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21 English Words Without Vowels

Brrr: Useful words without vowels

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First-grade teachings notwithstanding, there are English words without vowels that are usable in word games. The diversity, complexity and straight-up weirdness of the English language scoffs at universal rules. Many words, particularly those that don’t come from English’s two parents, Latin and German, are best spelled sans AEIOU.

Better yet, like the Spanish Inquisition, no one expects words with no vowels. Knowing words your opponent won’t be looking for is vital for any word gamer trying to make life difficult for the competition. At WordFinder, we’ve gathered a list of 21 valuable English words without vowels we think you should know.

And Sometimes Y

Yes, English is actually full of words that don’t use the five main vowels, and the reason is one letter long: Y. Y is a flexible letter, standing in for Greek upsilon and various Nordic constructions of the same sound. The “and sometimes Y” rule can turn a whole handful of otherwise useless consonants into a high-score masterpiece. Even better, many of them can be pluralized with just an S, giving you more opportunities to score. For example:

  • Hymn(s): A religious song or song or praise

  • Lynx: A type of wildcat

  • Myrrh(s): A gum resin used in making incense

  • Myth(s): A story without an author usually intended to teach a lesson

  • Pygmy: Any person, animal or plant that is abnormally undersized

  • Pyx: A small container for carrying the Eucharist

  • Rhythm(s): A recurring movement of sound or speech

  • Shyly: In a shy manner

  • Sync(s): To match up

  • Wry: A mocking, biting or sarcastic sort of humor

  • Xyst(s): A long and open portico in a gymnasium

The Welsh W

There are two obscure words that use W as their singular vowel, both taken from Welsh. Welsh takes “double-u” literally; the W is a long U sound. Since W by itself is worth 4 points in both Scrabble and Words With Friends, these words are pure gold for players in need. They are:

  • Cwm: A circular space or arrangement

  • Crwth: An ancient Celtic instrument

Words Without AEIOU, Y or W

These do exist! Thank that old spelling bee favorite, onomatopoeia. More specifically, thank the remarkable power of the human voice, because even with alternate pronunciations, we can make an awful lot of sounds not summed up by AEIOU, or Y, or W. Onomatopoeias sometimes lack vowels because some vocalizations lack vowel analogues. A few other oddities also sneak in, ready to help toss unwanted letters and get some As and Es into your hand. For example:

  • Brrr or brr: An expression of being cold

  • Nth: Of an indefinitely large quantity

  • Pfft: Suggesting a sudden ending

  • Phpht or pht: Interjection to indicate mild annoyance

  • Psst: An interjection to attract someone's attention

  • Shh: Used to urge or request silence

  • Tsk: Sound made to express disapproval

  • Tsktsk: Alternative version of tsk

Patchwork Language

The only sure rule in English is that English has no sure rules. In a language that swipes vocabulary from Akkadian to Zulu, there’s an exception to every rule, no matter how strict or simple. Words without vowels do exist amongst the vowel words in the English language, and many are high-value strategic tools for any serious word gamer.

For more strategic tools, check out WordFinder’s curated collection of word lists, including all the playable words without vowels, or words with just vowels, to help prep for your next game. Or use our cheat tool to help you solve tough scrambles in your favorite word games like Word Cookies or Words With Friends. Happy pwning!

Matt Salter has been a professional writer for over 10 years. He is a gaming and technology expert, and world-class word nerd.

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