Uncharted Words

Uncharted Words is a twitterbot that digests the 1913 Webster’s Dictionary, invents a new word and a definition for it, and then tweets it out, every ten minutes.

It’s come up with some pretty strange and interesting stuff, as well as plenty of detritus.

Some random samples:

EXTIMALING, n. — The act of apprehending any object whatever; an act of one who blesses.

BLOTTONESS, n. — The part of it; one of the mind; propensity; as, the goodness of timber, of a gun; to depress the eyes.

CRUPATED, adj. — Having the tail set low and buttocks that fall away sharply from the base; as, a crabbed author.

BROITY, n. — Sincere affection and kindness; warmth of disposition and manners.

BLATE, v. — To wash, as the face, with a cosmetic water, said by some to be prepared for; to await; to watch for; as, I abide my time.


WordsAmok! began as a fairly simple game that blended elements of Scrabble and Tetris. Seven letters would fall slowly from the ceiling – your goal was to make the longest word you could from the letters before they hit the ground or the piles of rubble (i.e. unused letters from previous rounds) below. Long words would clear away rubble, and there were special characters that would clear away rubble in specific ways (e.g. a pink “e” would clear away all the “e”s in the rubble if you used it in a word; a green letter would shear off the top of the highest rubble column).

Building this game sparked a desire to make more word games. There are a lot out there, but I feel like there’s plenty of room to make stuff that’s pretty different.

So I made WordsAmok 2, which I find much more addictive. WordsAmok 2 is based loosely on the gameplay of Boggle – you get one set of tiles and you have to make as many words as you can from adjacent tiles in the allotted time. The big difference with WordsAmok 2 is that the tiles are laid out in 3 concentric circles, rather than a grid, and each time you make a word, the circles rotate independently of one another, one position in a random direction, so the adjacent tiles shift every turn.

The other big difference is that words are scored both on their length and on the relative rarity of the word. I scoured multiple wordlists from the internet and wrote a program to sort them in order of how frequently the word appears in Google Books’ English Fiction corpus over the past couple of decades – the rarer the word, the higher the value, so a really odd 3-letter word is worth as much as a routine 6-letter word. It’s not perfect, but it adds a level of intrigue to the game.

And you can play them both!

WordsAmok 1 is here.

WordsAmok 2 is here.

And look for WordsAmok.com, coming one of these days, featuring both of these in more refined form and a couple more that are on the burner.