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Scrabble Letter Points Were Decided By How Many Times It Appeared On The New York Times Front Page

Updated February 10, 2024

Each year on National Scrabble Day April 13th recognizes a game played around the world. Originally named Lexiko and then Criss-Cross Words, Alfred Mosher Butts eventually settled on the name Scrabble.

  • 1931 – The amateur artist and unemployed architect developed the word game in 1931, in the midst of the depression. Still, it wasn’t until 1948, a final name change and a trademark that Butts finally began to produce the game.
  • 1938 – Inventor Alfred Mosher Butts created Scrabble as a variation on an earlier word game and called it Lexico.
  • 1948 – James Brunot bought the rights to the game and called it “Scrabble,” which means “to scratch frantically.”
  • 1958 – Jack Straus, president of Macy’s, placed a large order for this game after playing it on vacation.
  • 1984 – Scrabble became a daytime game show on NBC
  • 2004 – Scrabble was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame
  • The word “scrabble” means to “grope frantically.”
  •  It was first called Scrabble by James Brunot, a friend of inventor Butts, who played the games with him. After coining the name Scrabble for the games, Brunot and his wife created a partnership and began manufacturing the game in 1948.
  • Worldwide, over One hundred and fifty million sets have been sold with sets being found in nearly one-third of American homes.
  • Scrabble history notes that the president of Macy’s played the game while on vacation and ordered a few games for his store. Sales soared and within a year, the game was a huge hit and games were rationed to stores around the country.
  • Merriam-Webster notes that the top words to win at Scrabble include qi, za, phoney, retinas, xu, zlotty, hook, gyoza, bingo, and amigo. You’ll also want to memorize these 30 little-known words that will help you score big.
  • Last September, Merriam-Webster added over 300 words to the Sixth Edition of The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary. It is officially OK to use the word OK as well as these 14 other words added to the Scrabble dictionary.
  • A study in Psychological Research showed that men and women play the game to meet different needs. Men focus their energy on practicing anagrams and evaluating the game while women are more apt to play Scrabble as a hobby. There’s also this other reason men do better at Scrabble than women.
  • How Butts created the points system. Butts came up with the system by taking the front page of an issue of the New York Times and counting how many times each letter of the alphabet appeared. He determined that the letters that occurred the most—such as E or T—would only be worth 1 point and be represented on the most tiles. Infrequent and harder to use letters—like Z and Q—were relatively rare, so Butts made them worth 10 points.
  • The most points possible in a turn of Scrabble: 1,782. To get that, a player would have to form the word oxyphenbutazone (it’s an anti-inflammatory drug) while also hitting three “triple word score” squares.
  • Each hour, at least 30,000 Scrabble games are started.
  • Down the sides of sofas, underneath carpets, eaten by children and pets alike; somewhere in the world there are over a million missing Scrabble tiles.
  • If all the Scrabble tiles ever produced were lined up, they would stretch for more than 50,000 miles!
  • The original version of ScrabbleLexico, did not have a board and was played with tiles only.
  • There are 124 playable two-letter words in the English (language) game, containing every letter in the alphabet except for V.
  • Scrabble is ranked as the second-best board game in U.S. History, second only to Monopoly.


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