OSPD2

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OSPD2, the second edition of the Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary, took effect as the official tournament lexicon in 1990.

In 2010, Dan Pratt posted the following article about the history of this edition to CGP.

Historical Notes on OSPD2

This article surveys the entries added in 1990 to form OSPD2 that are not found in any of the four sources today. It serves to further refute the claim that OSPD words are found in at least two sources and the claim that the New World dictionary had any effect on OSPD1. It also refutes the notion that OSPD2 additions came from only two (Merriam and New World) of the four college dictionaries available in the 1980s. As is well known, the additions were based on lists compiled by Joe Leonard of Philadelphia.

Let’s start with about sixty entries from the 2nd edition of the American Heritage, published in 1981 and hence not available for OSPD1 in 1978. A now infamous example is Knesset (capitalized in all other editions); another is MIDCULT (capitalized in the 1st and omitted in the 3rd). A half dozen are pesticides. There are several obscure anatomical parts, such as FALX, CHOANA, MONAXON, and BOTHRIUM, and other technical terms: ABAPICAL, ABRACHIA, ABROSIA, AGRAVIC, AGRIA ... it seems as if some lexicographer was pretty gung-ho at the start of the alphabet.

Three coins present unusual situations. CORY is spelled CAURI* on Guinean coins. In fact, CAURI* was in the Merriam Collegiate and on Joe’s list, but Merriam rejected it for OSPD2 because the currency had changed to francs (even though OSPD has many obsolete coins). (The New World, 2nd edition, had KORI* for this coin. KORI* is also the name of an African bustard, on exhibit at the National Zoo, if you will pardon a Hahnian moment. HAHNIUM, by the way, is not the name of any element on the periodic table. The latest, #112, is COPERNICIUM* (obsoleting UNUNBIUM), with the symbol Cn, as Cp was proposed for CASSIOPEIUM# by the German discoverer, but the element was named LUTECIUM in 1909 by a committee one of whose members was the Frenchman who independently discovered it and named it after Lutece, the French version of the ancient name of Paris, Lutetia; in 1949, the spelling was changed to LUTETIUM. The American who also independently discovered this element just made more of it.) ... CHAO is what is known elsewhere as HAO. ... For LAREE, on Maldivian coins, only LAARI is found (LARI is money in Georgia). However, until 1972, LAREE could be found on Maldivian stamps. Afterwards, only the abbreviation L appears; stamps and coins worth less than a rufiyaa have since become rare. English language stamp catalogs therefore still use the spelling LAREE (and they use CAURY* for the Guinean unit!).

OSPD1 used the Random House edition of 1975. There was no new edition until the year after OSPD2. Joe Leonard used the 1980 printing, which contained two entries (PLEXAL and YOK) not available in 1975. (There may be more, still found in at least one current dictionary.) Possibly there was a slight miscommunication between Joe and a lexicographer at Merriam, as Joe got the idea that no new words at all were being added to Random House, but scanning a later printing would have yielded very few items not found elsewhere. Joe found at least two dozen entries that were already in the 1975 printing but not noted for OSPD1. At most two of the American Heritage additions were available but overlooked (PLUVIAN is one; ROSINOL was not in boldface). One hypothesis is that whoever scanned Heritage was more accurate than whoever scanned Random. Another is that the typography in Heritage is relatively crisp, while that in Random is dizzying. At least one additional hypothesis is worth thinking about on your own. AL is one of the two dozen. Not counted is PETSAI, which was cross-referenced to chinese [sic] cabbage; at the entry for Chinese cabbage the usual spelling pe-tsai is found, so the compilers of OSPD1 may have ignored it on purpose, and there are a few additional similar cases, such as: the plurals of ANTIDORON and UNGUENTUM, found only in Merriam’s Unabridged; ASKOS and BUZUKI are not found in alphabetical order; VANITORY was a trademark.

If you’ve read this far, thank you — I’ve made the main points. But we might as well survey items contributed by the other two sources that are no longer in current dictionaries.

The 3rd edition of New World was used for OSPD2. Joe had scanned a printing of the 2nd edition as well, but Merriam rejected words (like KORI*) found only there. It is alleged that a 1970 printing of the 2nd edition influenced OSPD1, but that is not true. Seven entries in the 3rd edition were even found in the 1st edition of this dictionary, and the majority of the roughly forty OSPD2 additions from the 3rd edition were already in the 1970 printing of the 2nd. (Remember, only additions not found in the current, 4th, edition are under consideration -- New World has a fairly lethargic approach to lexicography and there are many OSPD words found only in various New World dictionaries as far back as OSPD2.) Most of the forty are words that have by now settled on different spellings, such as TSORRISS. Six are now marked as foreign words. UPBOW is written with a syllable dot, but a hyphen is found in earlier and later printings and all other sources. KHET, KHAPH, and DALEDH form a mini-set. At the search engine bing.com, DALEDH recently generated only 111 hits, almost all of them Scrabble sites. DALETH gets 65000 hits, DALED# 94700, and DALET* 235000 (though by no means all are related to the Hebrew letter).

Merriam likewise made about forty contributions of the sort being considered. EKPWELE, LEKU, ZLOTE, and ZLOTYCH form a set. Five are items like SCALEUP now spelled differently. Most of the rest are from undefined prefix lists, like REREMIND, OUTCOUNT, or UNBOUNCY.

Of the 160 or so words under consideration, only EKPWELE BANKCARD PEROXY DEORBIT YOK were found in two sources. Those of you who think that OSPD is based on words from two sources are mistaken, but such an approach would have a lot of merit. Tournament Scrabble existed for about two decades before OSPD2 appeared, and I would guess that of the items we have considered, including those not shown explicitly, none (including AL) was missed, with the possible exception of NAMETAG (of whose anagrams there’s at least one that I can find much more easily).