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Offensive Words Expunged From Scrabble Dictionary In 1993, Judith Grad, a kitchen-table Scrabble enthusiast was horrified to discover that the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (OSPD) contained racial, religious, and ethnic slurs along with common vulgarities and obscenities. She wrote letters of complaint to Hasbro (the company that owns Scrabble) and Merriam-Webster, the publisher of OSPD. The general response was that although some words were certainly offensive, they were still words that could be found in any collegiate-level dictionary. Moreover, their meanings were irrelevant to the game. Unsatisfied, Grad contacted the Anti-Defamation League of B'Nai Brith, the NAACP, and the Zionist Organization of America. That, combined with a letter-writing campaign organized by the National Council of Jewish Women, brought the 'offensive word issue' some mainstream publicity. Without consulting Merriam-Webster or the National Scrabble Association (NSA), Hasbro chairman Alan Hassenfeld, in a knee-jerk reaction, announced that '50 to 100 words' would be expunged when the next edition of OSPD was published. Predictably, serious tournament Scrabble players went nuts, accusing Hasbro of caving into censorship, political correctness and the 'language police.' A petition bearing the signatures of more than 800 tournament players was presented to Hasbro demanding Hassenfeld's decision be reversed. At the 1994 U.S. National Scrabble Championship in Los Angeles, an angry mob of more than 200 players vociferously declared their opposition to any expurgation and vowed to quit the game or even sue the NSA if any words were removed from the lists because of political correctness. An acceptable compromise was reached: Starting in 1996 a separate Official Word List (OWL)--without definitions--would be made available to tournament players through the NSA, while a sanitized OSPD would be sold to the general public. OSPD would contain no offensive words and a not-too-prominent disclaimer that it was only 'official' for school and recreational play. Since offensiveness is highly subjective, determining the words that were eventually expunged from OSPD was itself controversial. Brace yourself: Among the 303 'naughty' words you'll no longer see in OSPD are FATSO, LIBBERS, REDSKIN, GRINGO, BAZOOMS, COMSYMP, POONTANG, WETBACK, PAPIST, BADASS, REDNECK, BULLDYKE and STIFFIE.
Tags: Scrabble  words  censorship  political  correctness 
Added: 8th March 2011
Views: 2467
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Posted By: Lava1964
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2011-03-08 
One of the biggest obstacles that Scrabble club directors face is having to explain to a club newcomer that the so-called 'official' dictionary he/she bought at a bookstore is not actually the official word list used at clubs and tourneys.
Posted by: eric1957 on 2011-03-08 
I remember playing Spelldown (a version of Scrabble) on Yahoo Games one time and there were words I spelled on that game that wouldn't get past the rules of Scrabble.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2011-03-08 
As an 'insider' to the Scrabble subculture, I can accurately there were some interesting stories connected with the offensive-word controversy.

One word considered for expurgation was TUP. It means 'to copulate with a sheep.' It stayed in OSPD when it was pointed out that it meant to what a ram does with a ewe, not what a lonely farm boy might do.

ESPN televised the U.S. National Championship final for a few years. The network insisted that no offensive words could be shown on TV. This was patently ridiculous because one such word was REDSKINS--the same name the Washington NFL team has.

Hasbro's discomfort with this issue made it difficult for serious Scrabble players and media folks to obtain an official list of the words that had been expunged from OSPD. Mike Baron, a very good tournament player, basically created his own list and made it available to the Scrabble community to pass along to tournament and club newcomers.
Posted by: RainMan on 2011-03-11 
Trusting that this comment will not get me lambasted, this is ridiculous. What have we come to? What will happen to me (or members of my family) if I am overheard uttering one of these words at a public event? Incarceration?
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2011-03-12 
I totally agree with you, RainMan. We don't have freedom of speech or expression any longer. Apparently we only have a right not to be offended, which means everyone else is stifled.

For the life of me, I can't understand why COMSYMP, LIBBER, or PAPIST would be considered offensive.
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