Fictionary (the Game)
Fictionary is a parlor game suitable for about six to ten persons. (The word
"fictionary," as you will see if you search for it on the web, is also used simply for
lists of amusing fictional words or fictional definitions.) I learned this game from friends
Cambridge, Mass. in the late 1960's. I would be interested in hearing from anyone with
knowledge of the game's origins . --
- One dictionary, preferably unabridged.
- A supply of blank 3-inch-by-5-inch cards, or other blank paper or cardstock cut to a uniform
size and shape.
- Pencils or pens.
- The number of rounds played should equal the number of players or a multiple thereof.
For each round, the dictionary passes clockwise to a new person.
- In each round,
- The person with the dictionary finds a word that she thinks the others are unlikely to
know, and announces the word. If any of the others knows the meaning
of the word, that person must say so. (This is an honor-system game.)
Our house rule, to make sure the game moves along, is that the person with the dictionary
has three tries to find a word no one else knows, and if these three tries are unsuccessful the
dictionary passes to the next person. (Actually, this stage of the game can be rather tedious;
a possible improvement would be to have guests come with
several good words that they have located prior to the occasion. [added 10/22/01])
- Once a word has been found that no one knows, the person with the dictionary
writes down on a 3x5 card the dictionary definition or a paraphrase thereof. (If there are
multiple definitions, only one should be used.) Meanwhile the other players write on their
cards either a believable definition for the word, or (if they do not care much about winning)
an amusing definition. Note: everyone should hold their cards oriented the same way
when writing, e.g. with the longer edge horizontal.
- All the other players pass their definitions to the person with the dictionary
(who should try to examine them as soon as received just in case a whispered consultation is
necessary to clarify something in the writing).
- When the person with the dictionary has received all the others' definitions,
she shuffles them together with the real definition, and then reads out all the definitions,
twice through in the same order.
- The other players then vote, starting with the player next to the person who has the
dictionary and proceeding clockwise, each voting for one definition.
- When all have voted, the true definition is revealed, and the round is scored.
A player gets a point for:
The person with the dictionary gets a point only if no one voted for the true definition.
- having voted for the true definition.
- every vote cast for the definition written by that player
Here are a few sample words, each with a list of definitions, only one of which is true.
For the true definitions, click here.
- a tent with roof holes for astronomical observations
- telling fortunes with dregs of hot chocolate
- a dwelling constructed of dried dung
- bad pronunciation
- medical procedure for examination of the retina
- a dwarf coconut tree
- to smoothe the way
- a wooden container for ballast
- a beverage of honey and water
- to rule with kindness
- to besmirch a reputation
- a drip meter
- a method of divination in which a person was wrapped in a fresh bullock's skin and laid
down alone by the bottom of a waterfall
- an elaborate stew prepared only on ceremonial occasions
- a condition of nervous exhaustion brought on by excessive indulgence in running games
- an ancient system of classifying animals by spiritual levels
- a five-roped braid of hair
- a tree in which two or more trunks have fused into one