Are place names allowed in Scrabble?

Cities and countries, regions and islands in Scrabble

The rules of the game in Scrabble do not allow geographical names and that is a good thing. If every small place name, every river and mountain range were to be valid worldwide, one would need a reference work of a completely different caliber than the German spelling dudes.

Why geographical names are not allowed

That is why you cannot even use such banal words as AFRICA *, ASIA *, but also VENUS * and NEPTUNE *. Geographical terms are considered names and proper names, and they are invalid. Names may only be used if they have an overarching meaning beyond the designation of a person or an object.

For example, in addition to the well-known Julius Caesar, CAESAR is also a Roman title, and BENJAMIN denotes the youngest child in the family. The simplest basic rule for deciding on the validity is: If there are more than one of them, it is valid.

This rule also applies to borderline cases such as TRIANON and POUFER. TRIANON is the name of two pleasure palaces, and the PO has several SHORES, so both are plural. The names of the inhabitants of cities, countries and the names of various religious and political groups are just as plural. So geography and ethnology find their way into the official word list.

The importance of the dude

However, the selection is limited by the framework set by the current spelling dictionary. The entries in the Duden are not based on geographical, ethnological and historical research, but on the frequency in German usage. For this purpose, the Duden editorial team maintains the so-called Duden corpus, a large database. However, there is no comprehensible logic as to what is in the spelling dictionary and what is not. This is a challenge in tournament scrabble: you have to memorize which words are valid.

People groups in Scrabble or not

I took a closer look at the entries of different population groups. In doing so, the boundary between valid and invalid words could be experienced. There are many names of peoples and cultures that are either completely absent or that are only contained in one of different spellings. In some cases I will point out the missing words.

Some scrabblers are reluctant to look at invalid words because it can happen that this word is remembered and saved as valid. However, others will very much appreciate the added value of geographical knowledge. So that you get the maximum benefit from the valid and invalid words, I have added legible anagrams in brackets for all words. As usual, the invalid words are marked with an ASTERIX *. (It's called ASTERISK.)

In this article I limit myself to the inhabitants of cities, countries, regions and islands of the present. The Duden also contains many names of ethnic, political and religious groups, names of professions and social structures and the names of peoples, tribes and cultures of the past, which I will then describe in a separate article.

In the age of equality, the feminine form of most names for people can also be formed with -IN. But here, too, the dictionary is not constant. I point out some missing feminine forms.

City dwellers in Germany and worldwide

It makes sense to restrict the words considered. Up to 15-letter words can fit on the board, but words with nine to 15 letters are comparatively very rare. The longer, the less often the word occurs. The statistical frequency distribution in bingo is as follows:

  • 7-letter bingos: 30%,
  • 8-letter bingos: 67%,
  • 9-letter bingos: 2.9%,
  • 10-15 letter bingos: 0.2%

 
I have therefore essentially limited myself to the words up to nine letters, if the geographical interest did not prevail. Please keep in mind that the overly long words in the game are irrelevant.

In summary, I can say that the inhabitants of cities, countries and so on is an excellent and useful category of Scrabble words, as they are often the only solution to a bingo and, due to their exoticism, they often provoke doubt. In the last tournament in Nuremberg I was able to put BELIZERN and promptly received ten extra points.

A look at Germany

But let's first see which cities in the individual German federal states are included.

Words from Brandenburg and Berlin

POTSDAMER, COTTBUSER, TELTOWER, LEBUSER, BERLINER, MOABITER

An anagram worth mentioning: LEBUSERIN - NEUSILBER:

The example of Lebus shows that the size of a city is not the only admission criterion. Lebus has just 3000 inhabitants.

We are looking in vain for the BERNAUER *, the GUBENER * and the BARNIMER *.

Which words can you put with the above three phones?


BROWNER - BUILDING - URBANERE
BEND
BARMERIN (Barmen is a district of Wuppertal)

Words from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

PUTBUSER
WISMARER
RUSTOCKER
RÜGENER (GREENER - GREEN)

The following are invalid:

GÜSTROWER *
PARCHIMER *
WARENER *
USEDOMER *

This is how it looks with Saxony-Anhalt

DESSAUER (DESSAUERIN - TRAVELING)
HALLER or HALLENSER
KÖTHENER (HÖKERTEN)
NAUMBURGER
TIME
Shattered (shattered)

Invalid is the STENDALER * (EMPTY - AGING - LASTENDER)
There is HARZER (Harz district), but what is meant is cheese.

That's what the Duden says about Thuringia

ERFURTER (PLEASED, ERFURTERIN-FURNIERTER)
GOTHAER
JENAER
THENENSER
WEIMARER
SCHLEIZER (SCHLEIZER - TARGETED - TARGETED)

The following are invalid:

GERAER *
GREIZER *
SUHLER *
APOLDAER *
ILMENAUER *

And that works in Saxony

DRESDNER (DRESDNERIN - Cattle)
MEISSNER (RIMESSEN)
PLAUENER
LEIPZIGER
TORGAUER
ZWICKAUER

Invalid residents of district towns:

BAUTZNER * (USABLE)
BORNAER *
FREITALER *
GÖRLITZER *
PIRNAER *

A look at Schleswig Holstein and Hamburg

HUSUMER
ITZEHOER
KIELER (KEILER - KLIERE)
LÜBECKER
HAMBURGER
HANSEAT
LABORATORY (BOREAL LABORATORY)

There are also some invalid ones here:

PLÖNER *
EUTINER * (UNIERTE - LOWER ANIMALS - UTERINE)
WEDELER *
REINBEKER * (KIEBERERN)

And that works in Lower Saxony

BREMER
CELLER
HAMELER (LAKE-LAME)
JEVERAN
UELZENER
UELZER
VECHTAER (VERACHTE)
GÖTTINGER
VERDENER (REVEREND, VERDENERIN - EARNERS)
EMDENER (EMDENERIN - ENDREIMEN - MYENDER - RHYMING9)

The following cannot be laid:

GOSLARER * (ARGLOSER)
GIFHORNER *
PEINER * (PIER, PRICE)
HARBURGER *
EMS COUNTRIES * (NOISE)
AURICHER *
GARBSENER * (DIGGING, ERGRABNES)
LINGENER * (RAILING)
MELLER *

The STADER is only valid as an increase in the adjective STAD, the STADERIN * (anagram: DRAINEST) is not included.

Hessen with four words

FULDAER
KASSELER (CLASSER)
MARBURGER
LIMBURGER

Unknown to the Duden:

GIESSENER * (poured, connoisseur, cracked)
HANAUER *
WETZLARER *
RODGAUER *
MAINTALER *
LANGENER * (ANGERN, ERLANGEN, PRAWNS)

Much more in North Rhine Westphalia

AACHENER
BOCHUMER
BONNER (BORNEN)
ESSENER (ESSENERIN - SIENESERN)
KÖLNER (KERNÖL, LÖRKEN)
KLEVER (KLEVERIN - LINK)
NEUSSER (REUSSEN - OUR, NEUSSERIN - OUR ONE)
MINDENER (MINDER)
SOLINGER (RIGOLENS)
SOESTER (STEREOS)
XANTENERS (TEXANS)
KREFELDER
ALTENAER
MÜNSTERAN

The following are invalid:

CHALLENGE *
DETMOLDER *
HÖXTER *
OLPER *
UNNAER * (RAUNEN) or UNNERANER *
WESELER *
BORKENER * (KRONERBE)
DÜRENER * (OOWS)
HAGENER * (HAGEREN - RANGEHE)
HERNER * (MEN)
LIPPER * (RIPPEL- RIPPLE)
VIERSENER * (VISITING - SERVING - TRAVELING)
BOTTROPER *

The HAMMER is also valid, but probably only as the tool, since the HAMMERIN * cannot be laid down. It is particularly noticeable here in North Rhine-Westphalia that a number of larger cities are missing, for example Herne has 156,000 inhabitants.

There is a lot going on in Baden-Württemberg

BADENER (AGAINST, BADENERIN - RECEIVE)
BADENSER (SENDER, BADENERS)
CALWER
TÜBINGER (BRÜTIGEN, GRÜBT)
ULMER (LEMUR)
RESTATTER (TARTRATES)
SINGENER (GERINNES - GREINENS - GRIENENS, SINGENERIN - GREISINNEN - SINNIGEREN)

Invalid:

LÖRRACHER *
AALENER * (AREAS)
LAHRER *
KEHLER * (KREHLE)
BALINGER *
BUHLER * (BLOOM)
LEIMENER * (MELIEREN)

All these invalid cities have more inhabitants than CALW, and of course we are particularly pleased about the CALWER.
The WEILER is again valid, but not as a resident of Weil, as the WEILERIN *
does not work. You should have laid WIENERLI.

This is what the Duden says about words from the Saarland

The small Saarland does not have a single valid resident name up to nine letters.

The following are invalid:
MERZIGER *
HOMBURGER *
ILLINGER * (RILLIGEN)
OTTWEILER * (INTRODUCTION)
LEBACHER *

This is how it looks with Bavaria

MUNICH
PASSAUER (OUTPUT)
FRANKE / FRÄNKIN
SCHWABE (BEWACHS) / SCHWÄBIN
ERLANGER (LARGEREN)
BAMBERGER
ALLGÄUER

You cannot put these words:

FÜRTHER * (EXPERIENCED)
COBURGER *
KRONACHER *
HOFER * (MERRY)
ANSBACHER *
ROTHER * (RETHOR)
CHAMER * (CHARM, MAKER, MARCHE)
KELHEIMER * (DICTIOUS)
ERDINGER * (GIRRENDE, NEGRIDER)
ROOF *
DILLINGER * (TRIPLES)
LINDAUER * (DIURNALE)
WEIDENER *

Thinking outside the box: What about outside of Germany

A look at Switzerland

The names for residents of Swiss cantons are also very productive: As far as Scrabble-compatible, they all contain:

AARGAUER
APPENZELLER
BASELER (READABLE - READER, BASELERIN - READER)
BASLER (READABLE, BASLERIN - BRAZIL)
BERNER
ALLIES
GENEVA (FEGERN - FERGEN)
GLARNER
LUCERNE
OLTENER
OLTNER
SCHWYZER (the SCHWYZERIN * is invalid!)
URNER
TICINO (ERROR - ENTRISSE - PURE - TRAVELING - BULL) (the TICINO * is invalid)
VALAIS
ZUGER (ZUGERIN - IRRITATION)
ZURCHER
ZURICHER
OBWALDNER (BALDOWERN)
NIDWALDNER
SOLOTHURNER
THURGAUER
VADDLANDS
NEUENBURGER
JURASSIER
SCHAFFHAUSER (OUT)

Other valid cities and municipalities in Switzerland:

AROSER (ROSAER, AROSERIN - ORANIERS - ROSARIEN)
DAVOSER (VADOSER)
LOCARNER
LUGANS (HORRIES)

But the following are invalid:

CHURER *
ALTDORFER *
SARNER * (RASERN)
STANSER * (RASTENS, TRASSEN)
LIESTALER *
AARAUER *
SITTENER *
BIELER * (LEIBER, LIEBER, RIEBEL)
THUNER * (HUNTER, HURTEN, REST, CHEST)
KÖNIZER *
HERISAUER * (HAUSIERER)

And off to Austria

Some residents of Austrian federal states are:

CARINTHIAN
TYROLEANS
STEIRER (STEIRERIN - ADVERTISED)

Austrian city dwellers:

WIENER (VIENNA)
GRAZER (GRAZERIN - RANZIGER - CIGARS
LINZER
VILLACHER
AUSSEER (SAUERES, AUSSEERIN - AUSREISEN)
MONDSEER (MODERNES - MORSENDE - MOSERNDE)
MONSEER (ENORMES - SERMONE) (MONSEERIN * is invalid)
BREGENZER (LIMITER)

You can also place the ÖTZTALER, presumably because the ÖTZI was found in the Ötztal Alps, which can also be placed. ÖTZI is the name of the well-known mummy, but it is also used jokingly as a general term for mummified prehistoric people.

WELSER *, STEYRER *, and of course many smaller cities are invalid.

Beyond the German-speaking countries

In addition to the residents of German-speaking countries, we also find a large number of residents from countries, cities and landscapes around the world in the Duden.

First, let's look at the inhabitants of the countries of Europe:

ALBAN, ANDORRAN, BELGIAN, BOSNIAN and HERZEGOVINER, BULGARIAN, DENN, GERMAN, ESTON, FINN, FRENCH, GREEK, IRISH, NORTHERN IRISH, ICELAND, ITALIAN, KAZAKH, COSOVARIAN, CROATIAN, LETTEN, MISSAN, MISSAN, MISSAN MONEGASSES, MONTENEGRINERS, NETHERLANDS, MACEDONIAN, NORWEGIAN, AUSTRIAN, POLAND, PORTUGUESE, ROMANIAN, RUSSIAN, SWEDEN, SWISS, SERBIAN, SLOVAK, SLOVEN, SPANISH, CZECH REPUBLIC, TURKISH, BRANISH, UNITED KINGDOM, UKRAINES

Only the SAN-MARINESEN * and the residents of the Vatican have no valid designation in Scrabble.

What about the residents of European cities?

The following are valid: BRUSSELS (or BRUSSELS), SOFIAER, SOFIOTER, COPENHAGENER, BERLINER, PARIS, ATHENS, RÖMER, ZAGREBER, RIGAER, AMSTERDAMER, OSLOER, WIENER, WARSCHAUER, LISBONNER, BUCHARESTER, ST, MOSCOW MADRILEN), PRAGERS, KIEVER, BUDAPESTER, AND LONDON

Many others are invalid or unknown:

TIRAN (A) ER *, SARAJEVOER *, TALLINNER *, HELSINKIER *, DUBLINER *, VADUZER *, VILNIUSER *, SKOPJER *, MINSKER *, etc.

Apparently only the residents of cities in foreign countries receive a German name that has a certain degree of relevance for the German population. The simple formation of a resident designation in –ER also seems to play a role. Instead of LJUBLJAN (A) ER * or BRATISLAV (A) ER * one would say rather "residents of Ljubljana or Bratislava."

Other valid city dwellers in Europe

In France:

COLMAR, ELSATER, LYON, LYONESE, NICE, ORLEAN, PARIS, REIMSER, VENDEER, STRASBOURG,

In Italy:

BOZNER (BOZNERIN-ZINNOBER), CAPRESE / CAPRESIN, CARRARER (CARRARERIN * is invalid), GENUESE (GENUESIN - GENUINES), MODENAER, NEAPELER, NEAPLER (NEAPLERIN - PLANE)
PADUAN, PARMAER, PISANER (PRICE-ANPRIES-SAVING-PANIERS-SPANISH, PISANERIN - ASPIRIN-SPANISHER), POMPEJER, SARDEN (SARDIN-DINARS-DRAINS-NADIRS), SIENESE (SIENESIN-SANIZER-EINSSAN.) ), TURINER (TOURNAMENT)

The POMPEJER is now extinct, because POMPEJI is the ancient city, the modern city is called POMPEI, but POMPEIER * does not exist.

Selected residents in the rest of Europe

KRAKAUER, STETTINER, DANZIGER, PILSENER, MEMELER, EDAMER, EMDENER, HAAGER, STEYLER, KATALANE, GIBRALTARER, WALISER, SCHOTTE, ENGLÄNDER, LONDONER

Beyond Europe: Asians, Africans, Americans


EGYPT
ALGERIAN (AGILER REGALIER)
ANGOLANS
ETHIOPIAN
BENINER (BEINE)
BOTSUAN
ERITREER
GABUNER
GAMBIER (AMBIGER)
CAMEROON
KENIANS (REINANKE)
COMORO
CONGOLESE
LESOTHER (RECOVERED-RECOVERED)
LIBERIAN
LIBYER
MALAWIANS
MALIER (MAILER, MALIERIN-LAMINIER)
MOROCCAN
MAURITANIAN
MAURITES
MOZAMBICANS (the MOSSAMBICAN is invalid)
NAMIBIAN
NIGRER
NIGERIAN
RUANDER
ZAMBIANS
SENEGALESE
SEYCHELLER
ZIMBABWER
SOMALI / SOMALIER
SOUTH AFRICANS
SUDANS
SWASI
TANZANIANS
TOGOLESE
CHADER
TUNISIANS
UGANDER

Unfortunately not listed are:

BURUNDER *
DSCHIBUTER * (SEVEN)
MADEGASSE *


CHINESE
TAIWANER
JAPANESE
KOREAN
BENGALI (BENGALIN-LANGBEIN)
BHUTANER (ENTERPRISE)
INDER (DINER-DIRNE-DREIN-EARTH-EARTH-BARK)
MALEDIVER (VALIDEREM)
NEPALESE (NEPALESIN - PLAY-PLAY)
PAKISTANI
THAI, THAI MEN
TIMORER
VIETNAMESE
ARMENIAN (ARMED)
BAHRAINER
GEORGE
IRAQI, IRAQI (KARIER)
ISRAELI (LAISIER)
YEMENITES
JORDAN
QATARIANS
KUWAITER
LEBANESE (ROPE-BLOW-BALINESE-BLOW-IN-Ointment)
OMANES (FLAVORS-CHESTNESS-MENORA-MOAR-ROMANS)
SAUDI (AUDIS)
SYRIAN, SYRIAN (EYRIRS)
TURKS
CYPRUS, CYPRIOTS
AFGHANI, AFGHAN
Kazakhstan
KIRGIS
TADJIKEN
TURKMENEN
Uzbek

In America

showhide
AMERICAN
ANTIGUAN (BARBADUER * is invalid)
BARBADIAN
ARGENTINIER (CLASSIFIED-GRATINATE)
BAHAMAANS
BELIZER
BOLIVIAN
BRAZILIAN
CHILENE (ACORN BODIES)
DOMINICAN
ECUADORIAN
GRENADER (GARENDER-GRADEREN-RAGENDER)
GUATEMALAN
GUYAN
HAITIAN
HONDURANS
JAMAICAN
CANADIAN
COLUMBERS
CUBAN
MEXICAN
NICARAGUANS
PANAMA
PARAGUAYERS
PERUVIAN
LUCIAN
VINCENTER (GRENADINER * is invalid)
SURINAMER (MAURINERS CLEANROOM)
URUGUAYAN
VENEZOLANS - note the vowel shift!

The inhabitants of islands

Here I have summarized some inhabitants of islands, which you can only find partially in the lists above. I find the FAROES, the NIUEANER and the IBIZENKER from IBIZA particularly beautiful.

ANTIGUANS
BAHAMAANS
BAHRAINER
BALEARIES
BALINESE
BARBADIAN
BRUNE EGGS
DOMINICAN
FARINGERS
Faroe Islands
FIJIANS
GRENADER
GREENLAND
GUAMER
HAITIAN
IBIZENS
JAMAICAN
COMORO
CORFIOT
CORSE
CRETER
CUBAN
LESBIAN
LUCIAN
MADEIRER
MALDIVER
NAURUER
NIUEANER
PALAUER
PEMBAER
SAMOANS
SEYCHELLER
TAIWANER
TIMORER
TONGAER
TUVALUER
VANUATUER
CYPRUS
CYPRIOT

A conclusion after looking at the Duden

I do not claim to have found all the words in the above categories and would appreciate your feedback and additions. The inhabitants of cities beyond Europe are certainly still missing, words like TOKIO (T) ER, TORONTER or PEKINGER are of course also valid. The formation of the German names for the inhabitants of the world is not standardized, and in addition to the frequent ending –ER, we also find the ending –ANER, -OTE, -NESE, -I and -E, –IT and other exotic species. So there is nothing like reading these words, which fortunately are relatively easy to memorize because we can associate a place with them.

Image sources
Cover picture - via getstencil for 1337 UGC GmbH