Catch Phrase (game)

Catch Phrase
Players 4 or more
Age range 12 and up
Setup time < 1 minute
Playing time 10 min to 15 min
Random chance Medium
Skill(s) required Team play

Catch Phrase is a word guessing party game commercially available from Hasbro.

Game components

Initially, the game consisted of a timer and a plastic disc that displayed one word at a time. Later, stand-alone electronic devices with built-in random lists of word phrases were made available.

Game play

The game is played in two teams. The goal for each player is to get their team to say the word or word phrase displayed in the disc. One member of a team starts the timer and tries to get his or her team to guess the displayed word or phrase. A clue-giver can make any physical gesture and give almost any verbal clue, but may not say a word that rhymes with any of the words, give the first letter of a word, say the number of syllables, or say part of any word in the clue (e.g., "worry" for "worry wart"). When the team guesses correctly, the other team takes its turn. Play continues until the timer runs out. The team not holding the disc when time runs out scores a point. They also have one chance to guess the word or phrase, with team members allowed to confer; a correct answer earns a bonus point. The first team to score 7 points wins.

Original version

The older version of the game contains discs with 72 words on each side. The word list is advanced by pressing a button on the right side of the disc apparatus. A timer beeps at an increasing rate before randomly buzzing, signaling the end of turn. A scoring sheet is provided.

Electronic versions

A later version, also known as Electronic Catch Phrase, is an electronic game (a device similar in appearance to the original version) with integrated phrase list, timer, and scoring. The game unit has a LCD screen to display the words and buttons to start the timer, advance play, and assign points to teams. Teams must guess the entire phrase as displayed.

A second edition of the electronic game with a changed appearance has a backlit LCD screen and a visual score display rather than the auditory score system.

Word list

The electronic's version's word list contains 10,000 words, which are categorized:


Advanced players and teams tend to forgo the game board. Instead, one person is assigned as the score keeper and tallies the points along the way.

Elimination Variation

A fast-paced and fun variation for large groups is to have multiple teams and play elimination style. Players split up into teams of two and are arranged in a circle, with teammates facing each other.

Since teams are often passed the device with little time left they are forced to try to guess the phrase as quickly as possible as each point they earn moves them closer to elimination. This adds a frenetic pace to the game (especially when the timer starts ticking fast and you know you only have seconds left) and things can get exciting very quickly. To make things a little easier, each team may be allowed to skip one phrase per turn if they think it is too hard to describe in the time available. Each time the timer runs out, the team left holding the device can change the category if they so desire and must announce the new category to the group before starting the next round. The category cannot be changed once the timer has started.

It is considered good sportsmanship for the passing team to skip to the next phrase before passing the device as quickly as possible to the next team, and to start giving clues as soon as possible after receiving the device. If a player waits an unreasonable amount of time (decided by the group as a whole each time an infraction occurs) before passing the device, or before beginning to give clues after receiving the device, that player's team will receive a point and the round ends.

The game is similar to Taboo, also from Hasbro, in which a player tries to get his or her teammates to guess words without using the word in question or five related words.

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