British Scrabble Association changes ‘offensive’ definition of Jew

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British Scrabble Association changes ‘offensive’ definition of Jew

Organisation officially updates meaning of ‘jew’ as a verb, after complaints from British Jews.

A game of scrabble (Wikipedia/thebarrowboy)
A game of scrabble (Wikipedia/thebarrowboy)

The Association of British Scrabble Players has updated its definition of ‘jew’ as a verb, after complaints from British Jews that it was offensive.

The word is taken not only as a noun but as a verb, defined as “to haggle, get the better of”.

This week, the Jewish Chronicle reported that the association’s chairman Mike Whiteoak, who is himself Jewish, had confirmed that the definition of the verb ‘jew’ had now been labelled “offensive”.

Dave Rich from the Community Security Trust (CST) said this was “progress of sorts” but that it “still does not address the fact that they are helping to perpetuate, and implicitly legitimise, antisemitic usages of the word ‘Jew’.”

He added: “This is different from including swear words or other racist insults, because ‘Jew’ is a normal word that antisemites have given an alternative meaning as a way of slandering all Jewish people.”

In the 1990s objections from Jewish player Judith Grad to her opponent’s use of the word ‘jew’ led to national changes, after she noted that the Scrabble dictionary defined ‘jew’ as a verb meaning to con, cheat or swindle.

It led Scrabble maker Hasbro to update its dictionary, but many players disliked the updated version, creating two separate systems.

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