Word of the Week (127): COQUITO (probability 23914), by David Sutton

The COQUITO is a kind of palm tree growing in Chile. It is one of those words where the playability value (4882) is wildly different from the probability value: in other words in games between computers it is found to be played far more often than the probability of picking those letters would suggest. Whether this is true in games between human players is another matter, since it relies on knowing the word in the first place, but now you will have no excuse.

Among trees, palm trees are a particularly rich source of exotic vocabulary. South America alone offers us the COROZO, the COHUNE, the CARNAUBA (or CARNAHUBA) that yields a fine yellowish wax, the PAXIUBA, that has stilt-like roots, the BURITI, and the BUSSU with its gigantic leaves that serve for cloth; this last is perhaps better known to Scrabble players as the TROELIE, TROELY or TROOLIE.

Then there is the JUPATI, the JIPIJAPA (or JIPYAPA), the MACAHUBA (or MACOYA), whose nuts yield a violet-scented oil, the MORICHE, whose sap is used to make wine, and the PIASABA (or PIASAVA, PIASSABA or PIASSAVA), which yields a coarse stiff fibre used for making brooms and a hard brown nut called a COQUILLA that is used by button-makers and turners.

And of course the really ambitious player should never forget that the PIASAVA is also known as the CHIQUICHIQUI. More palm trees from other parts of the world next week.


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