Two-Letter Words to play on Scrabble Day

Any time you play Scrabble against a serious competitive player you can expect them to offer up words such as xu, and zo with a surprising degree of confidence. These words may be seldom encountered outside the popular board game, but two-letter words are gold dust to Scrabble players. They allow them to form several words in a single turn and thus greatly increase their score. So keen Scrabble players will make an effort to learn all 124 of the two-letter words in the official Scrabble word list, regardless of whether they would ever use them in a normal conversation.

In fact, there is a rather obscure principle of English spelling that states that nouns, verbs, and adjectives should contain at least three letters. This explains why nouns such as ‘inn’ and ‘bee’ and verbs such as ‘buy’ have one letter more than might be thought strictly necessary. So the two-letter words that are used in everyday English tend to be ‘function words’ that do not name or describe things, but which exist to provide grammatical structure: words such as ‘to’, ‘in’, ‘so’, and ‘as’.

But these everyday words make up less than half of the two-letter words that are allowable in tournament Scrabble play. As well as these, you are allowed to use some informal shortened forms of words (such as ‘ad’, ‘op’, and ‘mo’) and exclamations (such as ‘hm’, ‘oi’, and ‘yo’) that you will probably be familiar with but might think would be inadmissible.

And beyond these, there are over fifty two-letter combinations that you would probably never imagine were words. Many of these are borrowings from other languages, which explains why they do not follow the rule that English nouns, verbs, and adjectives should have at least three letters. Here are a few of the more exotic and intriguing ones:

aa volcanic rock consisting of angular blocks of lava

ai the three-toed sloth

gu a type of violin used in Shetland

ka a spirit believed by ancient Egyptians to exist in a person or statue

ko a traditional digging tool used in New Zealand
li a Chinese measurement of distance

ti a woody East Asian plant

xu a monetary unit of Vietnam worth one-hundredth of a dong

yu jade

zo a Tibetan breed of cattle

That is just a selection, of course. If you want to outsmart your friends and learn all 124 of these killer Scrabble words, the full list can be found in the books and tools on the dedicated Scrabble page of this website.

By Ian Brookes
Collins Dictionary

Other Articles

Scrabble Word Finder

An instant check for words allowed in Scrabble™. Includes Scrabble word definitions and scores. Collins is the only online Scrabble word checker to use the official tournament word list, including over a quarter of a million permissible words. It’s endorsed by Mattel and the World English-Language Scrabble™ Players’ Association. Read More

Scrabble Tools

Scrabble™ Software Downloads temporarily unavailable. We are working to minimise the period of unavailability, but we are not presently able to advise when the Scrabble™ Tools will be back online. Read More

Scrabble Help

Collins is the Official Scrabble™ publisher, with over 279,000 playable words, Collins Scrabble™ books are used across the globe to settle Scrabble™ squabbles at every level. Whether a tournament player, a Scrabble™ champion-in-training or just playing for fun, the Collins Scrabble™ range caters for players’ needs. Discover the full range… Read More