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I’ll probably alienate a lot of people right off the bat, but I have to say I’ve never played Candy Crush, Angry Birds or Red Stone and most likely never will. I’m more a word game geek. Right now, I have several Words with Friends and Scrabble games on going.

By no means does that imply I’m a word expert or brainiac. There are many times I play a word only to have the Scrabble Teacherscrabbleteacherversion3 feature grimly appear with the “Uh-oh, here’s what you missed” thought bubble. He then shows me a word I’ve never heard of that generates 10, 20 or 85 more points than what I placed. I feel a teensy bit better knowing I didn’t actually miss that higher point score because I never had the word in me to begin with.

ScrabbleWords_01 michaelfuscodesign
michael fusco design

Aside from the 101 two-letter words available (does everyone know xu or qi are acceptable words?), sometimes I’ll place letters and press play, hoping the game will accept what I think is gibberish. When the word sticks, I gladly take those points. Just this week, I was at a loss and placed ZOON across a triple word square to receive 106 points – my highest to date. I confessed my guess to my opponent. My nephew then let me in on one of his secrets: Guessing keeps me alive in this game.

The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. According to the Global Language Monitor (GLM), there are 1,019,729 words in the English language. GLM further states the average high-school educated English speaker knows about 45,000 words (as high as 60,000 when including proper names and foreign words). It’s safe to say I’ll never use all the words available in the English language.

Yesterday I looked up zoon. Unless I’m writing an article for Biology Today, I probably won’t need ZOON again anytime soon – until the next Scrabble game, that is.

Zoon: noun, 1. Any of the individuals of a compound organism. 2. Any individual, or the individuals collectively, produced from a single egg.