The Phrontistery




Rare Three-Letter Words

Add two and one and you may ken the odd key I'll use for now. Not yet? 'Tis not too bad, but I'll aid you. Thy tip: "wee". Now can you spy the key? Yes! You win! But you see how its use can vex the ego, and I'll end. But who can say it's not fun?

All right, enough of that! This list consists of 151 very obscure, very short words, each with only three letters. My wife has always told me that size doesn't matter, and this list proves that maxim true. While you're not likely to use any of them in daily conversation, these tiny creatures might just prove useful someday - if only in a game of Scrabble(R). Note: for a complete list of acceptable two and three-letter Scrabble words, consult this page.


Word Definition
aba garment of camel or goat hair; camel or goat-hair fabric
abb yarn used for warp
aby to make amends; atone; pay a penalty
ait small island in lake or river
ala membranous outgrowth on a plant or animal
alb long white robe worn by priests
alk sap or resin from turpentine trees
alt high musical tone
ama a Japanese pearl-diver
ana in equal quantities
ard plough used to scratch top surface of soil
awn beard or similar bristly growth on stalk of grain
bar unit of pressure of one million dynes per square centimeter
bee hardwood on either side of bowsprit through which forestays are reeved
bel unit of noise intensity equal to ten decibels
bis twice; in two places
bot larva of a botfly that infests horses
cep brown edible mushroom
cog single-masted, square-sailed ship with raised stern
col depression or pass in a mountain range
cwm valley or glen
dag dirty tatted tuft of sheep's wool
dah short heavy Burmese knife
dal a dried legume, such as lentils, beans or peas
dap to dip gently into water; to fish with a surface fly
daw simpleton; bird of the crow family
dit poem; words of a song
dol unit for measuring intensity of pain
dop copper cup for holding a diamond while cutting it
eft again; afterwards
eft newt
eke in addition; also; likewise
ell old unit of length equal to 45 inches
ere before
erg unit of work measuring force of one dyne applied over one centimeter
eth old English letter for voiced 'th' sound
fid conical wooden pin used to splice strands of rope
fie expression of disgust or disapproval
fub to put off; to fob
fug hot; close; smoky state of atmosphere
gad to wander about idly or in pursuit of pleasure
gal unit of acceleration of one centimeter per second per second
gar mild oath
gat opening or strait between two sandbanks
gib wedge-shaped piece of metal that holds another in place
gid brain disease suffered by sheep
gig light two-wheeled one-horse carriage
hoc card game, now obsolete
hod V-shaped trough for carrying bricks or mortar on the shoulders
hoy large one-decked boat
ife tropical African fibrous plant
iff if and only if
ist one who holds to an 'ism'
ivi Tahitian chestnut tree
jib small triangular sail extending from the head of the foremast
jow to ring a bell; a stroke of a bell
jud mass of coal ready for final removal
jug sound of the nightingale
jus law; legal right
keb ewe that gives birth to stillborn lamb
ked wingless fly that feeds on livestock
kef state of dreamy or drug-induced repose
kep to catch an approaching object or falling liquid
ket carrion; matted wool
kex dry hollow plant stalk
kif drug like marijuana smoked in North Africa
kip skin of a young animal
kip unit of weight equivalent to 1000 pounds
kir drink of black currant syrup and white wine
kit a small pocket violin
kop bank of terracing at a football field
lac dark red transparent resin used to make shellac
lar local god of a house
lea arable land left fallow or used for pasture
lev monetary unit of Bulgaria
ley mystical straight line between features of landscape
lux unit of illumination equal to one lumen per square meter
mel honey
mew to shed, moult or change
mho unit of electrical conductance
mil unit of 1/1000 inch used for measuring thickness of wire
mim prim, demure
mon Japanese family crest
mor humus layer formed by slow decomposition in acidic soil
mow to make a grimace
neb bird's beak
nef ornamental stand in shape of ship for holding salt or cutlery
nim to steal; to pilfer
obi broad sash worn with a kimono
ord point of a weapon; a beginning
orf viral infection of sheep
ort scrap of food; morsel
pam card game in which jack of club has highest value
pax tablet decorated with sacred figure and kissed by participants in mass
ped naturally formed mass or aggregate of soil
per through; according to; by means or agency of
pro in favour of; for
pug ground clay mixed with water
puy small volcanic cone
pyx box or vessel in which coins or consecrated Eucharist are kept
qat leaves chewed or brewed in tea as a stimulant
qua in the capacity of
ras headland
rep plain-woven fabric with crosswise ribs
ret to expose to moisture; to soak; to soften by soaking
rev to run an engine before bringing it into use
ria normal drowned valley; long wide creek
roc enormous legendary Arabian bird
rom a gypsy man
rya colourful Scandinavian knotted-pile rug
sal a salt
saw saying or proverb
say delicate woollen fabric
seg stud or metal plate in sole of a shoe to prevent wear
sic thus
suq Middle Eastern marketplace
taj crown or head-dress
taw to prepare skins by soaking, salting, stretching and paring
ted to spread grass for drying
teg a sheep in its second year; the fleece of such a sheep
tej Ethiopian honey-mead
tex unit of measurement of fineness of fibres and yarn
tod old unit of weight of wool equal to 28 pounds
tog unit of measurement for insulation properties of fabric
ton unit of cooling power equal to 12,000 BTU per hour
tot bone or other object retrieved from garbage pile
tow bundle of untwisted natural fibres
tup ram; pile-driver; striking face of steam hammer or jackhammer
tye inclined trough for washing ore
ure use; custom
vis force; power
vug small cavity in a rock
wen enormously congested city
wey old measure for dry goods usually equal to 40 bushels
wis to know, to believe
wye a Y-branching pipe or railroad track arrangement
wyn old English rune having value 'w'
yad rod used by readers of the Torah as a pointer for following text
yag synthetic diamond made of yttrium aluminum garnet
yam posting-house along a road
yaw to move unsteadily side to side; to rotate about a vertical axis
yen craving or yearning
yeo stream or drain used in mining
yew to rise, as a layer of froth in a boiling liquid
yex to hiccup, belch or spit
yok pejorative Jewish term for a non-Jew
yon yonder; that over there; those over there
zek inmate of prison labour camp
zel form of Oriental cymbal
zho cross between a yak and a cow
zug waterproof leather used for boots


I hope you have found this site to be useful. If you have any corrections, additions, or comments, please contact me. Please note that I am not able to respond to all requests. Please consult a major dictionary before e-mailing your query. All material on this page © 1996-2014 Stephen Chrisomalis. Links to this page may be made without permission.

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