These obscure words will score you big points the next time you play the popular word game.
In 2006, Scrabble recognized more than 3,000 new words that totally shook up the game. Two major editions were the two-letter words “qi,” the Chinese word for a person’s vital energy, 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. But if you build on two As below and to the right of the triple letter square, you could spell za both across and down and net a maximum of 62 points.
You might’ve never heard the word quixotry before, but die-hard Scrabble fans have known it for almost a decade. That’s because in 2006, carpenter Michael Cresta broke the record for the highest single turn play in Scrabble by scoring 365 points with the 27 base point word, which means “a wild, visionary idea, an eccentric notion or act” and comes from the fictional character Don Quixote. Cresta also set a record for the most points in a game by one player, and he and his opponent, Wayne Yorra, set a record for the most total points in a game.
This lengthy name for an anti-inflammatory drug for arthritis 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 by joining seven tiles from your rack to eight already-played tiles, you could score a whopping 1,780 points.
According to Stuart Kidd, etaerio, which means an aggregate or cluster fruit such as a raspberry or a blackberry, is the most likely seven letter word to appear on a Scrabble rack. 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 opening word you can play. Muzjiks, which was what Russian peasants were called prior to the Russian Revolution of 1917, 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 muzjiks eludes you, another high-scoring opening move is “squeezy,” worth 126 points. Nowadays squeezy simply means flexible and able to be squeezed, but it used to be used to mean cramped, restricted or confined.
According to Mental Floss, some little pickles can make a big stir on a Scrabble board. In 1985, player Robert Kahn formed the word “gherkins,” meaning pickles made from small cucumbers, using an E and R already on the board to nab 180 points and to set a record for a non-bingo (rack-clearing) word score.
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 meaning 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 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 at least 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 hatchet-like tool for cutting roofing slates, this word has a base value of 19 points. The next-highest three-word option is “zek,” an inmate at a Soviet labor camp, at 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. The two 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.
According to Scrabble Wizard, 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, along with nine other words.
“Quartzy,” meaning resembling the mineral quartz, is both a 126-point opening play as well as a game-changer mid-play. According to James Bartlett, its the highest-scoring word you can play. Landing the word’s Z on the double letter score tile while placing the word itself on a triple word score square 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 19th-century partners card game, which was reportedly Winston Churchill's favorite card game. Beziques as well as caziques, the plural of a type of American oriole bird, are both worth a base of 28 and a maximum of 161 possible points.
Along with beziques and caziques, oxazepam (an anxiety medication) and mezquits and mezquite, both variations of the word “mesquite,” are the five words that, if spelled over two triple-word score squares with a premium-scoring tile on the double-letter score square, can award you 392 points on a single play, according to Craig Rowland.
Although coming in a few points below 392, three words that are eight-letter bingos can get you 374 points if you land on two triple word squares with the highest-point tile on a triple letter square, according to Bruce D. Wilner. 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 render highly immunized.” The other eight words with the same base point value are: cyclohexylamine, hydroxyzine, hypercivilized, hypnotizability, photooxidizing, psychoanalyzed, subjectivized and ventriloquizing.
There are three words that are three points fewer than oxyphenbutazone that would still theoretically nab you 38 base points. The first is hydroxyzines, the plural of an antihistamine drug. The second, subjectivizing, means “to make subjective.”
The final possible 15-letter megapoint word in Scrabble is psychoanalyzing, which means “treating or investigating by means of psychoanalysis.”
This seven-letter word, which means “the science of the classification of animals,” is a high-scoring 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.