I think these are the best word games ever invented. Let me explain why...
Not sure which word game, or even what type of game, you're after? Maybe this page will help. I've organized dozens of great word games into categories to help you find the right game for the occasion. If a category isn't highlighted as a link, it just means that I haven't quite finished polishing that page yet, so stay tuned!
Below is an alphabetical listing of the all-time classic word games. I consider this collection to be the must-haves that form the core of any serious word-gamer's cabinet. Some are great strategical games, some are terrific educational resources, and others are fantastic ice-breakers for parties. What they have in common though, is that they are all great fun to play for a whole range of age levels and abilities.
I've kept the descriptions brief so you can quickly skim the list looking for some inspiration. Whenever a more detailed article exists somewhere on my site, I'll link you to it so you can get more information about the game if you're interested. Or you can just click an image to add a game to your own cabinet ;-)
Apples to Apples
Apples to Apples can be learned in seconds. In each round, a judge (a rotating role), turns over a green card which has an adjective written on it (e.g. Dirty, Weird, Unfortunate, etc.). The players, who each have a set of red cards with nouns printed on them, each select a noun they think best goes with the adjective (e.g. Dirty Dishes, Dirty Minds, Dirty Money, etc.).
The judge for that round selects the noun they like best (either because they think it's the most appropriate, the least appropriate, the funniest, or whatever). Players get a point each time their noun gets selected.
It's a ridiculously simple recipe - but the results will have you in stitches!
In a game of Balderdash, players have to come up with definitions for bizarre words, and convince everybody else that their definitions are correct.
You get extra points if you actually know the correct definition of a word - but don't expect that to happen very often! Most of the fun is in trying to keep a straight face while the definitions are being read aloud so that you don't give the game away.
Party Games, Vocabulary Games, Board Games
Other Balderdash Games
Beyond Balderdash - extends the game beyond the realm of words to the world of trivia.
Boggle is a wordsearch game in which the objective is to find as many words as you can from a 4-by-4 letter grid under a time limit. In each round, the letter grid is formed by a player jumbling up 16 letter-cubes, which fall into a plastic container making a grid.
You find words by starting at one letter and moving through adjacent letters, without repeating a letter you've already visited. You score more points for longer words (three is the minimum), but you don't score any points at all for words that other players have also found.
As to which words are valid, there is no official Boggle dictionary, but since the allowed words are very similar to those in Scrabble, I recommend you use the Official Scrabble Dictionary.
In a nutshell, Catch Phrase! is 'Hot Potatoes with words'. Everyone sits around in a circle and an electronic timer is passed around. Just like a time-bomb, you have to make sure you're not holding the thing when it goes off (which it does at unpredictable times!). What does this have to do with words?
Well, you're only allowed to pass the timer along after you have managed to help your team guess a word that displays on the timer (the word changes each time the timer is passed along). So you've got to help your team guess the word by providing clues subject to some understandable rules, such as not using 'sounds-like' hints.
Catchphrase is more about luck, tension-building, and quick-thinking, than finding out the smartest person in the room. This makes it ideal for situations where you want some laughs, without making anybody feel stupid.
Party Games, Communication Games, Electronic Games
Scattergories is designed to test and enhance fast, creative thinking. I have to admit, I'm not very good at it because I'm better at more strategic games where you have a bit of time to analyze things. Nonetheless, this one is great fun - and especially good for parties!
Firstly, it's called Scattergories because of the fact that it is all about categories of things. Dozens of them! For each round you are assigned a category, and a letter of the alphabet. Your job is to list as many things as you can belonging to the given category, and starting with that letter. Oh... and you want to think of things that nobody else will think of too - because you won't get points for repeats :-(
Sound a bit too simple? Try it now - your category is weapons, and your letter is D...
Party Games, Creative Thinking Games, Vocabulary Games
If I had to choose the best of the best word games, it would without a shadow of doubt be Scrabble. I talk enough about Scrabble on other pages, so I don't want to bore you here. Let me just summarize it for you...
Players draw random letters (called tiles) from a tile bag, and take turns at using these letters to form new words on the board, building up a kind of 'crossword' in the process.
The Scrabble board contains premium squares (such as Double-Letter Squares, Triple-Word Squares, etc.) that you try to use to increase the score for each word that you play.
For most people who play this game, the greatest pleasure you can experience is when you play a word that uses up all seven of your tiles to form a single word. Such a move is called a Bingo, or sometimes a Bonus, and it nets you 50 extra points!
Party Games, Vocabulary Games, Board Games, Anagram Games, Spelling Games, Strategy Games
Taboo is an all-time classic party game that is a bit like Charades, only it relies entirely on words. In each round, a representative from each team has to help their team mates guess the word written on their card. There is a catch of course...
Players are not allowed to mention any of a list of Taboo words written on their card. It doesn't seem too hard until you find that every word that jumps into your mind immediately turns out to be Tabooed!
Since each round is timed, you'll need be super fast and creative to score as many points as possible. If you can stop laughing, that is ;-)
Text Twist is a solo computer game, where the basic idea is to form as many words as you possibly can from a given set of letters. In the free version of the game, you have six letters, while in the full version of the game, you have seven. A timer counts down the seconds while you try to build all possible words (including the word/s using the full set of letters) against the clock.
I like playing Text Twist to practice anagramming and word-building, for games like Scrabble. It has a much more dynamic and exciting interface than a boring old set of flash cards! For most players though, it's just a fun, and very addictive, way to kill time. For these people Text Twist is the word-buff's answer to Solitaire and Mine Sweeper.
Computer Games, Anagram Games, Spelling Games, Solitary Games
On the surface of it, Upwords looks just like a 3-dimensional version of Scrabble. Actually, though, its scoring and letter-placement rules make it a different game altogether.
Unlike Scrabble, players are allowed to place letters on top of existing letters, as long as they form valid words in the process. The more letters underneath any letter you play, the more you score - so forming high stacks is the name of the game.
Also, the board has no premium squares (Double-Letter Squares and so on), and all letters have a face value of just one point (so you won't be saving up the Z for 10 points!). This completely changes the nature of the game. In particular, anagramming becomes less important, because you get greater rewards for replacing letters in an existing word, than for making a completely new word by unscrambling the letters on your rack.
Which words are you allowed to use? The rules for valid words are the same as in Scrabble, so I recommend you use the Official Scrabble Dictionary.
Board Games, Anagram Games, Crossword Games, Strategy Games