I am confused why I cannot use 'ORIENTEE' as a word in Scrabble.

It should mean 'someone who is attending orientation, as in a new employee (and the word is formed analogously: 'someone being oriented'.

Google says 'orientee' is not an acceptable word in the English dictionary. I have encountered this word quite a lot in the hospital for so many years.

So, is it a word or not, in real life or in Scrabble?

  • 2
    1. Did you find "orientee" in any of the online dictionaries? 2. What does it mean? Please answer IN the actual question not in the answer box
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 7:26
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    What is your understanding of the word orientee? Please post in the QUESTION box. Your question will get closed or will not receive good answers because you have given us too little information. If you only want to know why you can't play the word in scrabble, evidently the scrabble team does not consider it a valid word.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 7:37
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    It's a word in Scrabble if it's on the agreed-upon dictionary.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 13:22
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    @lly Did you notice in the comment of mine you responded to that this word doesn’t appear in 1,061 dictionaries indexed by OneLook? So JJ’s answer may be “correct” (on the wrong stack), but the advice doesn’t help OP. There was no dictionary OP and her team could have agreed upon in advance that would let her play this word. English is vast and sprawling, and many words are quite comprehensible without the imprimatur of a lexicographer, but Scrabble is narrow and rule-bound. In the end OP’s opponents were correct: she can’t play the word.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 14:43
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    Mismatch between title and question posed at the end of the OP: So, is it a word or not, in real life or in Scrabble?. I think this is creating two sets of answers - one about game mechanics and one about contents of dictionaries
    – Smock
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 15:04

3 Answers 3


Allnurses.com, a US nursing website, says in one thread

I was writing a paper for a class in my BSN program and typed in orientee and the spellcheck said it wasn't a word, and I went to dictionary.com and same thing. I've always used that word for a person on orientation. So if it's not a word what should I use in my paper - right now I'm going to put "new hire" or "newly hired employee" but am open to suggestions.

I've always used orientee also. I'm not sure if it would matter for your paper or not, whether "orientee" is in the dictionary. I think a lot of medical lingo wouldn't be found there, even though they're accepted words within the profession.

So although its meaning "one who is being oriented" is fairly obvious as the -ee suffix is productive, it's jargon within the US medical sector.

Because it's jargon and formed from a productive suffix, it's entirely possible that smaller or less comprehensive or specialised dictionaries wouldn't list it. It's not listed in OED either, nor in Oxford's specialist medical dictionaries.

As regards Scrabble, valid words are strictly defined in whichever dictionary you're using for your game. If it's not there, it's not valid.

  • 1
    This is a very good answer but still suffers from getting the original question wrong: outside of tournament play, any agreed-upon dictionary is fine; within tournament play, the valid dictionary varies by jurisdiction but isn't germane here.
    – lly
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 14:09
  • That's why I mention the dictionary last (and I'm just about to roll back the edit which changed that). This site answers questions from an English-language perspective. The gaming perspective is distinctly secondary. However, the clarification your comment offered is useful: thanks.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 14:59
  • The term is very understandable outside of health care and surely used outside also. I don't think it is healthcare jargon. Definitely not (yet) in word lists, but just as definitely a word that people use in speech without feeling weird.
    – Mitch
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 15:21
  • If you roll back to 'Why isn't it allowed in Scrabble', the question should be closed. As to its wordness, its non-appearance in any dictionary I've seen mentioned here argues strongly that it isn't standard English; as to its acceptability within the medical profession/s, that's surely again off-topic. Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 15:48

The official scrabble rules state:

Before the game begins, all players should agree upon the dictionary that they will use, in case of a challenge. All words labeled as a part of speech (including those listed of foreign origin, and as archaic, obsolete, colloquial, slang, etc.) are permitted with the exception of the following: words always capitalized, abbreviations, prefixes and suffixes standing alone, words requiring a hyphen or an apostrophe.

If you agreed on a dictionary before you started playing, then you should consult the chosen dictionary.

If you didn't, you should make a point of agreeing on a dictionary before the next game starts.

  • 1
    Hey, we should restrict ourselves to presenting answers about English, not game mechanics or playing advice. I’d suggest this information is better in a comment than an answer. That said, this rule would not have helped OP in her game: OneLook.com indexes 1,061 independent dictionaries, and not one of them lists orientee.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 12:17
  • Don't listen to him. This is the correct answer. (The "official" dictionary is just a marketing gimmick and the tournament dictionaries are just for tournament play.) The question is about precisely this and, even though it should have been moved by the mods to the gaming stack, it should still be answered correctly.
    – lly
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 14:00
  • @Smock No, it isn't. As above, that was added by a separate editor. The OP just wanted to know about Scrabble validity and should've been punted to the right forum for that question.
    – lly
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 15:32
  • @lly Sorry, I've only just seen that it wasn't in the original OP, and this answer was here before that edit. Edits to OPs are not supposed to invalidate answers. Having looked at the edits, the OP specifically asks about scrabble, so you are correct, and this is the answer. (Perhaps the question of whether it is a word or not should be created in another question)
    – Smock
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 15:37

For SCRABBLE ... there are certain lexicons used in competitions.

ORIENTEE is not in NWL18, nor is any anagram of it. [NASPA word list 2018]

ORIENTEE is not in CSW19, nor is any anagram of it. [Collins SCRABBLE words]

  • OP isn't playing in a tournament. See @jejorda2's answer.
    – lly
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 14:01

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