To Scrabble fanatics, big gifts sometimes come in small packages.
The word "te" as a variant of "ti," the seventh tone on the musical scale, is a hardworking little gem among 5,000 words added to The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, out Aug. 11 from Merriam-Webster.
The dictionary's last freshening up was a decade ago. Entries in the forthcoming book also include "texter," "vlog," "bromance," "hashtag," "dubstep" and "selfie."
But it's the addition of "te" and three other two-letter words — "da," "gi" and "po" — that has Robin Pollock Daniel excited. Daniel, a clinical psychologist in Toronto, is a champion of the North American Scrabble Players Association.
"Being able to hook an 'E' underneath 'T' means that I can play far more words," said Daniel, who practices Scrabble two to four hours a day. "Sometimes you play parallel to a word and you're making two-letter words along the way. I call those the amino acids of Scrabble. The more two-letter words we have, the more possibilities a word will fit."
One woman's "te" is another man's "qajaq," one of Peter Sokolowski's favorites among the new words. He's a lexicographer and editor at large for Merriam-Webster, which is based in Springfield, Mass.
"Qajaq," he said in a recent interview with Daniel, reflects the Inuit roots of kayak and would require a blank tile since Scrabble sets include just one "Q." But it's a rare word starting with "Q" that doesn't require a "U."
The new words add about 40 pages to the dictionary, which already lists more than 100,000. Merriam-Webster didn't identify all 5,000 new words but released a list of about 30.