Turning Fake Words Into Real Wins
The most important trick for using fake words is to be convincing when playing them. Bluffing in Scrabble is like bluffing in poker. You need to know how to not show any tells and you need to read your opponent. Are they going to fall for it? They can challenge a word, but if they are wrong, it’s going to cost them.
Know what your fake words mean. That means creating and memorizing fake definitions. The rules don’t require you to provide definitions. But, having that information will improve your ability to bluff and help make these fake words sound real.
Bluffing Has Its Limits
Also, keep in mind that fake words are primarily for when you’re playing the traditional board game. Most digital games and apps automatically check to see if a word is in its official dictionary. It’s a bummer, we know.
“Claster” is useful because it sounds like other words. That’s what makes many fake words useful, actually. Lots of words in the English language are made by modifying existing words or sharing a root word from a different language.
This one is reminiscent of “caste,” “caster,” “clasp” and more. There’s a huge chance your opponent will miss their chance to challenge it.
This imposter word, like “claster,” sounds like it could be related to many other words. “Chest” is the closest and most obvious association, so someone might think it’s related to chests or keeping things safe.
What’s also useful is how it can sound to people. “Chesture” sounds similar to “Cheshire.” Thanks to the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, many people will be familiar with the pronunciation. This means they might instinctively fail to question it as much as they should.
This one could deceive people because it sounds like an idiom or slang term that could have become a real word. Maybe “crestboot” is some old term from the wild west. A cowboy or rancher’s job could have been to rescue livestock that had wandered onto a mountain or an elevated region. They would need to spend a lot of time walking around on that crest, hence taking on the role of a crestboot.
What’s special about “dord” is that it’s a fake word that was also real. Dord is a ghost word, which is any word that appears in the English dictionary but was never actually used in the language.
The word originated from a misunderstanding of what “D or d” meant. “D” (or the lowercase “d”) refers to density when discussing physics and chemistry. When adding it to a dictionary, someone thought it spelled “Dord.” It sounded real enough to end up in the dictionary, so it shouldn’t be too hard to convince people that it belongs on a Scrabble board.
Fake words that combine two or more words have a tendency to seem plausible. Real words that start as two separate words are common in English. So when you take “drop” and “pellet” and slap them together, many people might just assume it’s a new compound word that they didn’t know yet.
English constantly gains new words by way of other languages. Its long and varied European history, plus its widespread global use today pave the way for many borrowed words in English. The French language is one of the biggest contributors of words to the English lexicon.
So, a fake word like “pounet,” if you make sure that the T is silent when you say it, can pass for an English word with a French origin. Perhaps you could convince your opponent that a “pounet” is a type of elegant hat worn by only the most fashionable Parisians.
Scientific fields love to create words that suit their specific needs and new discoveries. Once people in that field start using those words often enough, they make their way over to the rest of society. “Singlewave” sounds believable enough to be one of those words. It might represent something that has to do with radio frequencies and telecommunications, for example.
This is another fake word that looks scientific and sounds real. “Vasagle” sounds like it fits with many medical or biology terms. Vasovagal syncope is a medical condition. It’s a triggering of the vagal nerve to cause a sudden drop in blood pressure. This, in turn, can cause someone to lose consciousness. For anyone who’s not in the medical field, “vasagle” could definitely seem related to that part of human anatomy.
When in doubt, turn to Old English for confusing fake words. The shame is that if any of us could go back in time and meet the original speakers of the language, we probably wouldn’t understand anything they said. They probably wouldn’t understand modern slang either.
Old English was still dominated by its Germanic and Norse origins. Plus, the alphabet was different from what we use today. Throw a few Y’s, W’s or V’s between some other letters. With that, you’ll have a word that many people will assume is from a bygone era. Stay confident and let your opponent know that a “ybuwyn” is a mythical sea serpent that lurks in the depths of the Irish Sea.
For Scrabble players, two-letter words are some of the most important words to memorize. You can remind your opponent of this fact by playing some fake ones. “Zi” is not a real word, but “za” is. If “za” is real (it’s an abbreviated version of “pizza”), then you could make the argument that “zi” is real too.
A nice bonus about “zi” is that your opponent will need to seriously consider if they want to challenge such a small word. You can make this harder for them by giving the word a complex definition. Say that it is an alternate spelling for another fake word, “zy,” which is, in turn, a shortened version of “zygote.”
Knowing What Is Real and What Is Fake
Using fake words that sound real is a skill. Every Scrabble player needs to consider all options available if they want to claim victory. Mastering fake words can also help with another important detail: Knowing when a word is real even though it looks super fake. For some examples, see WordFinder's list of 31 words that look fake but are real. They are proof that it’s not always easy to determine what is legit or not.
Zac Pricener has been a content creator for the past eight years. He’s a bit of an all-around nerd, and he has a bad habit of working movie and TV show references into conversations whenever possible.