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Euouae

3 Jun 2016

Chances are that if you like words, you’ll like Scrabble. It’s just so much fun, isn’t it? Waiting the entire game for the letter Q to come up so you can play jonquils and score 500 points, only for your opponent to get it first and play qi on a triple word square and score 501. So. Much. FUN.

 

Scrabble-related facts crop up on the HH Twitter feed every so often (and there’s a darn sight more where that came from in the fact book, Word Drops):

And it’s Scrabble that’s the focus of this week’s HH YouTube video—10 indispensably useful Scrabble words, from aa to oxyphenbutazone. Good luck slipping that one into your next game...

 

 

One fiendishly useful Scrabble word that didn’t make the final cut here however is euouae. According to the Guinness Book of Records, that’s the longest vowel-only word in the English language, and is well worth remembering if you’re looking to ditch a superfluity of vowels midway through a game. That being said, there’s some contention over whether or not euouae should actually be permissible in Scrabble play—not to mention whether or not it’s actually a word or not.

 

The word euouae (pronounced “you-oo-ee”) is an abbreviation used to memorize the pattern of syllables forming the cadence of a Gregorian chant known as the Gloria Patri, “Glory Be to the Father”. The Gloria Patri ends with the line, “In saecula saeculorum, Amen”, literally meaning “in a century of centuries”, or “forever and ever”. Euouae refers to the pattern of tones corresponding to the last six syllables of this line: saEcUlOrUm AmEn.

 

So strictly speaking, euouae is an abbreviation of a Latin phrase used as a mnemonic device. Does that make it a “word” in the strictest (Scrabble-playing) sense? It’s a tough call, and it’s certainly true that not every dictionary—and not every Scrabble word-list, for that matter—has admitted it to its pages thus far. 


But when you’re sat in front of a rack of seven vowels, you’ve really got to take what you can get…

 

 

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