Collins Scrabble Words
Collins Scrabble Words (CSW, formerly SOWPODS) is the word list used in English-language tournament Scrabble in most countries except the USA, Thailand and Canada. The term SOWPODS is an anagram of the two abbreviations OSPD (Official Scrabble Players Dictionary) and OSW (Official Scrabble Words), these being the original two official dictionaries used in various parts of the world at the time. Although the two source dictionaries have now changed their respective titles, the term SOWPODS is still used by tournament players to refer to the combination of the two sources. There has not been any actual hard-copy list produced called SOWPODS, although the current Collins Scrabble Words, or CSW, is in effect the full SOWPODS list by a different name.
Currently the two main sources for the words making up the combined list (generally known as Collins) are:
- The British words. Derived from two sources; the Collins English Dictionary and the Collins Corpus, and
- The American words. From the NASPA Word List, formerly Official Tournament and Club Word List, or TWL, derived from the Merriam-Webster's Dictionary and four other collegiate dictionaries. Latest version is NWL2018.
In 1980 in the United Kingdom, the Chambers Dictionary replaced the Shorter Oxford Dictionary as the official choice for arbitration of the British National Scrabble Championship. In 1988 for the first time a single list of all the valid words, without the ambiguity of discussing conjugations, declensions and plurals was published under the title Official Scrabble Words from Chambers (this would come to be known as OSW). North American Scrabble was using the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (OSPD), hence when the first World Scrabble Championship took place in 1991 words from either word source were allowed.
Over the following years there was disagreement in the competitive Scrabble community over the desirability of a combined word source, which came to be known as SOWPODS as an easily pronounced anagram of OSW and OSPD. Australia changed all its rated tournaments to using the SOWPODS word list in 1994, while the UK made the same change in 2001. This latter move coincided with the publication of the first official book to contain all words from OSW and OSPD (Chambers' Official Scrabble Words: International Edition).
In due course, Collins took over the publication of the official word list sanctioned by WESPA, and the current edition is CSW19.
In 2021, Mattel, the toy company based in the United States, stated their intentions to not only remove hundreds of slur words from the word list, but also to remove alternative definitions which could be regarded as slurs from other words in the corpus. See the press release from Ray Adler, Vice President, Global Head of Games, Mattel. https://corporate.mattel.com/news/mattel-updates-scrabbles-list-of-playable-words
They believe they can do so because of their licensing arrangement with Collins. Mattel owns the trademark for Scrabble in most of the world (but not the United States or Canada).
As yet there has been no list of deletions.
Up until 2021, there had been extensive consultation between Collins and WESPA, but there was no consultation about the deletions. Although some players can see some merit in the good intentions behind this move, there is an upswell of anger at how this is being done, and a belief that there is no sensible way to do it. Players will be confused because it is hard to know whether a word is regarded as a slur, and there are many words which they had never thought of as a slur. Some press reporting has mistakenly assumed that the cull will go further to remove vulgar words.