How to play Charades

Charades (pronounced she-rahdz) is a popular word guessing game. It is an acting game in which one player acts out a word or phrase, often by pantomiming similar-sounding words, and the other players guess the word or phrase. The idea is to use physical rather than verbal language to convey the meaning to another party

The rules of the acted charades used vary widely and informally, but these rules, in some form, are common to most players:

  • The players divide into two teams.
  • Each player takes a random card with a word/phrase written on it (create these here at and then has a limited period of time in which to convey this to his teammates.
  • No sounds or lip movements are allowed. In some circles, even clapping is prohibited, while in others, the player may make any sound other than speaking or whistling a recognizable tune.
  • The actor cannot point out at any of the objects present in the scene, if by doing so he is helping his teammates.
  • Usually, any gesture is allowed other than blatantly spelling out the word, but some play that indicating anything about the form of the phrase is prohibited, even the number of words, so that only the meaning may be acted out.
  • The teams alternate until each team member has had an opportunity to act out their card.

Since so many rules can vary, clarifying all the rules before the game begins can avoid problems later.

How to act out your Charade

Each category has its own action which you must perform initially to tell the others what you are about to try and describe. These are as follows:

  • Quote/Saying - Make quote signs with 2 fingers on both hands
  • Movies - Pretend to use an old fashioned film camera, cranking a handle to operate it and looking through the lense
  • Books - Open a pretend book with your hands
  • Music/Songs - Simulate sound coming out of your mouth with your hands
  • TV - Draw a television shaped rectangle in the air with your hands
  • Plays - Pretend to pull the ropes of a theatre curtain
  • People - Stand with your hands on your hips
  • Location - Draw an Earth with your fingers, then point somewhere in the middle
  • Event - Point at your watch (or just your wrist if you're not wearing one)
  • Word/Phrase - Similar to Quote/Saying, make quote signs with your hands

How to give clues without speaking

As well as identifying what it is you will be acting out for your audience, you will need to know the ways of giving further clues without speaking. Below are a list of common actions you can perform to help your charade to be guessed

  • Think!! - point at your head and wave your finger in a circle
  • Number of words in the phrase - Hold up the appropriate number of fingers, e.g. hold up 5 fingers to show it's a phrase with 5 words
  • Which word you are working on - Hold up the number of fingers again, e.g. hold up 3 fingers to show you're working on the 3rd word
  • Number of syllables in the word - Rest one finger per syllable on your arm and show the audience
  • Which syllable you're working on - Rest the number of fingers on your arm to show which syllable you're working on
  • Length of word - Make a little or big sign with your hands as if you were measuring a fish
  • Sounds like / Rhymes with - Pull your earlobe

How to play Charades video