Rant: Questionable Words With Friends

Rant: Questionable Words With Friends

I sometimes play Words With Friends, and I play it the way I play Scrabble: using words that a) I know and that b) I’m sure are words normal people would use. I don’t use wacky words (which isn’t to say any word I don’t know is “wacky” — in some cases I’m the ignorant problem).

But Scrabble and WWF, like any other game, is apparently meant to be played by people who exploit rules until those rules just about break. Thus: people keep playing words against me that are just, well…

I must protest the use of the following, which were all used against me in the last several weeks:

  • FE
  • JO
  • NE
  • TEFF
  • TEW
  • WAIR

I should have known some of these words, but come on…

I had some (gentle) words with a friend who used some of these words against me in Words With Friends. All’s fair, he pointed out. They’re in his Scrabble dictionary or something. He confesses that he has no idea what they mean.

This is like playing Call of Duty with people who never stop hiding in the trees or sneak through seams in the graphics so they can shoot at you from a perch you’d never find.

Foul, I say. And fair, too. Which just makes this all the more foul.


  • This is the exact reason I stopped playing Words with Friends. Ever since my friend admitted to using an online Scrabble dictionary, I’ve sworn off it.

  • If you know it, it’s fair game, but you have to actually know it. Dictionaries, generators and the like are cheating. If you happen to be prolix though, thats fine, if frustrating.

    • This. The WWF dictionary has some … stupid additions to it, and it’s a poor wordlist in general (ENABLE is very limiting), but something like Wordfeud uses proper standard dictionaries (like SOWPODS) to it. You either memorize it and use it or you don’t. Every competitive Scrabble player knows the first thing you do to get ahead is to get the two-letter words down pat in your head.

        • Shouldn’t “Qi” be disallowed for being a foreign word? I assume we’re talking about the Chinese spelling of “Chi” here.

          • Looking at the list Mr Totilo posted, FE and NE are abbreviations of Ferrous and Neon/NorthEast/Nebraska respectively. Jo is a bit dubious too. Are the rules for Words with Friends different to standard Scrabble?

    • My wife used LESBIAN against her mother the other day.
      The embarrassment for her was only slightly less than the fact she lost the game.

  • I played a game with a guy I used to work with, and there is no possible way he knew all the words he played. If people are going to use dictionaries or just guess until they get something right, I’m not going to play.

  • I used to play quite a bit of Scrabble and the two letter words are incredibly important to learn. I’ve played over a hundred games of WWF and haven’t lost yet. I still get surprised by words every now and then (believe me squeg with the q on a triple letter and the g on a triple word with the s tacked onto the end of a word with a j in it really hurts) but I make a note of them and add them to my arsenal for future use. The auto-dictionary does make WWF easier than Scrabble, but the playing field is level.

  • Yep, same boat as many others, once it became obvious 99% of players just enter their letters into a box and out pops their word, haven’t touched the app since. Which is a pity, I love scrabble.

  • Scrabble and Words with Friends aren’t actually word games. Oh, they have letters, but it’s like how sudoku isn’t really a numbers game even though it has numbers. To succeed in Scrabble, you have to be conversant with words whose sole use these days are as high-scoring words in Scrabble.

  • So much QQ. If you play scrabble, there is a card with allowable 2 letter words. Learn them. Hate sore losers calling me a cheat just because I paid attention at school an know words they don’t know.

  • Agreed with Jacky, It’s not different than an amateur chess player calling cheater someone who’s carefully studied the great masters. People believe that Scrabble (or similar games) is all about getting “lucky” enough to get handed a bit obscure 7 letter word and own with it. Better players know that it’s the two-letter words that allow you to play words /parallel/ to other words the ones that make the difference.

    @Jacky: WWF’s nickname?

  • One of my colleagues created a word generator app which takes a screenshot of the board and produces the highest scoring options for you. Not the only app of the sort on the app store, and that’s much more likely where most of such words came from…

  • Apparently there’s an iOS hack where it doesn’t matter what letters you put down, it will score you on those letters (for example, you could play wxqirs and it would accept it.)

  • qq moar

    The “fun” in the game is the depth of strategy and tactics to dominate the board. To maximise on points whilst minimising your opponents options.

    It matters not, the words used. It only matters how they are used.

  • It is significantly easier to play unusual words in WWF and WordFeud (unlike Scrabble, where the only way to find out if a word is valid is to play it and hope it’s not challenged), but that doesn’t mean that people who play those words are trying to break rules. There are cheat programs available, and there are people who will test every high-scoring combination they can find, and you don’t have to play them … but there are plenty of people who take the time to learn words like jo (darling, sweetheart) and qi (fundamental life force or energy). Don’t expect them to handicap themselves just because you wish to play with a smaller set of words.

  • I have tried playing with this game and its really cool and interesting..Me and my co workers love to play this game when our boss is not around..We also use the ANAGRAMMER to give us a clue in times we are having a hard time..

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