Is Profanity Legal in Scrabble?

couchEvery writer plays Scrabble at least once in their life, right?  Form a seven letter word, score 50 pts, use your Q without a U, challenge your opponents version of “EUOUAE” (a consonant-less word that’s legal? Yep!) clink teacups, and call it a fun night, right?

That’s all well and good when it’s a friendly game around your kitchen table with family.  But playing with a competitive stranger online from God know’s where, who also cheats? Well that’s quite another story!

It all started when my children coaxed me to download the App, “Words With Friends” on my cellphone.  What a neighborly sounding game it was! A few clicks and voilà! (I always wanted to work “voilà” into a post!) suddenly it was just as I remembered from my own childhood– except you could take all day to make one word and nobody minded.

That was rather nice – – mulling over the letters whilst mopping the dining room floor or leisurely contemplating a compound word as you auto-shuffled the letters “sexycat” around, searching for something better during a gynecologist appointment.

And you could even send gracious messages back-and-forth like “awesome word!” or “you got me there!” No rush, no muss, just clean, polite, old-fashioned fun.

Until none of my children would play with me anymore. Or my ex-husband, my cousins, my neighbor, my babysitter, my accountant, my Rabbi, my boyfriend, and not even my Tupperware Lady.  Right, like she was just soooooo busy – – when’s the last time you were invited to a party that featured burping plastic containers?
Poor sports and sour grapes, every last one of them, just because I clobbered them all! One by one, I went through my Facebook victims, err contacts, systematically challenging familiar names to a friendly game until they all dropped off in defeat.

Then it happened. The invitation from “1OldTortoise” appeared–I took one look at his innocuous name and eagerly clicked “Accept.” Easy pray.

But who was he?

His first word utilized all his letters — “ratines.” A noun meaning “heavy, loosely woven fabric,” my eye! Looking back, that’s when I shoulda smelled a rat.

But I gave him the benefit of the doubt and made a few of my own 7-letter words. First “coupons” followed by “toenails” playing off his ‘S.’ Ha! Let him dispute that toenails wasn’t all one word. Then a message came across in that cute little thought bubble–“I was just clipping mine.”

Okay, ewww! And seriously? I needed to know an Aging Reptile’s grooming habits? I don’t think so. Also I was immediately reminded of the Aesop’s fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare” because the sudden alacrity in which he sent his words across was astonishing. He beat me three times in a row just that one morning.

Gone were the relaxing days allowing me to pause and brainstorm for an hour. If I hesitated to respond in twenty minutes, a message would appear with an impatient ding, prompting, “1OldTortoise is waiting. Make your move!”
Really? Well he can just pull his wrinkly head back inside that cracked shell of his and sit tight. What business did he have rushing me like that? It’s just a form of recreation, after all. Besides it’s humiliating getting beaten in a game of wits and skill by someone like this. He was quickly turning “Words With Friends” into “Language With Enemies!”

And worse yet, I had the distinct impression that he was using a dictionary. His words were just too obscure. Nobody has a vocabulary like that. And once I lost by 200 points because my 8-year old “borrowed” my cell phone for twenty minutes. Still, it was infuriating.

And if he wasn’t using a dictionary, then he had some other devious way of drawing all the best letters for his own rack while leaving me with nothing but “ffhzxns.” Whatever that was, I so yearned to pluralize it!

Then one day it happened. I actually beat him! But as I rejoiced, a thought bubble popped up all aglow. “Congratulations,” it proclaimed. “You managed to beat my young grandson who happened to be playing with my phone!”

Oh that was rich, really rich. What was this? He’s trying to diminish my joy. Make me feel foolish because I celebrated out-spelling a small child. One who probably called himself, “1Tinyturtle.”

The guy was so slippery, he may as well have been a snake. And persistent as all hell. Hell in a tortoise shell! The moment he won, like lightning, another invitation flashed across the screen–“Accept a new game with 1OldTortoise?”  I had no choice. If I clicked “decline,” I knew on his end it looked as if I resigned. I wouldn’t give him that satisfaction. I played with a 102 degree fever, in the middle of movies, while studying for an exam, and even as I wept because our cockatiel died.

Finally I developed that “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” attitude. I downloaded another app called I am not proud of this behavior. But the tortoise was going down… I was determined.

Now I couldn’t sleep because of my obsession with winning. When I did manage to grab a little shut eye, I dreamt of glass enclosures at the zoo, housing 200 year-old (did they live that long?) terrapins. (Small edible turtles!) Or I would awaken shouting out, “QWERTY!”

The whole situation became truly absurd — he was cheating, I was cheating–it was as if there were two computers playing against each other. A tech war.

One night my mother came over for dinner and as we prepared the brisket and mashed potatoes together, I showed her the current “Words With Friends” game board in-progress on my cellphone.

“Ma,” I implored. “You were a high school English teacher, what intelligent word can you make with these letters?” She fished out her reading glasses and furrowed her brows. “Oh you’ve got a worthy opponent here,” she said. “But use your Y and make “gravy.”

Bingo! With her help, I felt confident I would finally make turtle wax outa him. And that’s when I heard it. The familiar ding, and then the thought bubble with a message inside.

“Gravy! Clever word you made. Now make some for your brisket. It’s always dry.”

As I peeked into the living room, I saw my mom typing into her own cellphone, beaming while nudging her glasses back up on her nose… Her old tortoise shell glasses.

“1TinyTurtle” was probably my own 8-year old little boy that she occasionally babysits. And my mom actually clips her coupons (not her toenails!) while playing me in “Word With Friends.” Good to know!


This is my 100th post since Jan 1st 2014! I’d be thrilled if you’d leave me a comment to celebrate as well as introduce yourself–if you haven’t already?  And please visit me on The Huffington Post to laugh some more…. Click HERE

102 thoughts on “Is Profanity Legal in Scrabble?

  1. Pingback: Quack, Quack! – Garden Joys and Woes

  2. Pingback: Lessons I Learned From Playing the Board Game “CLUE!” | Once Upon Your Prime

  3. 100 posts!!!???? No Way!!! I had to leave a comment, in hopes that I could help build you up to 100 comments on this post, now that you passed 100 Likes.

    Here’s to 100 more posts here from you. May you enjoy writing every one of them as much as we all enjoy reading them.


  4. That was a great read! Congratulations on your post total! I have to admit, it gets pretty crazy in my family when it comes to Scrabble. We have to have 15 minutes of rule deliberation, as well as, what will be the deciding authority should a word be challenged. I am forwarding this to my family now!


  5. Ha! I didn’t see that coming. I am actually rubbish at scrabble, which surprises people – as you said, most writers like word games. But I honestly suck at it. I couldn’t even beat your 8 year old son I bet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I used to not like the pressure of being timed but Words With Friends is supposed to be leisurely (unless played with compulsive people!) so you might want to give it a try? Thanks so much for reading and commenting!!
      take care,


      • It’s not the time, I just look at those tiles and my brain just goes blank. I struggle to think up even four letter words. It’s the same with those games where you’re given a long word and have to try and make as many other words out of it as possible.


  6. Just discovered your blog today so belated 100th post! I relate to your theme due to already having a mood spectrum disorder before hitting 50; I can’t wait to see what the future holds–woo hoo! 🙂 This post is right up my ally as I always feel a little weird using words of an unsavory nature in usually futile attempts to beat my brother-in-law on WWF (it’s only happened once, and I’m pretty sure it’s because he was off his game due to a death in the family). Your honesty and hilarity will keep me coming back for more!


  7. Loved your post. I’ve played online Scrabble a bit and prefer to play with strangers to prevent embarrassment. It is also very addictive. I am currently in time out.


    • Uh oh! You put yourself in Time-Out? Sounds like someone was VERY into it. 😉 Playing with strangers has been interesting for me. And you do have to have faith in your fellow mankind not to cheat! 😉
      take care and thanks so much for commenting,


    • Thanks so much, You! Still I must confess that this was 75% fictionalized. There was a “Scrabble Stalker” named 1OldTurtle though! But the twist ending with my mother came out of nowhere. I love when posts write themselves. And now (as Adam hilariously pointed out,) I want to apologize for accidentally calling you “The Underdog Writer.” At the very least (if I had a senile moment) I should have referred to you as “TheUnderBlog Writer.” But make no mistake you’re no underdog…. You are The Top Dog! 😉


  8. Hello! I’ve barely had any WordPress time with school this semester, but I’ve been missing these posts & had to stop by.
    Man, I wish you had your own 90s sitcom – I would watch the heck out of that. Phrases like “I yearned to pluralize it!” are things I feel were written for people like me. Lolol. I hope your mother brings a tortoise to thanksgiving dinner next week.
    And of course, congrats on your 100th post! Only a bajillion more to go. 🙂


  9. Congrats on #100 Little Miss 🙂
    I could have warned you about Words with Friends. It becomes an addiction. Every loss needs to be vindicated. Every win needs to be repeated. Run, run away!


  10. WhooO! 100! Congratulations! Haha that’s awesome and hilarious! My brother knows never to play Scrabble with me… nothing but profanity between the two of us in a scrabble game… or any game really. 😛


  11. Another dose of clever. As I was driving through the city, I felt like I was driving through a qanat at one point. You have lovely Qi however, I am not sure mnemonics are valid in scrabble. Although, the tortoise was a good twist in a very funny plot.


  12. Okay- this is uber funny- and as usual, I can’t tell if it’s fact or fiction…. good storytelling for sure. I love scrabble. I keep trying to get my bf to play w/ me but we are both writers and he’s convinced we won’t survive it because we have a tendency to disagree over the existence of certain words. Congrats on 100 posts this year alone. Wow… I am about 3 years away from even hitting that mark it total. Sounds like your writing is really taking off w/ nominations, guest posts, Huffington, and so on.


      • OK then, let’s see if I still have it. I must confess that “voilà” made me take note, because I have a word document on file with special words that require accents. So, yeah.

        Voilà. That or burping Tupperware. My god, remember Tupperware??


  13. Well thanks for making me the heroin of your blog today!! And Nida’s comment is right on ……You do have a cool mom. Oh yes and your brisket is never dry. Congratulations on your 100th blog. You write em faster than I can read em.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Profanity in Scrabble isn’t legal, but sneaky mum! 😀

    Okay, I’m girlnextdoor, look for me on the Scrabble app, and I promise to let you really win, a couple of times, before I do my “mum” moves on you! 🙂

    Congratulations on your 100th post! You’ve worked hard and put many smiles on our faces, I appreciate it. I hope you did something memorable to celebrate. Did you?


  15. Mom sounds devious… kind of woman….However, the brisket and gravy has brought me to my knees for a dinner invite….too bad we are on opposite coasts….or maybe lucky for you……damn brisket and gravy, gets me weak every time.


  16. Hahahaha, I laughed so hard I almost wet myself. This post was absolutely gripping =D I could see the OCD Stephanie resorting to all sort of evil, conniving shenanigans all with the single-minded purpose of getting the upper hand.

    Great post!! Oh and congrats on your 100th 🙂


  17. Congrats on post #100!! My mother and grandmother were both fierce Scrabble players so it’s no surprise that your mother holds the clever Scrabble gene as well. It is surprising that she’s so tech savvy!


  18. Congrats on your 100th!! Yay! This was so funny and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, lol! I’ve heard of WWF and now I know that I should just stay away from it! I have enough things I already obsess over; don’t need to add to the list of things that give me insomnia.


  19. I’m a WWF newbie and I have 3 friends that continuously whup my butt. After just the first two words I’m so far behind that I can’t catch up. I love surprise endings. This one gets at least 5 <3's. So clever too, just like you, to use scrabble points to reflect the centennial. OMG I'm analyzing. Happy 100th – a Blogennial (or would that be Centeniblog?) I'm honored to celebrate with you…write on Stephanie!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Oh wow, 100. I had better watch out. You will pass me soon with your repartee. Yes, that is a word you can use in Scrabble. It’s French for “post your posts, dammit”. And “ffhzxns” is a Klingon word meaning “I am going to kick your butt”. I must tell you that what you have been suffering from is Scrabble karma. That will teach you to beat the crap out of everybody you know.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Congratulations on the 100th. Unlike me you seem to concentrate on quality over quantity.
    Another lesson i’m learning from you. A good post. I didn’t expect the ending. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Congratulations on your 100th post. I really enjoy your blog as it always gives me a laugh! Your mum certainly got the upper hand as well as the last word with the ‘Words With Friends’ app. I chuckled at your determination to put your opponent in their place, even if it meant cheating, only to find out that you had been playing not only your mum but your 8 year old as well. Classic!


    • Thank you SOOOOO much for commenting. I feel the need (since you are new fairly here) to come fully clean. The story is derived from true bits and pieces, but the ending is absolute fiction. I tend to do that a lot with posts here. There is a person who challenges me named 1OldTurtle however!! I still dont know who he is! We are evenly matched. Thank you again I really appreciate you taking the time!!

      Liked by 1 person

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