Strewth! Scrabble gets a makeover Down Under as Australia gets first slang edition

Peter Vincent
Aussie Scrabble - Paul Grover for the Telegraph

A new version of the favourite family word game Scrabble has been launched in Australia with a glossary that allows local colloquialisms such as "cozzie", "flanno" and "schnitty" to be played legally.

The new version even awards bonus points for the placing of an Australianism.

If you are a Scrabble purist, and feel a conniption coming on, might we suggest not wasting your "arvo" being a "wowser" over the change - because it only applies to limited edition Scrabble sets sold in Australia.

To avoid any chance of a "biffo", the Australian Scrabble Players’ Association was consulted over the new version. Scrabble’s rule-makers update its word bank every three years or so, based on changes to the Collins dictionary.

In 2015 new  additions included "lolz", "bezzy" (best friend) and "shootie" (a shoe which covers the ankle).

Australian slang v English slang

The Australian version – which is believed to be the first country-specific Scrabble – comes after David Eldar, a 27 year old from Melbourne, who works as an estate agent in London, beat Sri Lankan-born Harshan Lamabadusurilya to win Scrabble’s World Championships.

Mattel’s Australian marketing manager, Jacinta Whitehead, said her favourite local slang addition is "biffo", which would earn you 23 points, including the bonus.

“Only Aussies can make a fight sound friendly,” said Ms Whitehead. The top-scoring Australian slang word is "prezzy", which would have most players licking their lips, especially as a single conventional Scrabble set contains only one "z".

The word is worth a princely 39 points – although that would be magnified if it were placed on a double or triple word score.

The 250 new words were chosen after a social media campaign which encouraged 20,000 local followers and fans of the game to suggest their favourite Australian slang. 

The most popular made the new version of the game, which was launched in Australia yesterday/Thurs, in conjunction with Jetstar. The budget airline will also have the game available for passengers.

“A lot of filtering was required as there are a lot of alcohol and gaming references in Australian slang,” said Whitehead. The Australian version also includes "strewth cards", with which players pick up extra tiles for an extended play.

If you did get tricked into a game of Aussie Scrabble while on holiday Down Under, chances are you would stand a fair chance. Many of the new words featured are used across the English-speaking world, such as "moolah", "sickie", "lippy", "wuss" and "stonkered".

Australianisms can now earn points in Scrabble Credit: Paul Grover /Telegraph

Furthermore, classic Australian words like: ‘Gday’, ‘strewth’, ‘footy’, ‘ocker’ and ‘barbie’ won’t trouble most players While most new entries can be easily deciphered – such as ‘prezzy’, ‘footy’, ‘straya’ - some of the lingo might confuse.

For instance ‘ekka’ refers to the annual Brisbane show, ‘devo’ is a shortened version of devastated and a ‘flanno’ is a woven shirt. An ‘ambo’ is an Australian ambulance driver, a ‘uey’ is a U-turn and ‘salvos’ is local slang for the Protestant Christian church and global charity The Salvation Army.

Similarly ‘vinnies’ refers to St Vincent de Paul, the Catholic voluntary organisation. It is believed to be the first time a country-specific version of Scrabble has been produced in the game’s 69-year history.

It was originally conceived by an out-of-work New York architect, Alfred Mosher Butts, in 1948. Collins, who produced the list which governs which words can be used in the game, is planning to update it again in the next couple of years.

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