World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0000052100
Reproduction Date:

Title: Charades  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Time's Up! (game), Alma Fiesta, Charade (1984 film), Cards Against Humanity, List of gestures
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Charades (UK , US ), also called charade, is a word guessing game. In the form most played today, it is an acting game in which one player acts out a word or phrase, often by miming similar-sounding words, and the other players guess the word or phrase. The idea is to use physical rather than verbal language to convey the meaning to another party.

In the United Kingdom, the game is traditionally played at Christmas and on New Year's Eve.


It was originally also used to indicate a riddle either in verse or prose, of which the listener must guess the meaning, often given syllable by syllable. In France and Italy the word 'charade' still refers to this kind of written linguistic riddle.

Charades has been made into a television show in the form of the Canadian Party Game and Acting Crazy; the British Give Us a Clue; the Australian The Celebrity Game; the American Play the Game, Movietown, RSVP, Pantomime Quiz and its revival Stump the Stars, Celebrity Charades, and Showoffs and its revival Body Language. Give Us a Clue has also been parodied in Sound Charades, played on the BBC Radio 4 panel game show I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. The ISIHAC version, permits players to speak and so describe a scene (often a pun of the title word), which the opposing team has to guess.

Rules of the acted charade

The rules used for the acted charades are usually informal and vary widely, but commonly agree in essence with the following basic rules:

  • The players divide into two teams.
  • Each team in turn produces a "secret" word or phrase, to be guessed by the other team, and writes it on a slip of paper. Rules vary as to which phrases are allowed; single words may be restricted to nouns as found in dictionaries, while multi-word phrases usually are required to be commonly used phrases, or common expressions for well-known concepts. Often the secret phrases allowed are confined to titles of books, songs, or movies.
  • The slip of paper with the secret phrase is revealed to one member of the other team, the "actor", but kept secret from the remainder of the other team, the "guessers".
  • The actor then has a limited period of time in which to convey the secret phrase to the guessers by pantomime.
  • The actor may not make any sounds or lip movements. In some circles, even clapping is prohibited, while in others, the player may make any sound other than speaking or whistling a recognizable tune.
  • The actor cannot point out at any of the objects present in the scene, if by doing so they are helping their teammates.
  • Most commonly, the actor is allowed to make any gestures other than blatantly spelling out the word. In more stringent sets of rules, indicating anything about the form of the phrase is prohibited, even the number of words, so that only the meaning may be acted out.
  • The guessers attempt to guess the word or phrase based on the actor's performance. They can ask questions, to which the actor may give non-verbal responses, such as nodding in affirmation. If any of the guessers says the correct word or phrase within the time limit in the literal form as written on the slip, their team wins that round; if the phrase is not guessed when the time limit expires, the team that produced the secret phrase wins the round.
  • The teams alternate until each team member has had an opportunity to be the actor.

Since so many rules can vary, clarifying all the rules before the game begins can avoid problems later.

Signals for common words

Some conventions have also evolved about very common words:

  • "A" is signed by steepling index fingers together. Following it with either the stretching rubber band sign or "close, keep guessing!" sign, will often elicit "an" and "and". (sometimes "and" is signed by pointing at ones palm with the index finger)
  • An alternate sign for "close, keep guessing" is to turn a single hand in circles as if saying come on.
  • "I" is signed by pointing at one's eye, or one's chest.
  • "The" is signed by making a "T" sign with the index fingers. The "close, keep guessing!" sign will then usually elicit a rigmarole of other very common words starting with "th".
  • "That" is signed by the same aforementioned "T" with the index fingers and immediately followed by one flattened hand tapping the head for a "hat", thus the combination becoming "that". Following this with the "opposite" sign indicates the word "this."
  • Pretending to paddle a canoe can be used to sign the word "or."
  • For "on," make your index finger leap onto the palm of your other hand. Reverse this gesture to indicate "off." The off motion plus a scissor-snipping action makes "of".
  • Other common small words are signed by holding the index finger and thumb close together, but not touching.
  • Pointing to the ear means "sounds like".
  • For "rhymes with" spin the hands around each other.

See also

External links

  • Generate and Print Cards for Games of Charades
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.