I’m Thinking of a Word

The Basics

Players sit in a circle. One player thinks of a simple word, but does not share it. Instead she says, “I’m thinking of a word that rhymes with…” and then says a word that rhymes with the word she is thinking. The next player in the circle will try to guess this word, but instead of saying the word, gives a definition of the word she is guessing. The first player then responds with one of two options: 1) “No, it is not ___” and then says the word that was just defined, moving the play to the next person in the circle—or— 2) “Yes, it is _____” and ending the round. The player who guessed correctly then has the honor of picking the next word.

For example, if the first person says “I’m thinking of a word that rhymes with ‘bay’” The next person might say “Is it part of a week?” to which the first player would say “No, it is not a DAY” and so on. As an extra challenge, if one player says “Is it the name of a month?” and the player says “No, it is not MAY” that does not mean it can’t be “A word you say when you give someone permission,” even though it is a word (“may”) that sounds and is spelled the same. It is the definition that is being guessed.

In the Classroom:

  • This is a great game for any age level. It is not often that people are asked to define words, so even though it may seem simple, it is interesting and fun to discover what words people come up with and the ways they are defined.

  • Simple words are ironically harder to guess. There are very few words that rhyme with two or three syllable words, but dozens that rhyme with more simple words.

  • When the first player is not able to say the word being defined, try to have the person who gave the definition be more clear, or have other students help out.

Curriculum Connections:

Elementary: This is a great “word family” review game. Lots of fun, very engaging.

General: In general, it is a great way to pass some time, or just get kids on the same page mentally. A few teachers have reported that they use it as a game to play in the car on long trips with their family. Viola Spolin used it as a warm-up to get kids focused during her theater workshops.


As I mentioned above, I first came across this game in Viola Spolin’s book, Improvisation for the Theater. She, in turn, said that she learned it from her mentor, Neva L. Boyd, and it can be found in her book, Handbook of Recreational Games, as well.