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Finding the Official Scrabble Dictionary That's Right for You

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Scrabble is a game that people can play casually or competitively. However it’s played, keeping a quality word list from an official Scrabble dictionary is important. It will verify words and settle disputes. There are three standard Scrabble word list options: the Official Scrabble Player Dictionary, the NASPA Word List and Collins Scrabble Words. Which one should you use?

Scrabble’s Official Dictionary — “Official” for a Reason

The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (OSPD) is a complete resource for playing Scrabble. Its word lists section offers players options on top of options. Based on the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the OSPD makes it fast and easy to find the perfect word.

For Casual Scrabble Players

This is the best list for casual or intermediate players, and it’s also ideal for use in schools. The lists are organized into several categories. This way, you can easily narrow your search while also finding Scrabble words you might not have ever thought to use.

Maybe you’re trying to find something in the two-letter word list. Then, the vowel-heavy word list catches your eye and you realize you have more options than you first thought. The OSPD does all it can to help players who aren’t exactly masters of the game.

An Up-to-Date and Educational Resource

The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary also offers definitions for every word. Since the OSPD strives to make the game accessible to casual players, definitions are a must-have (and appreciated). This word list is updated on occasion to keep up with the constant addition of new words to the English language. It is in its sixth edition as of September 2018.

NASPA Word List — For the American Champions

The North American Scrabble Players Association designed the NASPA Word List (NWL) to better suit tournament players. It is a regional list and is only used in tournaments in the United States and Canada.

A Bigger Tournament Word List

NASPA created the NWL using the official Scrabble dictionary word list as a starting point. The NASPA Word List provides players with words generally regarded as acceptable for Scrabble. However, it also contains words omitted by the OSPD. These include certain trademarked terms and words removed from the OSPD after they were deemed offensive.

Another important thing to note about the NWL is that it does not offer any definitions for the words. This is definitely a list for players who are part of the tournament scene and don’t need to see word definitions. If you are looking to learn about the game and the meaning of some new words, it would be best to stick with the OSPD word list.

Be Aware of NASPA Name Changes

One thing to be aware of is that while NASPA Word List is the official name, it has gone by other names in the past. It was once known as the Official Tournament and Club Word List. Players abbreviated this to OTCWL, OWL or TWL. These names all refer to the NASPA Word List, so don’t get confused if ever see these other abbreviations.

Collins Scrabble Words — A Worldwide Standard

Collins Scrabble Words (CSW) is the list used in tournament play all around the world. Its origins are similar in many ways to those of the NWL. Collins created this word list by taking words from different sources. They referenced the NWL, so CSW could include words from the Official Scrabble Dictionary too. The Collins English Dictionary was used to reference words from British English.

Combining American and British English

It is this combination of all acceptable words from both American and British word sources that makes CSW so valuable. Tournament players across the globe wanted a unified list. So, Collins Scrabble Words was created in the late 1980s to make that dream a reality.

CSW is the list to use if you’re interested in tournament play and either don’t live in North America or wish to play in international tournaments. Like the NWL, it also contains words the OSPD does not. Examples include certain proper nouns and trademarked names.

Another advantage CSW has over NWL is the inclusion of word definitions. It makes sense for this particular word list to offer them. People from all around the world use this official Scrabble players dictionary. They might be unfamiliar with words not used in their region. So, the need or desire for definitions is pretty common.

Another Case of Name Change

Like the NASPA Word List, CSW has changed its name over the years too. It was originally known as SOWPODS. This acronym combines OSPD with the Official Scrabble Words (OSW), the official Scrabble dictionary in the UK for a time.

Pick the Best Word List for You

Knowing which Scrabble word list to use depends on what level of player you are and what you hope to get out of the list. Check each official Scrabble dictionary for yourself. Want to test how useful they are? Play a few practice games of Scrabble on your own to hone your skills before challenging other players.


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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