Zoom With A View

April 15, 2018

An interesting situation that occurred in a game I played recently. The first play was ELEGY starting in the middle square. I was lucky that they played a G, because with ACEIMNN I could only think of MENACING. My opponent then played ZOOM from the Triple Word Square at the top middle of the board to the M that I had just played. That left me wondering what words I could play to extend ZOOM across to the corner of the board. After the game I looked it up and found that there were 5 possible words that fit this pattern:


Z   O   O   M   _   _   _   _


Can you find any of those 5 words? Answers are at the bottom of the blog


Since the theme of this blog appears to involve the letter Z, let’s have a look at some 5 letter words with that letter. Most people seem to automatically try to put with a Z with an O and if that isn’t available A, E and I are the next choices. Words with a Z and a U are less frequently studied so I thought I would do a list of all the 5 letter words that have one Z, at least one U, and don’t use an S. That gives a list of the following 30 words. I hope there are a few you didn’t know.


AZUKI             A Japanese bean. Also spelled ADUKI, ADSUKI and ADZUKI    
AZURE           A delicate blue colour. Front hook R for RAZURE
AZURN           Alternative spelling of AZURE
AZURY            Alternative spelling of AZURE
BUAZE            An African shrub that can also be spelled BWAZI
DURZI             A Hindu tailor. Also spelled DARZI
FURZE             A spiny shrub, like gorse
FURZY             Abounding in FURZE
FUZED            Equipped with a detonating device
FUZEE             A match with a long oval head for outdoor use. Also FUSEE
FUZIL              A type of flintlock musket (gun) Also FUSIL
GAUZE            A transparent fabric
GAUZY             Resembling gauze
KANZU            A long white garment worn in parts of Africa
KLUTZ             A clumsy person
KUDZU            An ornamental plant found in China and Japan
MAUZY             Foggy or misty
MAZUT             Petroleum residue left after distillation. Also spelled MAZOUT
MUZAK             Piped background music
NUDZH             To nag. A word of Yiddish origin.
OUZEL              A European thrush. Also OUSEL, WOOSEL and WOOSELL
PONZU             A Sauce with Orange Juice, Sake, Sugar, Soy Sauce and Red Pepper
PUZEL              A maid. Also PUCELLE, PUSSEL or PUZZEL
TOUZE              To rumple. Also TOUSE. TOUSLE, TOUZLE, TOWSE and TOWZE
TOUZY              Rumpled or unkempt
ULZIE               A Scottish pronunciation of oil. Also spelled ULYIE
UNZIP               To open a zipper
ZEBUB              An Ethiopian insect
ZUPAN              The body governing a ZUPA (a federation of Serbian villages)
ZUPPA              An Italian fish soup


Until I did this list I had thought that ZUPA and ZUPPA were alternate spellings of the same word. Their origins weren’t even in the same country!


ULZIE is a weird one. I can see how in a Scottish dialect ULZIE or ULYIE could be OILY, but I don’t see how you get OIL from one of those two spellings. Maybe I am looking at it from the wrong angle. It is probably just a completely different word and I am trying to pronounce it to make it sound similar.


So we move on to the quiz from the top of the page:


Did you think ZOOMINGS was worth a try? It looks reasonable. However it is not correct. The 5 words are:


ZOOMABLE               Capable of being viewed at various levels of magnification.

ZOOMANIA               Excessive interest in animals.

ZOOMETRY               Comparing the measurements of animals

ZOOMORPH              A God symbol that takes an animal form.

ZOOMANCY               Predicting the future by observing animals.


“That lion is walking this way. I predict that I am about to be eaten”?


Joking aside, I found some interesting facts about zoomancy:


Etruscans tried to divine the future by watching the movements of hens

Babylonians splashed water on the heads of sleeping oxen and made predictions on the future based on how they reacted

Several cultures set caged mice free and made predictions based on the directions they ran away. This is called MYOMANCY. Legal for scrabble, but with MM and YY only Nigel is ever going to spot an opportunity to play that word. The rest of us will be wondering how to dump CMMYY and we'll be pleased to get a moderate score for playing MYC.

In Victorian times it was believed that a hare running through a town meant that someone’s house was going to catch fire.

A related example, but not one of predicting the future, is a Polynesian tribal custom in which beetles were placed on the grave of a murdered person. The paths of the beetles were tracked to supposedly reveal the name of the murderer.


When you started playing scrabble I bet you didn’t think you were going to learn stuff like that!





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