CLOSE
iStock
iStock

11 Playful Pieces of Pinball Slang

iStock
iStock

You might not know it, but it’s pinball season right now. Forty-one years ago this month, The Who's pinball rock-opera Tommy was released in the U.S., and in just a few weeks, the Professional & Amateur Pinball Association World Championships will be taking place in Carnegie, Pennsylvania.

Pinball in one variation or another has existed since at least the 19th century, with spring-loaded bagatelle devices. (Bagatelle is a billiard-like table game where players try to maneuver balls around wooden pegs.) In the early 1930s, the first coin-operated pinball machines were invented, and after the introduction of flippers in the late 1940s, the popularity of the game soared. But because pinball was viewed by some to be a game of chance (like gambling), it was banned in many cities. In fact New York didn’t lift its ban until 1976.

Get into the game with these 11 pieces of pinball slang.

1. PINHEAD

A pinball enthusiast. Not to be confused with a certain, hell-raising pinhead. Similar is a plungeroo, a pinball-playing addict.

2. BACKBOX

The flashy back panel of a pinball machine is known as the backbox (or "back box"). According to the Internet Pinball Machine Glossary, it is also known as the lightbox. In British English, it is referred to as the backflash. The display section of the backbox is known as the backglass, and often features some amazing art.

3. BIFF

According to The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, a biff is an extra vigorous hit with a flipper. Some machines have what are called biff bars or anti-biff bars, metal bars placed behind the flippers with the purpose, presumably, of hindering biffing. The word biff has meant to hit or strike since the late 1800s.

4. PANIC FLIP

A panic flip involves flipping before the ball has a chance to reach the flippers.

5. LAZARUS BALL

A Lazarus ball is a ball that’s come back to life. It’s passed between the flippers but by some bit of extreme chance gets flipped back into play. Named for the Biblical character who was brought back from the dead.

6. NUDGING

Nudging is cheating, or an expert move, depending on who you’re talking to. Nudging and shaking involves moving the machine just enough to influence the ball, but not enough to result in a tilt, or shutdown of the game. Some pinball video games also feature a nudge or shake feature.

7. BUMPERS

You’ve got flippers and the ball—now how about those bumpers? Bumpers come in two varieties: passive and active. Passive bumpers just sit there while active ones bounce the ball back into play. Mushroom and dead bumpers are types of passive bumpers, while some active bumpers include the thumper, the jet, and the pop.

8. HOUSE BALL

Also known as a zip ball, a house ball is one that has scored no points. The name may have come from the idea of the ball going back to the house, similar to a hand in a casino card game that the player loses.

9. KICK-OUT HOLE

Landing your ball in a kick-out hole will score you a certain number of points, depending on the game, before the hole kicks the ball back into play.

10. GOBBLE HOLE

Getting your ball in the gobble hole will end the game but also give you bonus points. (According to the Internet Pinball Machine Glossary, this feature is no longer common).

11. DRAIN

Once your ball enters the drain, that area below the flippers, you can kiss it goodbye. Losing a ball like this is known as draining. The Internet Pinball Machine Glossary lists machines that drain too easily as drain-o-matics.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
fun
'Puggle,' 'Emoji,' and 298 Other New Words Added to Scrabble Dictionary
iStock
iStock

Scrabble aficionados and wordsmiths around the world will soon have some new reading material to bone up on. In celebration of National Scrabble Day today, the makers of the classic word game announced that 300 new words will be added to Scrabble’s official dictionary.

The new words will be published in the sixth edition of Merriam-Webster’s The Official Scrabble Player’s Dictionary, which will be released this fall, according to Mashable.

Here are just a few of the new additions:

Emoji (noun): A small computer symbol used to express emotion
Ew (interjection): Used to express disgust
Facepalm (verb): To cover the face with the hand
Macaron (noun): A cookie with filling in the middle
Puggle (noun): A kind of dog
Sriracha (noun): A spicy pepper sauce

Some players of the 70-year-old game may be surprised to learn that “ew” isn’t already a word, especially considering that Scrabble recognizes more than 100 two-letter words, including “hm” (another expression), “ai” (a three-toed sloth), and “za” (slang for pizza). If played strategically and placed on a triple word square, “ew” can land you 15 points—not bad for two measly letters.

New Scrabble words must meet a few criteria before they’re added to the official dictionary. They must be two to eight letters long and already in a standard dictionary. Abbreviations, capitalized words, and words with hyphens or apostrophes are immediately ruled out.

Peter Sokolowski, editor at large at Merriam-Webster, told Entertainment Weekly, “For a living language, the only constant is change. New dictionary entries reflect our language and our culture, including rich sources of new words such as communication technology and food terms from foreign languages.”

The last edition of the Scrabble dictionary came out in 2014 and included 5000 new words, such as "selfie," "hashtag," "geocache," and "quinzhee."

[h/t Mashable]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Words
25 Double-Letter Scrabble Words to Have in Your Back Pocket
iStock
iStock

The best Scrabble players are the strategic ones who keep adding words to their player vocabulary. Once you've mastered a number of two-letter words and the high-scoring ones (that are admittedly very difficult to play), start looking to double-letter words to take advantage of the multiples on your tile rack.

1. AGLOO

seal on snow
iStock

Don't have an I for IGLOO? Use an A for AGLOO, meaning an air hole through the ice made by a seal.

2. ALLEE

allee
iStock

Instead of an ALLEY, use this double-double-lettered word meaning a tree-lined walkway.

3. BETTA

betta fish
iStock

Rather than BETA, use that extra T to mean the freshwater fish.

4. BRATTICE

Coal mine
iStock

A BRATTICE now means a heavy curtain or barrier in a mine to help direct air flow, though the medieval meaning was simply a temporary partition along a wall.

5. DRESSAGE

Dressage
Adam Ihse, AFP/Getty Images

The fanciest of all horse training and equestrian events, DRESSAGE is the obedience and discipline riding competition, rather than the racing.

6. FUGGY

man holding his nose because of terrible smell
iStock

To FUG is to make something stuffy or odorous, but its adjective form (FUGGY) and past and present participles (FUGGED, FUGGING) will take care of any extra Gs on the board.

7. GHYLL

two people looking into a ravine
iStock

Not only will GHYLL, which is a deep ravine, utilize a double-letter, but it will help if your tile bar is sorely lacking in vowels.

8. GRAAL

gold chalice
iStock

GRAAL is an older form of the word GRAIL, but it's also a technique used in glassblowing.

9. HEELER

Shoemaker holding high heels
iStock

Don't have an A for HEALER? A HEELER is a person who puts heels on shoes (as well as an Australian cattle dog).

10. HELLUVA

cursing key on keyboard
iStock

If you're having a HELLUVA time getting rid of a few letters, this nonstandard combination word is actually Scrabble-approved.

11. INNAGE

worker examining containers
iStock

INNAGE is the quantity of goods remaining in a container when received after shipment.

12. LARRUP

man defeating other man at video games
iStock

To decisively defeat someone or trounce them is to LARRUP.

13. MAMMEE

tropical island
iStock

Another double-double-letter word, a MAMMEE is species of tropical tree with large red fruit.

14. MOGGY

cats
iStock

A MOGGY or MOGGIES (plural) is the cat equivalent of a mutt.

15. OLLA

Salad in glass jars
iStock

A quick word to tack onto some common board letters, an OLLA is a wide-mouthed pot or jar.

16. OUTTELL

woman with megaphone mural
iStock

OUTTELL, OUTTELLS, and OUTTELLING all refer to speaking out or declaring something openly.

17. PERRON

outdoor staircase
iStock

A PERRON can refer to both large outdoor stairways or the stone platforms of certain columns and edifices.

18. PIGGERY

pig in pig pen
iStock

You're surely prepared with PIGGY, PIGGIE, and PIGGISH, but a PIGGERY is a pigpen.

19. QUASSIA

Quassia amara
iStock

Score extra points with a well-place Q. A QUASSIA is another tropical tree whose bitter bark is sometimes used as a digestive aid or an insecticide.

20. SCABBLE

clay in hands
iStock

No, not Scrabble. SCABBLE means to shape roughly.

21. TIPPET

tippet
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

A TIPPET is a covering for the shoulders, or a ceremonial scarf worn by clergy.

22. TYPP

balls of yarn
iStock

A TYPP (or TYPPS, plural) is a unit of yarn size. It's an acronym for thousand yards per pound.

23. VALLUM

Vallum at Hadrian's Wall
Optimist on the run, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

The VALLUM was part of the defensive wall of earth and stone surrounding Roman camps.

24. WEEPIE

man and woman crying in movie theater
iStock

While WEEPY is an adjective for tending to weep, a WEEPIE is a very maudlin movie.

25. WELLY

child wearing wellingtons
iStock

According to the official Scrabble dictionary, WELLY is an acceptable form of WELLIE, the British rainboots.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios