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What game's name means "grope frantically" in English?

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Answer: Scrabble

Here's a brief history of the game Scrabble written by journalist, historian (and MooT player) Chuck Davis:

"It was Alfred Mosher Butts' fondness for anagrams that inspired him to create Scrabble. Butts was an architect who found himself out of work during the Depression. He'd always enjoyed board games, so he decided to create one of his own.

It was 1931. He came up with a game that combined the vocabulary skills of crossword puzzles and anagrams with the additional element of chance. He called it Lexico at first, but eventually changed that to Criss-Cross Words. It wasn't until 1948, though - 17 years after his initial idea - that the modern game of Scrabble was born.

Butts got help from a fellow games enthusiast, who rearranged the premium squares and simplified the rules. To work out the frequency of the letters players would use, Butts took a copy of the New York Times and very carefully counted out how often each of the 26 letters of the alphabet appeared on the front page. With some modifications (the h and the s cited earlier, maybe others we don't know about) Butts' ratio of letters, and the value he gave each letter, have been unchanged for more than 50 years, and through billions of games....

It wasn't until he met up with another word game enthusiast, a fellow named James Brunot, that Butts' game took off. They changed the name of the game to Scrabble, a real word that means to "grope frantically," and began trying to sell the game to major game manufacturers.

It was 1948, the official starting date for the commercial version of the game, and 17 years after Butts' first rough shaping of the idea. That 1948 beginning was rather modest: the partners found an abandoned schoolhouse in Dodgington, Connecticut and began to turn out 12 games an hour. The letters were stamped on wooden tiles one at a time.

The first four years were hard work. In 1949 the little company made 2,400 sets and lost $450. But they kept plugging away. Then, in the early 1950s, the president of Macy's (the huge New York department store) discovered the game while he was on vacation, and ordered some for his store. That's all it took."

In addition to writing about language, Chuck Davis is fond of digging into the history of Vancouver (the home of the MooT player and the land of the Frisbee). Check out his website at:


As far as Vancouver being the home of the Frisbee, you'll have to change that to flying disc since (1) frisbee players were not successful in their legal quest to free up the term frisbee as a generic and (2) no disc-sports enthusiasts actually call the said item a frisbee, anyway. (This, by the way, is a natural development, not political correctness.) If you do call it a frisbee, however, be aware that you are helping line Wham-o's pockets.

[Mootguy: But this site is funded by Wham-0.]
jacko at &

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