Is Jess a Scrabble word?

Jess is a common given name that refers to either a male or female. When playing the popular board game Scrabble, players often wonder if “Jess” is an acceptable word that can be played on the board.

Scrabble Rules

Scrabble is a word game in which players use lettered tiles to form words on a gameboard. The main rules of Scrabble are:

  • Words must be at least 2 letters long
  • Words must be found in an accepted dictionary
  • Proper nouns like names are not allowed, with few exceptions
  • Words can be played horizontally or vertically on the board
  • Each letter tile has a points value, which determines the score for words played

So according to the official Scrabble rules, proper nouns are generally not valid words. This would suggest that “Jess” cannot be played, since it is primarily a name. However, Scrabble does make a few exceptions for short, common names.

Is Jess a Valid Scrabble Word?

To determine if “Jess” is allowed in Scrabble, we need to consult the Official Scrabble Dictionary, which arbitrates any questions over word validity. The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (OSPD) is endorsed by Hasbro as the word authority for Scrabble in North America.

According to the OSPD, “Jess” is listed as an accepted 2-letter word and can be played in a game of Scrabble.

Here is the entry for “Jess” in the OSPD:

jess – noun – a short strap attached to a hawk’s leg to which the leash is fastened.

So while “Jess” is best known as a nickname, the OSPD recognizes it as a short form of the technical term for a type of falconry equipment. This minor definition allows it to squeak through as an acceptable Scrabble word.

Other Dictionaries

To confirm, we can cross-reference the entry for “Jess” in some other reputable dictionaries:


jess – noun – a short strap of leather or leather with an attached swivel and ring secured around a falcon’s leg serving to attach a leash.

Cambridge Dictionary

jess – noun – a thin piece of leather that is fastened round the leg of a bird used in the sport of falconry

These entries match the definition given in the OSPD. So multiple dictionary sources corroborate that “Jess” is a valid Scrabble word, referring specifically to falconry equipment.

“Jess” in Game Context

It’s worth noting that while “Jess” is technically acceptable to play in Scrabble, it will likely only earn 1 point for a new player (unless it lands on a premium square).

More experienced players may challenge unfamiliar short words like “Jess.” So a new player attempting this word should be prepared to identify the falconry definition to opponents.

Nonetheless, as the dictionaries confirm, “Jess” is a legitimate Scrabble word that can earn a player points, odd as its usage may seem in the middle of a game session. Knowing obscure terms like this is one way skilled players can gain an advantage.

Other Proper Name Exceptions

“Jess” is not the only name that Scrabble allows, though proper nouns are mostly banned. Here are a few other common given names that can also be played:

  • Lee
  • Ai
  • Ian
  • Ida
  • Ora

Like “Jess,” all these names have secondary definitions unrelated to their use as personal names. This qualifies them as acceptable Scrabble words.

But the vast majority of names remain forbidden, so players can’t just play their friend’s name for points. Short names must have an alternate meaning in the dictionary to potentially be valid words.


In summary, “Jess” is an acceptable word in Scrabble as per the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary and other dictionaries. This is thanks to its definition as a type of falconry equipment, distinct from its common usage as a nickname.

Knowing obscure terms like this can give experienced players an advantage over novices. While some players may challenge it, a player using “Jess” can defend it by pointing to the name’s lesser-known meaning.

So next time you’re stuck with some odd letters, remember that “Jess” is a playable Scrabble word! With an odd definition maybe, but a valid word nonetheless.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Jess a name?

Yes, Jess is commonly used as a nickname for both males and females, either as a shortened form of Jesse or Jessica.

Can you use proper nouns in Scrabble?

Generally no, proper nouns like people’s names are forbidden in Scrabble according to the official rules. However, some short common names like Jess have alternate definitions that allow them to be playable words.

What does Jess mean in Scrabble?

When played in Scrabble, Jess refers specifically to a short strap used in the sport of falconry. This obscure meaning, unrelated to the name Jess, is why it is considered a valid word.

Is Jess worth a lot of points in Scrabble?

No, Jess is only worth 1 point in Scrabble as a 2-letter word (unless played on a premium square). Its value comes from filling up the board, not from scoring big points.

Are there other names allowed in Scrabble?

Yes, a handful of short common names like Lee, Ai, Ian, and Ida are permitted in Scrabble because they have alternate definitions separate from their use as names. But most names remain forbidden.

Summary Table

Name Definition Point Value
Jess A type of falconry equipment 1 point
Lee A shelter from the wind 1 point
Ai A three-toed sloth 1 point
Ian Someone from Iran 1 point
Ida A sweet starchy tuber 1 point

This table summarizes the alternate definitions that qualify several common names as valid Scrabble words, along with their point values.


To conclude, Jess is an acceptable Scrabble word according to the official dictionary, since it has an alternate definition unrelated to its usage as a name. Experienced players can take advantage of knowing obscure terms like this to score points and block opponents. But newer players may want to avoid short words like “Jess” that are likely to be challenged as invalid names. With over 100,000 entries in the Scrabble dictionary, there are plenty of other options to choose from!

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