Words with (and without) Friends


My winter self is very different from my summer self. I spend way too much time in my pajamas, I lounge around the house in layers and hats, and I only leave the house to work. I stock up on puzzle and game books, and have to charge my phone twice a day because I play word games so much!  I can play word puzzles and connect-the-dot games for hours and not notice how much time has passed. I just bought a chaise lounge and set it up near a corner of windows in my house so I can soak up more vitamin D for the season.

My new addiction began when my husband and I upgraded phones. We treated ourselves for Christmas and have finally entered the Android world. We both downloaded the Words with Friends app (a Scrabble-like game where you can use slang words) and started playing against each other. Word spread and now we each play with a handful of friends! A pleasant bell tone rings alerting you when an opponent has played their turn. Some nights my husband and I get going with friends and are up way past our normal bedtime, trying to finish games.

When I first began playing Words with Friends, I tried to place the last of my tiles where there was a bit of room left. With some luck I scored winning points using obscure two-letter words. After winning games against my gym buddy with a triumphant triple-letter, triple-word score “qis” I was curious to see what that word meant. I consulted my trusty Merriam-Webster’s dictionary and discovered that it means a variant of the word “chi.” My two-letter vocabulary has grown as my winning record increases. Here are a few more of my favorite two-letter words to use for winning your next game:

fe: a symbol for iron

ka: a spirit entity that survives after death

mu: 12th letter of the Greek alphabet

pe: 17th letter of the Hebrew alphabet

xi: 14th letter of the Greek alphabet

xu: a monetary coin used in Vietnam

za: though I’ve never used this or heard it used, it’s supposedly American slang for pizza

Being on a word kick, I’ve been looking for books to read in storytime and during after school programs to instill a love of words to the future generation:


A reprint of a 1957 book, Sparkle and Spin by Ann Rand, is a delight for word lovers of any age. The old school illustrations are refreshing compared to some of the new computer-generated stories that are currently being published. This story is appropriate for youngsters ages 5-8 who will truly appreciate the characteristics of words, homonyms (hair and hare), and enjoy learning a new word “tintinnabulate.” (Don’t worry; I had to look it up, too. It means a “ring or sound like a small bell.”)


Lemony Snicket, author of A Series of Unfortunate Events, wrote a picture book called 13 Words. This quirky book introduces words such as “despondent,” “haberdashery,” and “panache” to young readers. If you’re ever looking for a challenging picture book for pre-readers, this is a great pick! Maria Kalman’s illustrations depict the surrealism outlined in the text. At the end of the story, all the kooky characters eat cake. What better way to end a story?

max's words

To compete with his brother’s coin and stamp collections, Max begins collecting words in Max’s Words by Kate Banks. He begins creating collages with the words and turns them into stories. Soon his brothers are participating and they’re creating adventures together.

Boy who loved words

The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter features Selig, an “oddball” boy who chooses to collect words, like Max, instead of playing sports like all the other boys in his class. This story features a fantastical element with Selig’s dreams playing a big role in the development of the story. This story also features the word “tintinnabulate.” Too bad that it’s too long to use in Words with Friends! One of my favorite parts of this book is the glossary in the end pages. It defines all the fancy italicized words in the book such as chockablock, djinn, and rucksack.

ralph can talk

The silly story of Lois Ehlert’s Rrralph features a dog who can talk. You can ask him questions and he’ll answer them. For example if you ask Ralph what’s on that tree he’ll tell you, “Bark!” If you ask him how the sidewalk feels on his paws, he’ll tell you, “Rough!” It’s a cute story that can be shared with all ages.


One book I needed help reading was called Wumbers by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. It’s a mix of words and numbers and the school age children love it! One two-page spread features an octopus with jewelry covering each tentacle. The text says, “Those sure are some orn8 10tacles.” Share this one with readers and they won’t stop laughing! It’s a shame I can’t use these words to cheat on my game with! Now that I have some ideas, I’m going to download a new game!

L words with friends

Lisa Shaia is the children’s librarian who just played “iodine” on a triple word score!

4 thoughts on “Words with (and without) Friends

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