A Memoir about Merroir and Terroir

March 4, 2018

Sometimes it takes a while for our dictionary to catch up with our changing language. You may have seen an advertisement on television depicting a seal talking about the ‘merroir’ of Marlborough Regal Salmon. I thought I hadn’t seen the word before and a check revealed that it would not be legal if played in a game of scrabble. However a check of the internet revealed the following information:

A food writer for The Seattle Times, coined the term in 2003 after having some particularly fresh Pacific oysters. “Mer” (which means “sea”) is combined with the suffix “-oir” (which usually denotes a specific place) to provide a marine corollary to the word “terroir” (see the list below)—a term for the way environmental factors affect a crop. Terroir is most commonly used about wine or coffee.


There is an alternative spelling - meroir - which is also not currently allowed. “Terroir” has two R’s because it’s derived from the French word “terre,” for “earth”; “Merroir” should really only have one R because it’s derived from the word “mer.” So, if it is legalised it will probably be allowed with either one or two R’s. Neither are allowed at the moment.


That is enough about words which are not allowed. Here is a complete list of 6, 7 and 8 letter words which end in –OIR or -OIRE and are currently allowed.


DEVOIR          Duty, or responsibility
ESPOIR           A category of wrestler
MEMOIR         A biography
MOMOIR         A memoir written by a mother on the experience of motherhood
GLOIRE           Glory


BONSOIR       Good evening. The only word on this list which does not take an S
BOUDOIR       A woman’s bedroom
COULOIR        A mountainside gorge
FOODOIR       A blog that combines a memoir with a series of recipes
PISSOIR         A public urinal
POCHOIR       A manual colour stencilling on an illustration
RACLOIR        A scraper
SAUTOIR        A long necklace or a pendant on a long chain
TERROIR        The factors of soil and climate that give wine or coffee their flavours
ARMOIRE       A large ornate cabinet


ABATTOIR      A public slaughterhouse
GRATTOIR      A scraper made of flint
MOUCHOIR    A handkerchief
PEIGNOIR      A woman’s dressing-gown
TAMANOIR    The giant anteater
TROTTOIR      Pavement
VOUSSOIR     One of the wedge shaped pieces forming an arch or vault
GRIMOIRE      A book of magical lore
SAUTOIRE      A long necklace or a pendant on a long chain
WAGMOIRE    A quagmire


The word to make sure you learn is SAUTOIR / SAUTOIRE. They are very high probability letters. I have certainly played both words several times.




The last word was an impossible one to get unless you have seen the word before. It refers to round defensive towers found on the island of Sardinia (off the coast of Italy) and dates back to the Bronze Age. It is a very interesting word construction because the base word is NURHAG and you can also have NURHAGS. However there are two other plurals allowed – NURAGHI and NURAGHE. What a weird arrangement that you take the H from the middle of the word and put it near the end as part of the plural form! Another possibility to look out for is NURAGHIC.


It is now March, so try to find the answers to this quiz, all with the letter M:

A – D – E – E – M – S – T

A – D – E – E – M – L – R

C – D – E – I – M – N – O

A – E – L – M – N – R – U

A – I – I – M – N – R – T

A – D – M – O – O – R – T

A – E – I – M – N – T – X 

D – E – I – M – N – O – R 

A – E – H – L – M – N – O 

A – E – G – H – I – M – T 



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