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Very Big Words: 1953

Very Big Words: 1953

November 1953. "Scrabble inventor Alfred Butts & promoter James Brunot posed with oversized game." Acetate negative by Arthur Rothstein from photos for the Look magazine assignment "For Women Only -- Word Rage." View full size.


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Hurricane stories

It's unlikely anyone will play Scrabble with my dad without hearing about how he played it by kerosene lamp during Hurricane Carla in 1961, with a family he was sheltering with, who lived on higher ground. He has a multitude of other stories, including the one about the cow that managed to swim across Galveston Bay and end up in his family's pasture.

Largely disappointed

I was really hoping a large Shorpy watermark would be put to more imaginative use here.

Jo and Joes

Jo is a Scottish term for sweetheart, and is the only two letter-word containing J allowed in Scrabble. The plural is Joes and is also allowed.


Jo is an acceptable word. It’s a wooden staff used in Japanese martial arts.


In the official Scrabble dictionary, FAG = to make weary by hard work.
Fag meaning cigarette would be strictly English (UK) slang.


It's a word. Fourteen points.

APPLE is a Nine Point Word

The nice shiny wax fruit on the table behind the gents reminds me a lot of visiting my grandparents home. It seems no one could be one of the smart set in mid-century America with having a bowl of delicious fake reds and golds on display. As for the real thing? Yeah, they always had some of those as well.

The version for the elderly.

No bifocals required.

Good knees and backs essential.

7-letter word

If we want to use up all our letters for the 50-point bonus, we must first figure out what letter is lurking behind the right elbow of the guy in the tie. The four 3-point letters are B, C, M, and P, so it looks like a P to me. The letters in our rack are S, H, E, L, F, P, H.


Given his letter choices, "HEX" and "JE" would be the big score in Words With Friends.

HENS was my first guess, too

But no.

SHY is a much better score than HENS.

SHY is 17 points, while HENS is only 10, and you save the valuable E.

As a total aside, this board would NOT pass muster today. JO is not a valid word (it's a proper name) which isn't allowed. I guess the rules have changed in the game over the years.

If you got 'em, smoke 'em

By "fag" they probably mean cigarette. Maybe "fagged" (tired out) has the infinitive form "to fag". I don't have any 1953 dictionary, let alone a Scrabble dictionary, if such could be obtained in those days.

Behind the sofa

How do you hide your letters from your opponent - do you put them behind the sofa?
I guess you have to pick new ones out of a sack - how physically do you shake it up?

Fooled me!

I expected to see NATIONAL EMERGENCY (two "very big words" as recently uttered on TV).


But that would still leave two letters on the rack.

Word choices

Gotta be going for HENS. I would think HEY would get more points. But I don't play the game, so what do I know!

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