How can I improve my vocabular for Boggle-playing purposes?
September 20, 2012 11:05 PM   Subscribe

How can I improve my vocabulary for Boggle-playing purposes?

I've run into a wall where my score hasn't improved in awhile because I didn't know most of the words on the board existed. I find the ones I know then guess at possible words until the time is up. How can I improve this?

I've tried doing dictionary things like "word of the day" and tried going over the list of words I missed and remembering them but I don't seem to remember words well outside of context.

posted by biochemist to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You want to look through scrabble dictionaries for unusual three and four letter words, instead of the longer words that tend to be in word of the day type things. Here are a bunch of useful three letter words.
posted by Garm at 11:11 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

text twist. i'm not even foolin'. all of my word game skills got better the more i played text twist. a combination of timed and untimed seemed to have the best results. there are some free online versions, but i don't know how those are. i bought it years and years ago and i just keep emailing it to myself on new computers.
posted by nadawi at 11:14 PM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

posted by miss tea at 3:17 AM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Two parts:

1. This doesn't help in the learning new words department, but I find that part of the challenge of Boggle (for me) is not just knowing enough words, but also being able to find and recognize them as well.

What I used to do as a bored kid (pre-internet) was just constantly scramble the box of letter cubes and write as many words down as I could find. Even if I wasn't always sure they were words, it was the mental exercise and training myself how to quickly find words that helped.

2. Now, as far as learning longer words that are likely to turn up in Boggle situations, you want to follow nadawi's and miss tea's advice. The best thing to do is to play a Boggle clone that shows you the words you missed, whether the game itself supplies a list of all available words or just shows you other people's words. That's helped me considerably.

WEBoggle is another free online Boggle clone. WEBoggle's main page shows the last 4x4 grid played and words found (each word is also linked to the internal site dictionary if you need it), so it's helpful for providing word lists for memorization.

I also like an Android app called Word Weasel. It uses a 3x3 grid and it's ridiculously fast paced but it helps with rote memorization.
posted by i feel possessed at 5:06 AM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

The people in my boggle group who really kill it aren't the vocab people --we're all walking dictionaries!-- but the people who can really leverage the morphemes: Pre-fixes & suffixes plus all those little recombinant parts of words. Because ultimately the scoring is based on how _long_ your word is. Ss & ERs & REs are great, but that's really only the start of how you can pile on. [I'd tell you more about it, but as has been proved again & again & again, I'm not good at it. Wish I had some great examples for you.]
posted by Ys at 5:31 AM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

I totally agree with Ys. It feels great to find those really long words, but I've found that the key to high scoring is to be obsessively systematic. When you spot a juicy suffix--NESS, TION, ABLE, etc--it's worth focusing on it for a while before hunting exotic stuff.

Also, especially if you play with the same group all the time, you'll keep coming across the same three and four letter words over and over again. (Often these are rarely-used or archaic words you weren't even sure were real, but somebody tried it once, got challenged, and luckily found it in the dictionary.) Now everyone in your group has seen them so often that they practically jump out of the board, and you know if you don't write it down someone else will.
posted by Fred Mars at 6:02 AM on September 21, 2012

I too want to second (third?) Ys! I'm an uber geek and I used to just jumble up the cubes and try to find as many words as possible w/o a timer.
Look for the phonemes (ing, tion, ation, action, etc.) and build on those.
Also look for things that look like words, even if you are not sure they are a word. Follow the basic rules of english (vowel-consonant-e for example) and then google to see if they are words.

Other games that have helped me build these muscles are the pen and paper "here is a long word, now find all of the possible words using those letters". While word scrambles don't have the limitation of letters touching each other, it helps you see words.

I also grew up liking the pen and paper games where they give you one word, x steps and a final word. My partner and I play scrabble slam and enjoy it. Since I'm visually impaired and she has dyslexia, we skip the slam part and take turns. It is another way to work the muscles of recognizing words from letters. It is not unusual for us to go, hmm is this a word? and then google it :)
posted by Librarygeek at 6:11 AM on September 21, 2012

Play Scramble with Friends on your smartphone (if you have one, online if you don't) against random opponents. Play it a lot. Review what your opponents get for words and try to train yourself to look in similar ways. Do what Ys suggests, look for the suffixes and prefixes. You don't get as many points for short words as you do for longer ones. This kind of forces you to look for longer, more complex words. When I was reviewing the found words list that my opponents found, I noticed that I rarely find words beginning with a vowel, for example, and now when I'm feeling low in points I re-look with that in mind. I managed to increase my score significantly in the past few months (and I was terrible before) by doing the suffix/prefix thing, the vowel thing, and looking for other similar words (like when I find BOUNDING I look for other possibilities like POUNDING and SOUNDING, etc.)

Scramble's points system is different than Boggle's, so when you play it a lot you tend to focus on words using the higher point letters (Q, J, Z, P, etc., just like in Words with Friends), so I now know a LOT of those words. But you can apply it to Boggle just as easily.

TL/DR: It's better to play against someone rather than just yourself, so you can see how they play and pick up tips.
posted by clone boulevard at 7:39 AM on September 21, 2012

Being good at boggle is not about vocabulary first and foremost. Prefixes & suffixes & other morphemes (is that the word?) are important, but the main thing is to just see the letters in front of you and notice what patterns, word-parts, & whatever are sitting there. When you recognize anything slightly familiar, what does it remind you of? The words have to jump out at you, and you have to let them, because you don't have time to reference your vocabulary as such. So look outward - dont think about "words" - and notice the particular qualities of the board in front of you.

That's how you deal with the quantity of words aspect.

Unique words are of course important, and to become familiar (not memorize) with more obscure words you must be interested in and curious about words for their own sake. I picked up "teiid" from another player. Fascinating word in that it has an i next to another. I looked it up and apparently it's a type of Central Anerican lizard or something. Follow your curiosity.

And if you're ever staring blankly at a board and see nothing, just start connecting letters. Wander with your eyes, loop around, make shapes, eventually (usually) you'll see words appear.

I consider myself to be good at Boggle. When I used to play WordPlay on the iPhone I was consistently in the top 10 (there were then about 1k players) by skill rank on the 5x5 board... and, lemme check ... apparently jizzle is still in the top 15 without playing much if at all in the past year.
posted by univac at 5:27 AM on September 23, 2012

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