The CONFUZZLE wordlist

There are lots of text files that list the words you can use in word games like Scrabble. (Some of them are more accurate than others.) But as far as I know, this is the only one that you can print on 17 double-sided sheets of letter-size paper.

The words in the list come from the excellent, public-domain ENABLE2K word list, compiled by Mendel Cooper. His website is sadly defunct, but the wordlist has become a standard for word games and puzzles.

Why would you want a wordlist on paper instead of a computer file? The same reason you’d want to play word games on a board instead of on a computer. Sometimes, you’d rather face the person you’re playing against than have your face in a laptop.

How the list works

The list only contains words, not their definitions. Still, given that there are over 170,000 words in the list, it takes some effort — beyond just using a 6-point font — to fit them on 34 pages.

This economy of printed space is accomplished through a form of human-readable compression. When many consecutive words in alphabetical order start with the same letters, as they tend to do, they are grouped together like this:

ALLOTYP- e es ic ically ies y

The grouping was chosen by an algorithm, not by a lexicographer, so sometimes words are grouped in odd ways:

NONSOL- ar id ids ution utions

I’ve also marked the differences between ENABLE and the more well-known standard, the Official Tournament and Club Word List 2 (OWL2). These markings are not authoritative, because I don’t have an electronic file of OWL2. I compiled the differences mainly from this National Scrabble Association page.

Locating the code that chose the groupings will, unfortunately, take a bit of hard-drive archaeology. I made the list in 2003, updated it for OWL2 in 2006, and updated it manually in 2011 to incorporate the National Scrabble Association’s errata to OWL2.