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This page discusses how many of the words in the Collins lexicon seem obscure to OTCWL players, and is part of our introduction to Collins (SOWPODS) in North America. For brevity, we will refer to the North American and International lexica, OTCWL16 and CSW15, as TWL and CSW respectively.
The short answer is mostly not, at least no more obscure than already makes up the majority of the TWL.
One must be careful to avoid a biased viewpoint, because when viewing the words that are CSW-only, one is not viewing the CSW itself, but just that part of it that contains the words not in the TWL. These are bound to be somewhat obscure, because if they were common everyday words widely used in English they would already be in the TWL.
Breaking down the list of CSW-only words into categories by meaning shows that a significant majority of the new words to be added are further examples of the kinds of words that already make up the TWL, such as animals, currency, minerals, and so on. Because the Scrabble lexica (both TWL and CSW) are based on single-volume abridged dictionaries, and not the full unabridged versions, such as Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, or the Oxford English Dictionary, they in fact really contain only a small fraction of the totality of English words. It is thus not surprising they that do not entirely overlap.
There are some differences: CSW has more obsolete and archaic words. They are not unique to CSW (TWL has perhaps 1,000 already), but there are certainly more. There are also more dialect words, particularly Scots, a result of the word source prior to Collins, The Chambers Dictionary, being based in Scotland, and its words being incorporated into the Collins Corpus. There are also significant numbers of words from countries where English is common, such as Australia, South Africa, and India. Ultimately, the ideal content of a word list is somewhat subjective.
The following list shows CSW-only words broken down into categories to show that a significant fraction are parts of categories that would not seem unreasonable to include in a word list, such as animals, food, and so on.
|Number of Words|
|Other -ier -iest adjective||154|
Aside from this list, an excellent resource for further lists of words by categories is at the Association of British Scrabble Players website under their Words section. These lists, compiled by David Sutton, cover the full range of CSW words from 2-15 letters, with useful one-line definitions throughout.
The lists mark words new to CSW15 versus the previous edition, CSW12, but there is no differentiation between CSW and TWL words.
Please direct comments about this page to its author, Nick Ball.