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25 Foreign Words You Should Be Playing in Scrabble

foreign words from around the world

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In Scrabble, players are only allowed to play words that are part of the language they’re using to play. Put another way, all foreign words are considered unplayable. That’s what the rules state, but rules are meant to be broken. Over the many decades that Scrabble has been around, a vast assortment of foreign words has made its way into Scrabble word lists and dictionaries.

Listed below are several foreign words used in English that you should also be using when you play Scrabble.

Adieu

  • Language of origin: French

  • Scrabble score: 6

  • Words With Friends score: N/A

ADIEU is a common way to say farewell in French. And, it sees a lot of use in English as well. For use in Scrabble, playing this vowel-heavy word is a handy way to say farewell to any lead your opponent might have.

Amour

  • Language of origin: French

  • Scrabble score: 7

  • Words With Friends score: 9

AMOUR is a naturally scandalous word, as it refers to an illicit love affair. When playing it in a word game, there’s nothing scandalous about it. Like “adieu,” AMOUR is a useful five-letter word that lets you use a lot of vowels in one turn.

Bandito

  • Language of origin: Spanish

  • Scrabble score: 10

  • Words With Friends score: 12

BANDITO is the Spanish term for a bandit or thief. So, to keep with the theme, you should use this seven-letter word filled with common letters to steal the game away from your opponent. You could even score a bingo!

Barista

  • Language of origin: Italian

  • Scrabble score: 12

  • Words With Friends score:14

If you’ve ever visited a cafe and ordered a drink, the person who served you would have been a BARISTA. They serve delicious drinks, but you can serve yourself some delicious points by playing this seven-letter word. Play it straight from your tile rack for a bingo bonus. Or, thanks to its common consonants and multiple vowels, you can use it to make extensions from words already on the board.

Bento

Bento word definition with visualBento word definition with visual
  • Language of origin: Japanese

  • Scrabble score: 10

  • Words With Friends score: 12

A BENTO is a small compartmentalized box used in Japan and other parts of Asia to serve food. It separates all of the courses of a single meal. For the word games, it’s a simple-to-play word that starts with B that can score you some quick points.

Bezique

  • Language of origin: French

  • Scrabble score: 27

  • Words With Friends score: N/A

BEZIQUE is a card game. It’s similar to pinochle, but it uses a double deck of 64 cards. For Scrabble, this word can let you score a bingo bonus and use the Z and Q tiles, all in one turn.

Cinq

  • Language of origin: French

  • Scrabble score: 15

  • Words With Friends score: 17

There isn’t much to know about CINQ. It’s another way to say “five” in French when playing dice or card games. That’s appropriate though, as this word ending in Q is very useful for word games too.

Crwth

  • Language of origin: Welsh

  • Scrabble score: 13

  • Words With Friends score: 13

CRWTH is an archaic Celtic musical instrument. Think of it as something like a violin, but with a shallow yet wide body. It’s one of the better examples of foreign words in English, particularly in the context of word games. That’s because it is a consonants-only word. So, you can use it to get out of situations when you have no vowels to create any other words.

Dojo

  • Language of origin: Japanese

  • Scrabble score: 13

  • Words With Friends score: 13

A DOJO is a school or room where people learn various forms of self-defense. These include popular forms of martial arts like karate and judo. Use the word to defend your lead in a game by playing the often-troublesome J tile.

Eaux

  • Language of origin: French

  • Scrabble score: 11

  • Words With Friends score: 12

EAUX is one of the ways they say “water” in France. In Scrabble, it’s one of the ways to say, “I’m using three vowels and that annoying X tile in a single turn.” Foreign words sure are versatile, aren’t they?

Faqir

  • Language of origin: Arabic

  • Scrabble score: 17

  • Words With Friends score: 17

A FAQIR is a follower of Islam who is also a beggar who doesn’t own any personal property. The word has an opposite context in word games though. A word that lets you use the Q tile without a U tile is always super valuable. You won’t find too many examples of those that aren’t foreign words.

Femme

  • Language of origin: French

  • Scrabble score: 12

  • Words With Friends score: 14

FEMME is what you use to describe a woman or girl in French. While not a complex word to spell, the two E and double M tiles mean that the word is worth a decent amount of points on its own, let alone if you add it onto an existing word on the board.

Libretto

Libretto word definition with visualLibretto word definition with visual
  • Language of origin: Italian

  • Scrabble score: 10

  • Words With Friends score: 12

LIBRETTO isn’t just the name of a fun word game. In Italian, it’s a book or text containing an opera, oratorio or other dramatic musical work. This is a word for more adept players, as it’s eight letters long. You’ll need to look for chances to create it by combining tiles you have with tiles already on the game board.

Gelato

  • Language of origin: Italian

  • Scrabble score: 7

  • Words With Friends score: 9

When you order a GELATO at a restaurant or dessert spot, what you’re going to get is delicious Italian ice cream. When you play GELATO in Scrabble or Words With Friends, what you get is a six-letter word composed primarily of common letter tiles. 

Guru

  • Language of origin: Hindi

  • Scrabble score: 5

  • Words With Friends score: 8

A GURU is a type of teacher or mentor. Typically, they teach people about spiritual matters, though people also use the term for experts in almost any given field. In that sense, you can become a gaming guru by playing this word and teaching your opponent that you know all sorts of useful words that they don’t.

Hibachi

  • Language of origin: Japanese

  • Scrabble score: 17

  • Words With Friends score: 17

If you own a portable charcoal-burning grill, what you probably have is a HIBACHI. Another useful and longer word, HIBACHI’s double H’s and I’s give you a number of opportunities to build it on the game board.

Hombre

  • Language of origin: Spanish

  • Scrabble score: 13

  • Words With Friends score: 14

HOMBRE is how you say “man” in Spanish. And, with it netting you 13 or 14 points depending on which game you play, you can be “the man” whenever you place the tiles for it and tally those points.

Karma

  • Language of origin: Hindi

  • Scrabble score: 11

  • Words With Friends score: 12

In Hinduism, KARMA is the idea that a person’s actions determine their fate or destiny. This often applies to the concept of reincarnation and what their next life would be like. In Scrabble, this easy-to-play word can make things good for you in the here and now by helping you score some quick points.

Klutz

  • Language of origin: Yiddish

  • Scrabble score: 18

  • Words With Friends score: 20

A KLUTZ is a clumsy person. Or a dolt, if you want to drive the point home with someone. When playing either Scrabble or Words With Friends, it’s a high-value word that lets you use the valuable and rare K and Z tiles for big points.

Mahjong

  • Language of origin: Chinese

  • Scrabble score: 20

  • Words With Friends score: 24

MAHJONG is a game of Chinese origin. It’s played with four players, and the game tiles resemble dominoes. This word’s utility in Scrabble is high, as you spell with an assortment of letters that vary in rarity. Plus, any word that lets you use the J tile is always worth memorizing. 

Monsieur

  • Language of origin: French

  • Scrabble score: 10

  • Words With Friends score: 13

MONSIEUR is the formal way to address someone as “mister” or “sir” in French. It’s a way to show respect. In Scrabble and Words With Friends, it’s a way to earn respect, as playing this eight-letter word that’s filled with vowels will be a display of your skill.

Origami

  • Language of origin: Japanese

  • Scrabble score: 10

  • Words With Friends score: 12

ORIGAMI is the art of folding a single piece of paper repeatedly to create intricate designs. It takes a lot of practice and creativity to master the artform. Likewise, it will take almost the same skill to find the perfect opportunity and location on the board to play this word.

Si

  • Language of origin: Spanish

  • Scrabble score: 2

  • Words With Friends score: 2

SI is how you say “yes” in Spanish. In Scrabble and Words With Friends, it’s a two-letter word that lets you say yes to some easy points. The most important thing about it, though, is that the S tile grants you an easy way to make a plural hook off an existing word.

Siesta

  • Language of origin: Spanish

  • Scrabble score: 6

  • Words With Friends score: 6

When you work in a sweltering climate, taking a SIESTA, a type of rest or nap, after eating lunch is a good idea. Staying active during the high point of the day’s heat can completely drain you of energy. Similarly, playing SIESTA can energize you during a game. All of its common letters will make it easy to find a place to rest this word on the board.

Vodka

  • Language of origin: Russian

  • Scrabble score: 13

  • Words With Friends score: 14

VODKA is an alcoholic drink commonly associated with Russia and the Russian people. It is a colorless liquor distilled from rye, wheat or other types of grain mash. Thanks to its inherent value from the K and V tiles, playing this word at the right time will make your opponent wish they could have a glass of vodka to help them deal with the situation.

More Unusual Words to Play

Foreign words in English, though not always easy to play, net you a lot of opportunities. They’ll net you a lot of points in your favorite word games, too. Their unconventional spellings empower you to make the most of your vowels and difficult-to-use consonants. It’s helpful to learn as many bizarre spelling options as possible, which is why you should also study words that don’t use vowels at all. Our list of English words without vowels will supply you with a collection of consonant-only words that can help you build and maintain the lead in any game.


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.

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