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Is Quo a Legal Scrabble Word?

Scrabble letters Q, U, O

Photo taken by Beth Wiggins for WordFinder

Got Qs blues? It can be tough to slot that 10-point beauty into anywhere useful. It's especially tricky in Scrabble, as Words With Friends and other digital imitators have more generous lexicons than their parent. What about "quo"? Underused treasure, or tempting but futile mirage?

Is "Quo" Legal?

Alas, quo, despite appearing in many reputable dictionaries (including ours, obviously) as a component of "quid pro quo," "status quo," or an archaic-er form of the already archaic quoth, does not appear in OSPD (Official Scrabble Players' Dictionary) or OTWCL (Official Tournament and Club Word List). Those are the canonical texts of casual and tournament Scrabble respectively. We therefore regret to inform you that if you're looking to play QUO, you're SOL.

10 Things to Do With Quo Instead

Fear not. We at WordFinder are not in the habit of leaving our readers with bad news and no options. Here are 10 entirely legal ways to put the letters Q, U and O to work for you in your next game of Scrabble.

  • ALIQUOT - Feeling obscure? This archaic word for a given amount of medicine or other chemical will let you play big, even with an awkward Q in your hand.

  • LIQUOR - The dictionary is short enough on words that contain "quo." Words with "quo" that don't start with Q? Buried treasure. Better yet, unlike "aliquot" or "quokka," "liquor" is a common enough word to avoid any challenge kerfuffle. Our competitive Scrabble readership is now calling out, "But you want a challenge if you know the word is valid!" Our competitive Scrabble readership has plainly never ruined a family holiday by accurately challenging one's grandmother. Inadvisable.

  • QUA - "Quo qua quo," believe it or not, is a grammatically correct phrase. Quo qua quo, that is, "quo" in and of itself, with no external influences applied, is not a Scrabble-legal word. "Qua," the conjunction meaning "in and of itself," is.

  • QUOD - Latin for "because" or "since," "quod" is both the Q in QED and a British slang term for prison. The latter derives from a corruption of "quadrangle," since you ask. It's also unique on this list: it takes just one letter, that singular D, to turn "quo" into this entirely Scrabble-legal play.

  • QUOIT - A quoit is a ring designed to be thrown, and occurs everywhere from carnival sideshow games to the battlefields of Sikkim. It should also be a staple of any Scrabbler's lexicon, since it takes only two common letters, I and T, to turn "quo" into playable gold.

  • QUOKKA - Honestly, if your hand includes a Q and two Ks, our heart bleeds for you. Not all hope is lost, however. Even with that wretched of a draw, if you can just dredge up a common-as-chips A tile, you have yourself an adorable marsupial just waiting to be deployed.

  • QUOLL - Another marsupial! Australia evidently has a lot of QUOs to dispose of. This is a wonderful way to rid your hand of excess Ls as well.

  • QUORUM - You may have heard this one on the news: it's a parliamentary term meaning "the number of people that have to be present to do a particular thing." This 6-letter import from Latin is no small achievement on a Scrabble board, but if the opportunity offers, it's a chance to get big points fast.

  • QUOTA - A QUOTA is simply a given number of things set as a goal. Everyone from sales executives to census takes have quotas to fill, and, requiring only two abundant letters, A and T, it should appear on every serious Scrabbler's word list.

  • QUOTE - Everything about QUOTA goes double for QUOTE. Requiring only a T and the game's commonest letter, E, this word for "a given statement" is a perfect way to clear your hand of Q, U and O.

Quos in Repose

There's a good argument to be made that QUO should be a legal Scrabble word. The argument against it is less "it's not a real word" than "a three-letter word with a Q in it would dramatically change the game, especially at the tournament level." Heck, Scrabble didn't allow what is probably the single most commonly spoken word on Earth, OK, until 2018. And, there was audible grumbling from the seriously Scrabulous even then.

Point being, Scrabble isn't about declaring what words are and are not "real." It's about what you can do with the letters. QUO is a valuable draw. Use any of the 10 entries above to make them work for you. If you need still more help disbursing a deviant Q, try our article on whether QA is a word.

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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