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Hangman

The complete rules for the paper-and-pencil word game Hangman.

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Hangman is a simple paper-and-pencil word game. It can easily be made more or less difficult, making it an excellent choice for adults to play with children.

The television game show Wheel of Fortune is based on Hangman.

Players

2 players. One player chooses a word or phrase to be deduced, and the other guesses letters trying to determine what the word is.

Equipment

All you need to play a game of Hangman is paper and a pencil.

Goal

Each player has a different goal. The goal of the player choosing the word or phrase to be deduced is to come up with one so difficult that the other player cannot guess it before the hangman drawing is complete.

The goal of the player guessing letters is to determine what the word or phrase is before making a pre-determined number of incorrect guesses.

Setup

Decide which player will choose the word or phrase to be deduced. That player draws a gallows and a series of dashes (blanks), one for each letter in the word or phrase. (In a phrase, the spaces between words should be large enough so that it is clear how many words are in the phrase.)

Gameplay

The player who is trying to deduce the word or phrase guesses a letter by saying it out loud.

If the guessed letter is in the word or phrase, the other player fills in all of the appropriate blanks.

If the guessed letter is not in the word or phrase, the other player notes the letter somewhere on the paper and then adds a body part to the hangman drawing.

The Hangman Drawing

In addition to the gallows, the hangman drawing is made up of six body parts, traditionally drawn in this order: head, torso, left arm, right arm, left leg, right leg.

For an easier game, add two parts (hands or feet). For an even easier game, add four parts (hands and feet).

Game End

The game ends when either of the following happens:

  • The hangman drawing is complete; or
  • The player guessing letters announces the word or phrase before the hangman drawing is complete.

Winning

The player choosing the word or phrase to be deduced wins if the other player does not guess the word or phrase before the hangman drawing is complete.

The player guessing letters wins if she announces the word or phrase before the hangman drawing is complete.

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