Scrabble is a great way to spend time with your friends and family indoors that also challenges your mind. While some families play by house rules or use any old dictionary, others adhere to the word list printed in Merriam-Webster’s “The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.” Scrabble’s official lexicon is updated every four to eight years or so to match the latest words and slang. However, these new additions often change players’ strategies for how to put down high-point words. Whether you’re looking for a two-letter powerhouse or a once-in-a-lifetime 15-letter word, here are some of the highest-scoring legal Scrabble words you can play.
In 2006, Scrabble recognized more than 3,000 new words that totally shook up the game. Two major additions were the two-letter words “qi,” the Chinese word for the vital force present in all things, and “za,” a slang term for pizza. That’s because Z and Q are the highest valued tiles at 10 points each, and before that, there were no two-letter words that included them. At 11 points, qi and za are the highest base two-letter words.
You might’ve never heard the word quixotry before, but diehard Scrabble fans have known it for almost a decade. In 2006, carpenter Michael Cresta broke the record for the highest Scrabble score ever of 830 by scoring 365 points with the 27-base-point word. It means “quixotic action or thought” and comes from the fictional character Don Quixote.
Oxyphenbutazone, the lengthy name for an anti-inflammatory drug, is theoretically the highest possible scoring word that can be formed in all of Scrabble, though it’s never been done. With a base value of 41 points, if stretched across all three triple-word-score squares while making seven crosswords downward, you could score a whopping 1,784 points.
Etaerio, which means an aggregate or cluster fruit such as a raspberry or a blackberry, is playable using the International Collins Scrabble Words list, which is different from the official lexicon used in North America. Etaerio is a great word to know because it’s a highly probable seven-letter word. That means it’s good to have this word in mind when you’re flush with vowels and looking to clear your rack with one word.
Muzjik and its plural muzjiks aren’t only the highest value six- and seven-letter words but also the highest-scoring theoretical opening word you can play. Muzjiks, which was what Russian peasants were once called, is worth 29 points. Putting the Z on the double-letter square increases the total to 39, which gets doubled to 78 since all opening words are worth two times the points. Add in the bingo bonus of 50 points for clearing your rack, and you’re sitting pretty at 128 to start the game.
If the word muzjiks eludes you, another high-scoring opening move in the Collins lexicon is “squeezy,” worth a base of 28 but a maximum of 126 points. Nowadays, squeezy usually means flexible and able to be squeezed, but it can also be used to mean cramped or confined.
Some little pickles can make a big stir on a Scrabble board. In 1985, player Robert Kahn formed the word “gherkins,” meaning small cucumbers used for pickling, using an E and R already on the board to nab 180 points and to set a then-record for a non-bingo (rack-clearing) word score at the National Scrabble Championship.
If the luck of the draw isn’t on your side, and you can’t manage to draw a Q or Z to make a two-letter word, you definitely have some options with X’s and J’s, the next-highest letter tiles at 8 points each. “Jo” is a Scottish word for sweetheart that will get you a base 9 points. For X, you could play “xu,” the name of a Vietnamese coin, the Greek letter “xi” and the more common combos “ax,” “ex” and “ox.”
A fancy way to say “to quiz or question,” quizzify is a tricky Collins lexicon word to play because you’ll need to draw both the game’s only Q and Z tiles and a blank tile to serve as the second Z. If the stars align, though, and you can play this across two triple-word squares with the Z on a double-letter-score square, you’ve scored the game’s highest-value eight-letter bingo worth 419 points.
Also a solid choice to stump folks in a round of hangman, “syzygy,” meaning an alignment of three celestial bodies, can also get you out of a tough spot and earn you 21 points. There are only two Y tiles, so you’ll need a blank to make this work, but if you line up the Z on a double-letter square, you can reach a triple-word-score square with the final Y for a 93-point word.
Not counting blanks or bonuses, the highest-scoring three-letter word in Scrabble is “zax.” Meaning a tool for trimming and puncturing roofing slates, this word has a base value of 19 points. The next-highest three-word option is “zek,” a Collins Dictionary word meaning a Soviet prisoner, which is worth 16 points.
It can feel as if you have few options when you draw a Q but can’t seem to come up with a U, but there are a handful of recognized Q words without U’s that can make a solid play. Two of the longest options, both worth 22 points, are “qindarka,” a currency unit of Albania, and “sheqalim,” an alternate plural of “sheqel” or “shekel,” an ancient unit of currency now used as the basic monetary unit of modern-day Israel.
In 2018, Scrabble added about 300 new official words, including “qapik,” which makes another strong option for playing a Q tile without a U. A monetary unit in Azerbaijan, qapik is worth a base score of 20.
Another fairly new entry to Scrabble’s official lexicon, “yowza” joined “qapik” as well as “ew” and “OK” in 2018. This interjection used to express surprise features some heavy-hitter letters and has a base score of 20.
“Bizjet” and its plural “bizjets” were also added to “The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary” in 2018. This portmanteau combines the words “business” and “jet.” Bizjet is worth a base score of 25 and features a 10-point Z, which could be aligned for big bonuses on double- and triple-letter squares.
Katzenjammers is one of the highest-scoring words that will fit on a Scrabble board. At 15 letters long, it literally means cat’s wail in German, but was adopted into English to mean a nasty hangover or headache. Katzenjammers is worth 37 base points.
“Quartzy,” a Collins list adjective meaning resembling the mineral quartz, is both a 126-point opening play as well as a game-changer mid-game with a base score of 28. Playing the word’s Z on the double-letter-score tile while placing the word itself on a triple-word-score square while notching a bingo will net you 164 points.
Many obscure non-English words are found in the Scrabble dictionary, making them fair game, including this plural of the French name for a partners card game, which was reportedly Winston Churchill's favorite card game. Beziques is worth a base of 28.
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Along with beziques, “caziques,” the plural of a type of American oriole bird, is also worth a base of 28. Using board and bingo bonuses, caziques was successfully played for a whopping 392 points in a 1982 tournament by Karl Khoshnaw.
Along with beziques and caziques, “oxazepam” (an anxiety and insomnia medication) and “mezquits” and “mezquite,” both variations of the word “mesquite,” are words with a base of 28. If spelled over two triple-word-score squares with the Z or Q on the double-letter-score square with a bingo bonus, they can award you 392 points on a single play.
Although coming in below 392 points, there are a few other words that are eight-letter bingos that can get you hundreds of points. A few words can get you a total of 374 points if you land on two triple-word squares with the highest-point tile on a double-letter square. These include the American slang word “whizbang,” “highjack,” an alternative spelling of “hijack,” and “quetzals,” colorful crested birds that are the national bird of Guatemala as well as a Guatemalan unit of currency.
Besides katzenjammers, another 15-letter word worth 37 base points is hyperimmunizing, a verb meaning “to induce a high level of immunity.” Other words with the same base point value are: cyclohexylamine, hydroxyzine, hypercivilized, hypnotizability, photooxidizing, psychoanalyzed, subjectivized and ventriloquizing.
There are only a few words that come close to 41-point oxyphenbutazone that could theoretically nab you 38 base points. The first is hydroxyzines, the plural of an antihistamine and tranquilizer drug. Another, subjectivizing, means “to make subjective.”
One of the few other possible 15-letter megapoint words in Scrabble is psychoanalyzing, which means “to treat by means of psychoanalysis.” It has a base point value of 38.
This seven-letter Collins word, which means zoological taxonomy, is a great way to play a Z and an X, two of the highest-point tiles, worth 10 and 8 points respectively. The word has a minimum score of 26 points, which can easily be augmented with bonus tiles thanks to its length. If you and your family need to take a break from board games and stretch your legs, here are backyard games that will keep your kids busy for hours.
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