Playing Scrabble a couple of days ago, the word MOOT was on the board, and I wondered if I could add an S to the front, thus creating SMOOT.
As most folks who live near Boston know, Oliver Smoot was an undergraduate at MIT. He’s best remembered because in 1958, as a pledge to fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha, he was used as a measuring device, laid end to end repeatedly across the Harvard Bridge to determine that the bridge was 364.4 smoots long (plus or minus an ear). Hash marks were painted along the way.
Making the story even better is that Smoot, who earned his Bachelor of Science degree at MIT and his Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University, went on to become Chairman of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and then President of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
But the smoot hasn’t exactly caught on as a unit of measurement.
Yes, it’s an option in Google Calculator, which defines a smoot as exactly 67 inches.
But no, SMOOT is not good in Scrabble. So it’s a good thing I didn’t try it.
However, working off the other end of MOOT, I could have built MOOTS, MOOTED, MOOTER, MOOTERS, MOOTING, MOOTNESS and MOOTNESSES.
Now there’s a word you don’t see every day!