While Scrabble is considerably less stressful than some other game night classics (Sorry!, Monopoly, Settlers of Catan), a good game can easily turn sour as soon as the letter X is introduced to the board. Sure, everyone enjoys a good brain twister now and then, but finding words that start with X is less like a challenge and more like a nightmare—or at least it was, before now. Equipped with this comprehensive compendium of official Scrabble-approved words that start with X, you can take both your vocabulary and your board game prowess to the next level, and your family and friends won’t ever know what hit them.
Xanthan is a type of gum (though not the bubble-blowing chewable kind) used by the food industry as a thickening agent. Its purpose? To prevent ingredients in shelf-stable and refrigerated products from separating (and also scoring you some major points in Scrabble).
For the sake of Scrabble, all you need to know is that xanthate is a chemical salt with letters that add up to 18 points.
Something that is xanthic tends to have a yellow color, similar to how something that is cyanic tends to fall on the spectrum of blues.
When lipids accumulate under the skin, a xanthoma—or a yellowish growth—can appear, usually indicating an underlying medical condition such as hyperlipidemia or hypothyroidism.
The yellow color that you see in an egg yolk is all thanks to xanthophylls. These are yellow-orange pigments found everywhere from plant leaves to paprika.
Using its archaic definition, someone who is xanthous has either red, auburn, brown, or yellowish hair. (So, a lot of people.)
Also sometimes spelled with a “z,” a xebec was a a Mediterranean sailing vessel used primarily for trading goods. And while you probably won’t ever hear this historical word come up in conversation, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use it to dominate in Scrabble.
Coming from the Greek word xenos for guest, xenial describes someone who is being hospitable and amicable, particularly toward a foreigner or guest.
When fish swimming downstream of sewage treatment plants accidentally ingest natural human hormones, it is said that they have consumed xenobiotics. Any substance, whether natural or chemical, can be considered a xenobiotic, so long as it is present in an organism where it isn’t naturally produced.
When a doctor or a scientist makes a xenodiagnosis, they are giving supposedly infected material from a human to an intermediate host (like an insect) to determine whether there is a parasite present.
In the world of botany, xenogamy refers to the pollination of a flower via pollen from a different type of plant, or cross-pollination.
When a piece of living tissue is surgically transferred from one species to another, this is called a xenograft.
A xenolith, or a “foreign rock,” is a rock fragment that becomes absorbs by a larger rock as the latter hardens.
Be careful about playing Scrabble with a chemistry nerd. If there’s an “X” in their rotation of letters, they can break out their knowledge of the periodic table and throw a xenon on the board, scoring a cool 12 points (not including any potential board bonuses).
Do you have a friend whose room is covered in posters of French actresses like Audrey Tautou and Marion Cotillard? They might be a xenophile, or a person who’s enamored by foreign styles, people, and cultures.
Quite the opposite of a xenophile, someone who is xenophobic has an outwardly distaste for anyone and anything foreign.
Meet the xenopus. More commonly known as the clawed frog, it’s a genus of aquatic frogs found primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, twenty species fall within the xenopus genus, and several of them are used as model organisms in biology thanks to their multiple sets of chromosomes.
Xenotime is a group of minerals of a yellowish-brown color, some of which can be mildly radioactive.
When it comes to words that start with X, this one is one of the most downright terrifying. A xenotropic virus is one that grows in an organism other than its typical host species.
When a plant or a flower is described as xerarch, it means that said greenery originated in a dry habitat.
Xeric is an ecological term used to describe both a place that is characteristically dry and something that has adapted to living with little to no moisture. In other words, both a desert and a cactus can accurately be called xeric.
Because of the drought, many Californians have turned to xeriscaping, a type of landscaping that eliminates the need for irrigation almost entirely. Because xeriscaping saves so much water, many people refer to it as “water-conserving landscaping” or “drought-tolerant landscaping.”
If someone tries to challenge you when you put this word on the board, kindly inform them that Xerosis is just one of the fancy words that start with X that refers to dry skin. (Xerotic is another one.)
A xerothermic climate is one that is dry and hot, and an organism that is xerothermic has adapted to living in a dry and hot climate.
Skin that is xerotic is in serious need of some moisturizer, seeing as it’s abnormally dry.
To xerox something is to use a xerographic printer to copy it.
Xerus is a genus of African ground squirrels with three subgenera and four species. These squirrels are sometimes kept as pets in their native Africa, running freely around the house like a cat or dog would in the states.
Xi doesn’t actually mean anything—it’s simply the name of the fourteenth letter of the Greek alphabet—but hey, it’s a two-letter word that counts in Scrabble, so it’s a word worth knowing.
According to the official Scrabble dictionary, the xiphoid is part of the sternum. More specifically, it’s the extension of the lower part of the sternum and it’s referred to in its entirely as the xiphoid process.
As far as two-letter Scrabble words that start with X, Xu is quite practical: it’s a monetary unit in Vietnam similar to America’s penny.
Strap in for a small science lesson: Xylan is a polysaccharide present in almost all plant cell walls, though its function in the cell wall is relatively unknown.
Health nuts will recognize this “X” word. Similar to sorbitol and mannitol, xylitol a sugar alcohol commonly used as a low-calorie artificial sweetener in everything from chewing gum to cake.
A xylocarp is any fruit with a hard, wooden wall, such as a coconut.
If you ever go to a flea market or an art show and come across a wood engraving, then what you’re looking at is a xylograph.
As you might’ve guessed, now that you know what xylograph means, xylography is the art and practice of engraving on wood. And while this word is only a one-letter difference from its root, a”Y” is worth four points in Scrabble!
Xyloid is an adjective used to describe anything either relating to or bearing a resemblance to wood.
An insect that is xylophagous has a diet consisting mostly of wood. Examples of xylophagous insects include bark beetles, horntails, and termites.
One of the more known words that start with X, a xylophone is an instrument in the percussion family made up of wooden bars and a mallet with which to strike them.
Come on. This one is pretty self-explanatory: It’s someone who plays the xylophone.
Xylose is a type of sugar used to make xylitol, the low-calorie sugar substitute. This sugar is the building block for hemicellulose xylan, which is found in and extracted from plants and hardwoods.
Used in many criminal cases, xylotomy is the preparation of pieces of wood for microscopic examination. Most famously, xylotomy was used in the Lindbergh kidnapping trials of the 1930s to prove Bruno Richard Hauptmann guilty.
Xyly has some intense scientific definition pertaining to radicals and atoms. All you need to know is that it’s Scrabble-approved.
Xyst is among the words that start with X that you can use both in Scrabble and at the museum. When describing ancient Greek and Roman architecture, the xyst is the covered porch at the front of a building, generally there to serve as a public walk.
Though now obsolete, a xyster was once a surgical instrument used to scrape bones (and it’s still accepted as a Scrabble word).