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10 Great Word Games

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by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
Published November 13th 2012
To Play With Family Friends, And On Your Tod
[ADVERT]Aren't words great? Where would we be without them? Just imagine a world without words: no stories, no conversations, before language was invented, the world must have been a very boring place.

Talking about boredom, what better way to eradicate dull days than with a good game? And what better game to play than one that uses words.

There are hundreds of word games - ones to play on your own, ones to play with friends - but here is a list of some of my favourites.

1. Scrabble


You can't write a list of word games without including Scrabble. Created in 1938 by American architect, Alfred Mosher Butts, it is probably the most popular board game in the world.

As a two to four player game, it is perfect for families. Saturday was always family fun night at my grandparents house. My dad and I would go round of an evening, and Scrabble would be laid out ready and waiting on Gramps's kitchen table. Oh what fun we had: Dad would spend what felt like an hour on a single turn, Gramps would struggle to read the letters on his board, and Grandma would invent new rules whenever things weren't going her way. We all used little word computers to check our spellings, but half the time words would show up on one computer, and not on another. This led to many a dispute. My vocabulary definitely expanded from playing Scrabble, although it has proved little use since most of the words we all came up with were so obscure that they are never used in day-to-day life.

2. Boggle

I absolutely adore Boggle, but if like my family, no one else has an affinity for this word finding game, you can play by yourself and just try to beat your personal best score.

There are sixteen lettered dice in a tray, which you shake up at the start of the game. The aim is then to find and write down as many three or more letter words as you can within the time limit. You can make words horizontally, vertically or diagonally, and the longer the word, the more points you get.

3. Balderdash

Balderdash is a bluffing game invented by Canadians Laura Robinson and Paul Toyne in 1984. A game that will test your dictionary knowledge, Balderdash is a group game, in which a card is drawn with a word on it. The players will then write down a true or false definition of what the word means and you have to decide which is correct.

4. Word Search

word search

When you have a long train journey ahead of you, or there is nothing on the TV, then a word search is a fun way to fill up the time. I once had an entire book of word searches with over a hundred to complete, and with their various themes and difficulty levels, it kept me occupied on those rainy days.

5. Hangman

For the sadist in all of us. Who hasn't ever enjoyed hanging their best friend by a noose as they struggle to guess whatever word you are thinking of? The thing that gets me is, that by the time you have drawn the head and the body, there is not much point in drawing the arms and legs. You're already hung.

6. Anagrams

The most famous anagrams game is the British TV show, Countdown. Contestants choose how many vowels or constants they want to work with, then with nine randomly selected letters, the two players have to find the longest word they can within the thirty second time limit. The person with the longest word is the winner. My Gramps loves watching this show, and I enjoy trying to find the words you can make. I'm pretty rubbish because I spend the entire thirty seconds worrying about how much time I have left. If the timer is not on me though, I can eventually find a good number of words, although I have never managed to get a full nine-letter word.

7. Crossword

Every newspaper has a different style of giving clues. I really hate the cryptic ones as I can never figure them out, but the ones that are based on general knowledge are quite fun. There is always an occasion where the answer is on the tip of your tongue and you just can't get it out. Fortunately in frustrating moments like that Google is at hand. Just think how difficult it was to find the answer before the internet arrived.

8. Ghost

Ghost is a parlour game, and not very well known. It is played with two people, and all you need is a pencil and piece of paper. The first player thinks of a word, and writes down the first letter. The second player then thinks of a word starting with that letter and writes the next letter down. The aim of the game is not to be the person to finish the word. For example:

1. Player one thinks of 'carrot' and writes 'C'
2. Player two thinks of 'copious' and writes 'Co'
3. Player one thinks of 'copper and writers 'Cop'
4. Player two thinks of 'copious' and writes 'Copi'
5. Player one thinks of 'coping' and writes 'Copin'
6. With no other choice, player two finishes the word 'Coping', and is the loser.

9. Word Square

Word squares can be really hard to solve. It is a special type of acrostic, and consists of words written out in a square grid that can be read both horizontally and vertically. You can try making your own up, or solving ones in puzzle books. No easy task, I can tell you.

10. Bookworm

Bookworm, popcap, games

Bookworm is an addictive computer puzzle game developed by Popcaps. It is pretty much the online version of Boggle, and one of the few Flash games that I allow myself to waste my time with.
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Why? Get those brain cells working
When: Anytime
Where: At home
Cost: You can buy the board games relatively cheap
Your Comment
We play a great word card game when we get together as an extended family - Quiddler. Can be purchased on internet and very addictive.
by jenni (score: 1|41) 3514 days ago
I loved hangman as a child and recently started playing it with my 7 year old. Such a fun simple game!
by Where I Holiday (score: 2|338) 3511 days ago
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