Can we call something a “word” if it doesn’t have a vowel? [closed]

It seems self-evident to me, but in the heat of a Scrabble game (no surprise), my opponent claimed that “sh” was a word. I think it’s a diphthong, but the printed dictionary definition of “word” didn’t resolve the issue.

I know that Scrabble-related questions on this site are generally regarded as infra dig, but the event really did cause me to wonder what truly qualifies as a “word” and what doesn’t.

[I also understand that this question sits just atop the divide between meaning and orthography, but hey, whtvr.]


Sh has entries in the Oxford English Dictionary as a verb, a noun and an interjection. The letters S and H do not constitute a diphthong. Rather, they represent the consonant /ʃ/.

Word is difficult to define satisfactorily, but it is determined as much by its syntactical function as by its form and meaning. The definition in ‘The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language’ is as good as any:

The smallest unit of grammar that can stand alone as a complete
utterance, separated by spaces in written language and potentially by
pauses in speech.

These conditions can be satisfied even when a word is not in any dictionary.

Source : Link , Question Author : fortunate1 , Answer Author : Barrie England

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