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'Thang,' 'grrl,' and 'Facebook' added as official Scrabble words

The Collins Official Scrabble Words book has long offered the final word on disputes over whether a player's move is valid or not. Now, new additions to the list will make it a whole lot easier to score points in the popular board game.

Staff at the Glasgow-based Collins Dictionaries have introduced nearly 3,000 new words to the list, including street slang such as "thang," or thing, "innit," short for isn't it, and "blingy," used to describe flashy jewellery, according to the website of parent company HarperCollins. The addition of the slang term "grrl," or "grrrl," also known as a female with attitude, may come as a welcome relief at times when players run out of vowels.

The new list also includes tech terms such as "Myspace," "webzine," "Facebook," "Wiki" and "blook" (a book published via a blog). New non-English words also made it onto the list, including Indian terms for potato and cauliflower, "alu" or "aloo," and "gobi," respectively, as well as "wagyu," the breed of Japanese cattle.

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Meanwhile, HarperCollins says several words related to Islam were added, reflecting the increasing role of the religion in world affairs, such as "umma," an Islamic community, "shahid," meaning witness or martyr, and "nikah," or marriage contract.

The additions of the terms "fiqh," or Islamic jurisprudence, and "qin," a Chinese musical instrument, offer new moves for players stuck with the letter Q, without having to suffer the interminable wait for a U to come along. (Until now, "qi," the Chinese term for life force, was the accepted favourite.)

And at last, tricky words such as "airgun," "heatwave," "pushbike" and "inbox," which seem reasonable but were not officially valid, are now allowed.

"While compiling this list, we looked at dictionaries dating back to 2006. The wordlist was also compiled using the Collins Corpus - the world's largest language database of written and spoken English," said Robert Groves, editor of Collins English Dictionaries and editor of the latest Scrabble list, according to Australia's The Daily Telegraph.

The book was last updated in 2007. More than four million Scrabble boards are sold worldwide each year.

Traditionalists, however, aren't keen on changing their beloved game. The introduction last year of new rules that allow proper nouns horrified Scrabble diehards, and many are no less eager to embrace Monday's announcement of the new terms, particularly the acceptance of slang.

"I don't like slang words at all, but if they are going to put them in we will have to use them. I think there is too much slang in the English language as it is, with the way young people are talking," Scrabble club competitor Jean Gallacher told The Scotsman newspaper.

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Nonetheless, the value of many of the new terms are nothing to sniff at. "Webzine," for instance, can allow players to rake in at least 21 points, and laying down the five-point word "grrl" on the right place can potentially yield a much-needed lead.

Once naysayers throw "fiqh" (worth a whopping 19 points) down on a triple word score, they might just change their tune.

Time to 'fess up. What slang or non-English words have you been unofficially using in the game?

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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