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A Memoir about Merroir and Terroir

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

Cheers Patrick

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