Friday, February 25, 2011

How to play the longest word in English possible, in Scrabble, ethylenediaminetetraacetates

Why is ethylenediaminetetraacetates the longest word in Scrabble? There are other longer, more popular words, like floccinaucinihilipilification, the act of esteeming something as worthless, antidisestablishmentarianism, which is wanting to keep the Church of England together, the Mary Poppins originated word of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, and that one volcano ash lung disease condition, pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

Before I answer that, here's how to play ethylenediaminetetraacetates:
It's a hard word to play in Scrabble because none of its obvious compound words of ethylenediamine, diaminetetra, and tetraacetates are words. What is ethylenediaminetetraacetates? It's the conjugate base of ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid or EDTA, which is some kind of industrial compound.

The longest word that anyone's actually heard of is electroencephalographically, which is a form of electroencephalograph, an EEG, which is when they put a bunch of wires on your head and the read your brain waves.

How to play electroencephalographically:
However, both of those words don't fit on a regular 15x15 Scrabble board. They're only theoretically possible, because The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary only has 7 and 8 letter words as the longest words, and the official Scrabble dictionary says, "Words that exceed eight letters in length and are not inflected forms of words entered in this dictionary should be looked up in a standard dictionary. The National SCRABBLE® Association recommends Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, as a reference for additional words." And, the longest word in that referenced lexical tome is ethylenediaminetetraacetates. So, that's the answer to the question above. That means you'll either need to play this on Super Scrabble Max Ultimate® which only exists in the future, or find an online word game like Word2 or Lexulous.

So, what's the longest word that you can actually play on a real Scrabble board? Actually, there are thousands. Because of all of the crazy words allowed in the Scrabble dictionary, there's a theoretically possible way to play almost every possible 15-letter word. I did an in-depth analysis where I analyzed each of the possible words based on their letter frequency, and found that interpenetrated or interpenetrates is the easiest word to play, based just on letter frequency.

How to play interpenetrates or interpenetrated:
  • play IN
  • skip 3 letters and play PEN
  • skip 2 letters and play RATE
  • turn PEN--RATE into PENETRATE
  • add a D or an S for the glorious finish
Based on my mathematical analysis of Scrabble letter frequency, the following 15-letter words will be the easiest to play in Scrabble, out of about two thousand possible 15-letter words. Of course getting both wild tiles will help a lot. Because Scrabble has so many allowed crazy 2- and 3-letter words, you should be able to make all of these. For example, MO, LO, and RE are all allowed Scrabble words.

And the hardest 15-letter words to play in Scrabble, based on letter frequency are PSYCHOLOGICALLY and PSYCHOPATHOLOGY.

Image purchased from istockphoto


  1. ETHYLENEDIAMINETETRAACETATES is not accepted in scrabble and u said skip 2 spaces and play TET, its only one space

  2. Thanks for the correction! I fixed it to 'skip 1 space and play TET.'

    And, thanks for the info on ETHYLENEDIAMINETETRAACETATES and Scrabble. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Teaser : Organizer hands
    out 14 Scrabble tiles, 7 to user1 and 7 to user2. Organizer
    also takes one for her/him self. user1 and user2 each spell
    valid 7-letter words with their tiles. When Organizer
    looks at her/his tile, she/he realizes something quite
    interesting: If she/he puts her/his tile at the end of user1’s
    word, it makes a valid 8-letter word. If she/he puts it
    at the start of user2’s word, it makes another valid
    8-letter word. And when she/he places her/his tile right
    between the two words, it makes a valid 15-letter
    word! If one of user2’s letters is a G, what is this
    15-letter word?

  4. Excellent Scrabble quiz! Thanks! I found three. They all have two O's in succession, and end in "ing."


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