Crosswords, the game was rejected by every manufacturer he pitched it to. It wasn’t until the president of Macy’s played the game on vacation and fell in love (with the game, to be clear…his romantic life had little influence on his decision, as far as I know) that the game became a hit, showing up on the shelves of Macy’s stores everywhere with a curious new title: Scrabble. Why am I telling you this? Because April 13th is National Scrabble Day and I couldn’t just let it pass by without celebrating its magnificent history. To help get everyone in the spirit of NSD, I’ve compiled a list of words that can help you finally crush your grandmother. (In Scrabble, not in real life. No grandmas were hurt in the writing of this post.)

1) Zaxes (n.): a hatchet-like tool for cutting and punching nail holes in roofing slate

Zaxes, which sounds like either a terrifying new form of taxes or a creative baby name, is actually just a construction tool used to punch holes in buildings. It can be especially useful for anyone with a “z” tile that has run out of ideas for z-words. No longer will you have to frantically ask yourself and your opponents questions like “Are ‘zoo’ and ‘zany’ the only z-words in existence??” or “Is ‘zzzz’ a word?? ARE YOU SURE?”

2) Madzoon (n.): fermented milk product similar to yogurt

When one of your friends sneakily plays the word “zoo” next to a coveted triple-word-score tile, thinking they’ve effectively blocked you from snagging those points, you can make an epic comeback with this word. Madzoon is a type of bitter yogurt often used in places like Armenia.

3) Banjax (v.): to defeat utterly, clobber

Ireland has given us a number of wonderful things: beautiful landscapes, leprechauns, Ewan McGregor. It also gave us the word “banjax” meaning “to beat or destroy.” The popular radio and TV broadcaster Terry Wogan popularized this word during the 1970s in his programs (or should I say, programmes). The term has yet to become popular in the US but that can easily be changed. After all, the new Mortal Kombat is coming out soon and wouldn’t it be more fun to play if at the end of the game, the announcer screamed “BANJAX HIM” instead of “FINISH HIM”?

4) Unmixt (v.): to combine into one mass, collection, or assemblage

I know what it looks like but this is not a typo. Just like “unputdownable,” unmixt is one of those words that looks fake but isn’t. It looks a little contradictory though, doesn’t it? “Unmixt” which looks like “unmixed” actually means “to combine”? I don’t know whose job it was to define this word but I think they need a little more practice.

5) Muzjiks (n.): Russian peasants

According to some, “muzjiks” is the best word choice for a player’s first turn. With a “j,” “z,” “k” and “m,” placed together over a double word choice tile, an angry outburst from your opponent along the lines “Are you serious right now??” is almost guaranteed.

6) Qanats (n.): a sloping underground tunnel for irrigation purposes

One of my biggest Scrabble struggles is trying to utilize my “q” tile when there isn’t a “u” available. Queen. Quiz. Quip. Quota. Queue. Quack. Almost every word that comes to mind involves a “qu” combination. I’m specifically including the word “qanats” on this list in an attempt to solve this dilemma for other Scrabble players.

7) Aeneus (adj.): brassy or golden green in color

Aeneus does look awfully similar to Aeneas, the Trojan hero that anyone who took Latin or Mythology in school is probably tired of hearing, but I can assure you, the word has nothing to do with epic battles or dramatic love stories. (To be sure, there is a Greek god by this name, but he didn’t do anything nearly as interesting.) The adjective “aeneus” refers to the brassy or greenish color that you might see on tarantulas or sand snakes.

8) Xi (n.): fourteenth letter of the Greek alphabet

Xi may be the most valuable word on this list, not for the number of points it may get you but for how helpful it may be at the end of the game when every corner of the board is crammed with tiles.

9) Jiver (n.): one that jives

This one’s not a joke, I promise. Jiver really does mean “one who jives,” which makes me wonder whether or not all dance types have a matching term. Are tap dancers “tappers”? What about scat enthusiasts? “Scatters”? Salsa dancers AKA salsa-ers? I don’t know anything anymore.

10) Klaxon (n.): a loud electric horn (formerly used on cars, trucks, etc.)

What sounds like a planet plucked straight out of an episode of Star Trek is actually just a fancy word for an old horn. Your opponents might question your vocabulary but after showing them klaxton’s entry in the official Scrabble dictionary, you can feel free to enjoy the high score that the “k” and the “x” will inevitably bring you.

Featured image via FOX.

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