And among my wife's family, the free game Scramble 2 is fairly popular. It's like Boggle, where you form words from contiguous letters among a random distribution of letters. For a wordsmith it can be as addictive as Tetris. At family gatherings it's not unheard of for people to pass an iPhone or iPod Touch around and compete... Actually, "compete" is a bad word for what we're doing. It's more like we're all soldiers in a platoon, assailing an impregnable stronghold represented by scoring 40 points or more.
This game is hard. It's hard to bring to mind all the words one knows and find them in combinations, or to look at the paltry selection of unlikely letters and summon words among them. It's very difficult, and it's very discouraging: frequently the end of the game is met with a chorus of regret as people review all the words they should've gotten.
Except who could get these words? I don't mind doing so badly, when the word database is so profoundly obscure. In this picture are the words dhooly, azlon, and cibol. I have never, ever heard of these words before in my life, in my extensive reading background, in my decades-long academic career.
I looked them up in the dictionary application on my iMac. It had never heard of them either.
I looked them up on Merriam-Webster. It seemed to have heard of them, but it wouldn't share their definitions without a paid account. It does that, sometimes: it saves the best words for people who shell out money for a subscription to the dictionary. Yeah, well, there are other Internet resources.
For instance, I still have my school account, and it still provides me access to the OED. What I found was as irritating as being denied the definition due to not paying for it.
- doolie, dooly
- A rudimentary litter or palanquin used by the lower classes in India, and as an army ambulance. (Erroneous: dhooly)
- Azlon is a synthetic textile fiber composed of protein material derived from natural sources.
- cibol, ciboule
- Another form of chibol, known also as Stone Leek, Rock Onion, and Welsh Onion.
So, this game? It's kinda bullshit.