Skip to Content

Playing Scrabble Makes You Smarter (According to Evidence)

Last Updated on January 7, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Scrabble board game with the scrabble tile spell Let's Play
Mitch Hutchinson / Shutterstock.com

Is Scrabble an important part of your life? Was it a staple form of entertainment in your home like it was in mine? Scrabble formed a large part of my life growing up, so it is difficult for me to say if it makes one smarter or not. However, I have read multiple articles stating that people who play Scrabble are generally smarter than those who do not. 

I wanted to find out if there was any truth to this, so I set out to do a bit of investigative research. What the scientists and experts have to say on the subject is very interesting indeed. 

Scrabble can make you smarter in 6 ways. When you play Scrabble regularly:

  1. Your vocabulary grows.
  2. Your spelling abilities improve greatly.
  3. Your ability to pick up on patterns and recognize words improves.
  4. You develop a better understanding of words and language.
  5. You communicate better and more clearly with others.
  6. Your general knowledge increases, in terms of history, science, philosophy, and current events.

I was quite delighted by the information that I came across while researching the benefits of Scrabble. As it turns out, Scrabble can make a person smarter, but not in the way that people think it can. 

Playing Scrabble will not suddenly make you top of your class or able to outsmart the latest winners of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. However, it will make you’ word smart’ and will kick-start your brain into thinking faster and responding faster too. A quick-thinking brain is one that is always a step ahead of the rest. 

If you want to take a closer look at how Scrabble can make you smarter in the 6 ways mentioned above, read on. I break down each of these ways in a bit more detail below.

Scrabble Can Make You Smarter | What Experts Have to Say About It

While doing my research, I was delighted to find out that Scrabble does indeed make the average person more “wordy”. That means that my nickname of “Miss Wordsmith” was rightfully earned from many years of exposure to Scrabble (thanks Scrabble!). I was literally obsessed with the game growing up, and I would still strongly recommend it to any parent hoping to boost their child’s “word capabilities”. 

Cool illustration on book lovers, reading books
Shutterstock.com

That said, let us delve into the ways that Scrabble can make you smarter, as listed above. Here goes…

1. Playing Scrabble Grows Your Vocabulary.

According to Merriam-Webster.com, the Official Scrabble Dictionary currently features over 100,000 words. The words range from 2-letter to 8-letter words and are great references for anyone looking to expand on their vocab. 

If you know most of the words in the Scrabble Dictionary, it is safe to say that you have an extensive vocab. And what could be better than having a plethora of words to choose from in your vocab? As it turns out, Scrabble players are able to quickly understand words or assign general meaning to them. 

According to research from the University of Calgary, Scrabble players are highly flexible in the tools that they use to read, recognize, and understand words. Also, it was found that Scrabble players can “discern between real words and nonsense words” about 20% quicker than non-players. 

So, playing Scrabble earns you a bigger vocab and a more advanced way of recognizing words? That sounds like a win all round!

2. Playing Scrabble Will Make You a Spelling Pro.

Being a wordsmith requires good spelling abilities. You will probably find spelling competition winners, journalists, and writers all have a bit of Scrabble playing in their pasts. It is safe to say that many Scrabble players have made it their duty to learn the accepted words in the Scrabble Dictionary, which keeps getting new additions and is growing exponentially with each passing year. 

With exposure to new words and memorizing them, you can expect for your spelling abilities to greatly improve. What better way to be exposed to new words and how to spell them than by being exposed to Scrabble!

3. Playing Scrabble Makes Pattern and Word Recognition Easy-Peasy.

Have you ever played a game of Scrabble with an expert player and wondered how they picked up on word opportunities so quickly? This is probably because playing Scrabble actually exercises and develops a part of the brain that makes picking up on patterns and recognizing words (or part thereof) a great deal easier than the average person. 

Students in scouting uniform playing Scrabble game in the classroom
AlivePhoto / Shutterstock.com

An interesting article in The Daily Mail reveals the findings of a study published in the Elsevier journal Cortex. The study took a look at how Scrabble players and non-Scrabble players identified words from jumbled letters on a screen. Their speed was monitored along with their ability to differentiate words from non-words both vertically and horizontally. Their brains were scanned during the test.

They found that Scrabble experts used additional areas of the brain for the task, including visual perception and working memory areas, which are not usually associated with visual word recognition. That is proof that Scrabble makes you smarter, isn’t it?

4. Playing Scrabble Makes Understanding of Words and Language Easier.

Let’s give a bit of thought to language and communication. As people, we communicate with our words, our facial expressions, and our body language. To a certain extent, this sets us apart from other species. Humans are quite impressive in their ability to use language to communicate – I must admit! Of course, other species can communicate, but they do not have a developed language on their side. 

A psychologist called Steven Pinker once said that “language is the jewel in the crown of cognition” and that certainly rings true. Through language, we can communicate our thoughts (therefore, our intelligence) to others.

Also, some of the smartest people in the world are known to be able to learn different languages at the drop of a hat. How many people do you know that are smart enough to learn new languages quickly?

5. Playing Scrabble Makes Communication Easier With Others. 

Just how well do you communicate? I find that I communicate well during a game of Scrabble. Playing Scrabble will certainly help you to communicate more easily. Sitting down to a game puts you in a position to discuss and explain words consistently, developing these skills. Communication skills learned in Scrabble can be most useful in other areas of life as well. 

People Talking During an Event
Shutterstock.com

By learning a plethora of new words, thanks to Scrabble, experts who play the game are known to develop an extensive collection of words from more than just one language. And they are known to communicate better than the average person. Who would have thought, right?

6. Playing Scrabble Makes You More Knowledgeable When It Comes to History, Science, Philosophy, & Current Events.

You might be wondering how on earth Scrabble can increase your general knowledge in current events, philosophy, science, and history! It is a simple concept, if you think about it.

When playing Scrabble, there will always be times where you are exposed to an entirely new word. When the word is played, you might challenge it or ask what it means. The other player will be able to give you a definition for the word, which usually leads to some conversation about the background of the word, what it means, why they thought of it, and so on. 

Because most words played on the Scrabble board are typically linked to history, science, philosophy, and current events (perhaps that is just what is on people’s minds), those are the areas where you can expect your general knowledge to grow.

Scrabble is Good for the Brain, Isn’t It?

I firmly believe that Scrabble is a great workout for the brain. In addition to growing your vocab and making you a spelling pro, playing Scrabble also develops strategic thinking, improves your focus and concentration, boosts memory function, and challenges the brain to learn new things. 

These are all things that help a person to develop stronger mental abilities, which in my opinion, means you are a smarter person. Do you want to be a smarter person? Maybe the first step is to start playing Scrabble!

Illustration of pink color human brain with glasses as a super hero and light bulb on white background
Shutterstock.com

All things considered

If you do a bit of online research, as I did, you will undoubtedly find that people argue back and forth about whether or not Scrabble’s brain-boosting powers are real. There will always be yay-and-nay-sayers, so it really comes down to you and what you personally think and believe.

What you choose to believe is really up to you, but I would strongly recommend that you start playing Scrabble regularly and see how your knowledge improves, before you make a final decision either way. Good luck, and enjoy!

+ posts

This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.