We came up with a new game in the van a couple of weeks ago. Sophie and Noah and I played for some time. I’m not sure I should really play while driving, as it consumes a fair bit of my mental acuity. But whatever.

It starts out with the Chooser saying “I’m thinking of a word…”

And it can be any word that you might find in a dictionary. The Guessers then suggest a possible word. “Marmot?” someone might ask.

“Too early,” the Chooser says, meaning it’s too early in the dictionary.


“Too late.”

And so it goes. Until we gradually get down to third and fourth-order alphabetizations.


“Too late.”


“Too early.”


“Too early.”

“Ack! What’s an S-I-M word that has a fourth letter later than P?” says one Guesser.

“Well,” reminds another Guesser, “it could be S-I-M-P, but just be later than the L. Like SimPro or something, if that was a word. But it’s not. That sounds like an upgrade for The SIMS2.”

My hypothetical word was ‘simpleton,’ which is of course not ‘later than the L’ but it is later than ‘simple.’ So you can see this starts getting very mind-bending. Especially if you’re doing it all orally, without putting anything in writing.

Alphabetization Brainsmash

4 thoughts on “Alphabetization Brainsmash

  • July 25, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Sounds like a great game. I probably couldn’t play it while driving though!

  • July 26, 2008 at 8:11 am

    Great game! I’ll be flying with my youngest next month, and I’m adding this to my bag of tricks. Bonus that it takes no space.

  • August 3, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    There’s an online version of this game called Word Sandwich (www.wordsandwich.com) which uses 5-letter words. I encountered it first as a 4-letter game, it was explained to me by a friend who had recently played it with someone whose chosen word was “baby” – her way of announcing a long-awaited pregnancy.

    I always enjoy your blog, Miranda,


  • August 8, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    Good game! Will add it to our car games. We are really enjoying “Animal, vegetable or mineral” at the moment. One person thinks of a thing, and categorises it by the above categories, thereafter the others take turns to ask questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no”. If the first guesser gets a “no”, the next guesser gets a turn. You can limit it to 20 questions, but we haven’t been playing that version. You can find variants of the game on Wiki under Twenty Questions. We also used to do “where in the world am I?”, with a strict 20 question limit.

    The categories in animal, vegetable or mineral are not as simple as they look, with paper, cotton and wood counting as “vegetable” and of course “your sister’s big toe” as “animal”. In a very short time, DS went from not quite getting categories to nearly stumping his parents with “The Missing Link” and “Pluto” (no, it’s not a planet).

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