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Catch Phrase

An electronic word guessing party game.

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Catchphraseology: The Science of Catchphrase

  • Jan 13, 2010
  • by

For those of you who are unfamiliar, let me introduce you to the game, the myth, the legend – Catchphrase. Regardless of how boring the people around you are, Catchphrase makes any party fun. It can amusingly frustrate the most arrogant verbalist while making the most soft-spoken wall-flower feel like a social genius. It’s a great game, and it is fast-paced and competitive.
The electronic version of Catchphrase makes it the easiest party game out there. The little Frisbee-sized disk has all the clues and count-down timer in one, portable plastic shell. If everyone is seated in some version of a circle, you’re all set. Teams are as large as you want to make them, and anyone next to you is not on your team.
Catchphrase is a modern, talking out-loud version of charades with an ominous, nerve-wracking countdown timer. Once one of your teammate guesses the phrase you’ve been trying to describe, you hit the “next” button on the disk and pass it to the poor sucker on your left, who has even less time to describe the next phrase to her teammates. This hilarity continues until the buzzer goes off and whichever team is holding the disk loses the round.
I’ve played this game with everyone. From family get-togethers over the holidays to house parties with college friends, everyone gets into it. The rounds are fast enough to keep everybody’s attention because it isn’t very long before the disk back is in your hands and you’re scrambling to shout out anything inside of your suddenly vacant brain that will somewhat resonate with the blank faces on your team. Of course, depending on how old or young you are, some phrases will make little to no sense. That’s when you have to attack the phrase with the fearless use of synonyms and non-synonyms.
Often times, the best way for teammates to figure out what phrase you’re trying to convey is by saying what it is not. I’ll quickly say, “not fly into circles, but…”, and my quick-witted teammate will shout out “jump through hoops!” That was a quick example, but often the phrases are much less common and involve much more hand gestures. My teammate holds one hand behind her back and makes a gun with her other hand, “give me all your money,” she says, pretending they’re all as easy as “one-armed bandit.”
If passing the disk is too much effort or the lateness of the hour makes it too cumbersome, just hold onto the disk and give catchphrase clues until the buzzer runs out. Whoever has the most articulate clues and gets the most phrases guessed, wins the game. A lot of times, it isn’t the size of the vocabulary but the ability to relate to your teammate that wins games. Just think, “how does my teammate see the world?” or “what tv shows/movies do they watch?”
It’s only a matter of time before you relay Dostoevsky’s masterpiece “Crime and Punishment” to your Dawson’s Creek obsessed cousin as the episode when Pacey gets in trouble for beating up the kid who vandalized the school mural. I’m not embarrassed, it’s a competitive game, and there are no points for second place.

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February 12, 2010
When my family first received this game as a gift we weren't sure we would like it. You think you're going to be too nervous to come up with clues outloud and under the pressure of the timer. Fortunately, we got over all of that quickly and we discovered it is a fun game. We play men versus women and it can get pretty competitive. Whenever we bring this game out it is ...Game On!
February 13, 2010
Glad you like it, Clay! It's surprisingly easy and comfortable to play. I really like that it pulls people out of their comfort zones and promotes a strong group energy. Hmmm....men vs. women, huh? Never tried that breakdown, but that would make things extra competitive! I like it!
January 20, 2010
Love this game! Best fun I've ever had with friends since Pictionary and the 'twirl thing' (I dunno I forgot). Thanks for this, Bethany!
January 20, 2010
I love this game! I only played it once, but it was good times. I'm not the most outgoing person and didn't think that I'd like it much, but I ended up loving it and my group of friends and I played all night for about 5-6 hours. Can't wait to play it again. Maybe I'll pick up this new version! :)
January 15, 2010
Sounds like great fun!
January 15, 2010
I looked at this after Christmas and though about picking it up. I decided against it....maybe I should reconsider?
January 20, 2010
January 30, 2010
Definitely reconsider! Hours of fun! :)
About the reviewer
Bethany ()
Ranked #20
Hello Lunchers!      I am a contributing writer foran onlinelife and style website that highlights hot-spots in Minneapolis and Chicago. As such, I frequent many new boutiques, restaurants, … more
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About this topic


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 seven 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...

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Games, Entertainment, Party Game, Hasbro, Family Games, Word Games, Party Games, Guessing Games, Word Game, Catch Phrase, Catchphrase, Charades


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