Sunday, February 7, 2016

7-Letter Sunday: RETAINS

At first glance, retains is a rather boring word. It basically means to have, to keep, to hold onto. You can retain a deed to a property, a fact in your head, or a lawyer by paying him a fee (called, of course, a retainer). In this photo, the wall retains the soil behind it:

It originates in the Latin re (back) + tenere (to hold). That led to the old French retenir and then in turn to Middle English reteynen, which became our word, retain.

For Scrabble fans, though, retains is a bit magical, for two reasons. First, it's one of the easier 7-letter words to find on your rack, since all of its letters are very common ones. If you find yourself with a rack full of low-scoring letters, take a quick glance to see if RETAINS is lurking.

Second, it has the most anagrams of any 7-letter Scrabble word -- eight other words! This gives you lots of options to maximize your score when playing these letters, or to get a bingo on the board at all when things start to crowd up.

Thus, it's good to take a look at the anagrams of RETAINS. Most competitive Scrabble players know these by heart:

  • ANESTRI - periods of sexual dormancy; plural of ANESTRUS
  • ANTSIER - comparative of ANTSY; even more jittery or hyper
  • NASTIER - even more mean or hostile
  • RATINES - RATINE is a heavy, loosely woven fabric; RATINES is the plural
  • RETINAS - the RETINA is a part of the eye; RETINAS is the plural
  • RETSINA - an alcoholic drink in Greece; a resin-flavored wine

    Athens :: Retsina Malmatina by tomislavmedak, on Flickr
    "Athens :: Retsina Malmatina" (CC BY 2.0) by  tomislavmedak 
  • STAINER - a person or a thing that stains
  • STEARIN - the solid part of an animal or vegetable fat

This is an excellent list to retain in your memory!

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