Are your tiles seemingly locked up with no chance for release? Don’t despair! Look for common little words that can be “hooked”—that is, they take a letter on either end—or combined with another small word to make a new word. It is easier to shuffle three or four tiles around a main word than it is to shuffle all seven tiles.
As you shuffle those tiles around, don’t just look for obvious prefixes and suffixes, such as SUB- and -ING. Compound words are surprisingly common and easily overlooked. Let’s explore our bodies for interesting compounds. (Pay no attention to that bony fellow; he’s just having a bit of fun.)
How many compound words can you think of, off the top of your HEAD? The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (OSPD) lists 39 5-, 6- and 7-letter words! Of course, not all of them are strictly compound words; however, from AIR to WAR, be on the lookout for 3-letter combos to tack on either end of HEAD.
As you become accustomed to digging up body parts and other common nouns, you will begin to see other combining forms. Other head words include HEADFUL, HEADIER, HEADILY, BEHEAD, COHEAD and HEADER.
Don’t shrug off the rest of your upper body parts, many compound words can be formed from them:
- NECK: DORNECK, NECKTIE, WRYNECK
- BACK: BACKBIT, BACKFIT, BACKLIT, BACKSAW, DIEBACK, FINBACK, SUNBACK, TIEBACK, TOMBACK
- ARM: ARMBAND, ARMHOLE, ARMLESS, ARMLETS, ARMLOAD, ARMLOCK, FIREARM (if you’re locked and loaded, you’re armed—get it?)
- RIB: MIDRIB, RIBAND, RIBBONY, RIBLIKE, RIBWORT
- HAND: Seriously? Ok… COWHAND, HANDBAG, HANDGUN, HANDOFF, OFFHAND, HANDSET
- NAIL: HOBNAIL, NAILSET, TOENAIL (we’ll get back to that one!)
Now that you’re all warmed up, perhaps you can bend those tiles to your will. Did you know that KNEEPAN is another word for KNEECAP? Other joints to excavate:
- HIP: HIPBONE, HIPLINE, ROSEHIP (if you also have the C, S or W, make compound words like BIOCHIP, KINSHIP or WHIPSAW)
- ANKLE and WRIST: both of these words need at least eight letters to make compound words, such as ANKLEBONE, WRISTBAND and WRISTLET
We’ve already seen TOENAIL. What if you had PINS instead of NAIL? Is a PINTOE the opposite of a PINHEAD? Of course not. But PINTOES is the plural of PINTO, a spotted horse. Keep an eye out for other funny-looking compound non-words that are actually playable:
- TOE: GUSTOES, MOTTOES, PHOTOED
- LIP: COWSLIP, FILLIP, LIPPEN, OXLIP, TULIP (which ones are not flowers?)
- EYE: BOGEYED, BONEYER, FEYEST, GLEYED, GREYED, HONEYED, HOSEYED, KEYED, OBEYED, PREYED, SOCKEYE, WHEYEY
Finally, we come to the FOOT, and what a treasure trove we’ve stumbled upon! These are true compound words, funny-looking compound non-words, uncommon combining forms and 8-letter monsters. Just look at all these:
BAREFOOT BIGFOOT BIGFOOTS CLUBFOOT CROWFOOT FINFOOT FINFOOTS FLATFOOT FOOTAGE FOOTAGES FOOTBAG FOOTBAGS FOOTBALL FOOTBATH FOOTBOY FOOTBOYS FOOTED FOOTER FOOTERS FOOTFALL FOOTGEAR FOOTHILL FOOTHOLD FOOTIE FOOTIER FOOTIES FOOTIEST FOOTING FOOTINGS FOOTLE FOOTLED FOOTLER FOOTLERS FOOTLES FOOTLESS FOOTLIKE FOOTLING FOOTMAN FOOTMARK FOOTMEN FOOTNOTE FOOTPACE FOOTPAD FOOTPADS FOOTPATH FOOTRACE FOOTREST FOOTROPE FOOTSIE FOOTSIES FOOTSLOG FOOTSORE FOOTSTEP FOOTSY FOOTWALL FOOTWAY FOOTWAYS FOOTWEAR FOOTWORK FOOTWORN FOREFOOT HOTFOOT HOTFOOTS OUTFOOT OUTFOOTS WEBFOOT