In my search for u-less “q” words (see: qi), I have found two more good ones: “qaid” and “qadi.” Qaid has been listed in Scrabble and other dictionaries for more than thirty years so it should be widely accepted in most friendly Scrabble games. Qadi appears in newer Scrabble editions and might require a bit more negotiation if a current dictionary is not available.
A “qaid” is a Muslim leader. The word can also be spelled caid and has plural forms of qaids and caids. It is usually pronounced “ka-EETH,” rhyming with Sayid , Naveen Andrews’ character on the television show Lost. A second pronunciation, “kithe,” rhyming with the word “tithe,” is also listed. It comes from the Arabic words "al+qadi" meaning “the qadi” or “the judge.”
The Muslim word for judge from which qaid is derived, “qadi,” appears in newer Scrabble dictionaries, immediately before qaid. It is pronounced “kah-dee.” An alternate spelling is cadi and the plural forms are qadis and cadis.
The words qaid and qadi bring to my mind “al Qaida,” the Islamic fundamentalist organization that we all associate with Osama Bin Laden and several terrorist attacks, especially the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. It seems to me that the words qaid, qadi and al Qaida are probably somehow related. However, al Qaida comes from the Arabic words “al+q’ida” meaning “the base” or “the foundation,” which is not exactly the same root as “al+qadi” meaning “the judge.” Still, al+qadi doesn’t seem all that different from al+q’ida, and “the judge” and “the base or foundation” could be considered synonyms of a sort in a legal sense. I guess it is possible that the words are related, but I don’t know for sure.
Few Americans are familiar with the word qaid, even though it has been in our dictionaries, and not just our Scrabble dictionaries, for years. On the other hand, nearly all Americans are familiar with al Qaida, which is not in the dictionary yet. It will get there eventually, and, in time, it may even lose its capital “Q,” become a common noun, and thus become an eligible Scrabble word.
There is precedent for this in the word “nazi,” which has been in Scrabble dictionaries for over thirty years. A member of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party is a Nazi, with a capital “N.” A fascist who holds similar views to the Nazis, but is not necessarily a member of the party, can be called a nazi, without a capital “N.” In fact, anyone who is considered overly regimented or dictatorial in today’s world can be called a nazi. Remember the soup nazi on Seinfeld?
In years to come the word qaida or alqaida might be listed in the dictionary alongside qaid and qadi and be in common usage as a synonym for terrorist. If we have been able to desensitize ourselves to the horrors conjured up by the word Nazi to such an extent that we are now able to use it in Scrabble games and comedy sketches, perhaps we will someday be able to do the same thing with the word al Qaida.