How To Play Catchphrase: Catchphrase Game Rules


Catchphrase is a fun word game played in teams. It is a great game for a party or a family occasion. The game is simple and easy to learn. It can be played by people from the age of 12 upwards. This post describes the electronic version but there is a board version played pretty much in the same way but with different equipment.


The objective is to be the first team to reach 7 points by guessing words correctly.

Catchphrase Rules

There is a very important rule which guides how a player can describe a word to their teammates. A player is allowed to describe a word to their teammates using sounds and pantomime but is not allowed to:

  1. Give the first letter of the displayed word
  2. Use a word that rhymes with the displayed word
  3. Use part of the displayed word e.g. Basket when describing Basketball

Number of Players Needed

2 teams are needed to play the game. Each team must have at least 2 players.


Game unit


Setting Up

First, the players are divided into two teams preferably of equal size. The team to go first is decided and will be Team 1 while the second team will be Team 2. The players are arranged in an alternating way such that each player is next to a member of the opposing team and can easily pass the game unit to them.

Then the game unit is switched on using the Start/Stop button. Ensure the team scores on the game unit display is 0 for both teams otherwise, reset the scores by pressing and holding down both the Team 1 and Team 2 score buttons at the same time. Next, the teams select a category they want to compete in. The default category on the game unit is “Everything”, a category which uses all the words in the game. You can select more specific categories such as Entertainment, Food, Places, Sci-Tech, Sports & Games, and The World using the Advance button. Once you scroll to the desired category, stop on it.

To begin the game, a player from Team 1 will press the Timer button on the game unit. Once this is pressed, the category can no longer be changed and the team scores will be hidden. To display the next word in the game, the Advance button is used.

How to Play Catchphrase

The game is played in rounds and begins with a player from Team 1. This player starts the game by pressing the Timer button. A word appears on the game unit and only this player can see it. This player must then describe the displayed word to their teammates in such a way that they can guess the word.

The clues this player gives to their teammates can be verbal or physical gestures but must not run afoul of the rules of the game. While giving clues about a displayed word to their teammates, a player is not allowed to:

  1. Give the first letter of the displayed word
  2. Use a word that rhymes with the displayed word
  3. Use part of the displayed word e.g. Basket when describing Basketball

If a player is caught cheating when describing a word to their teammates, that player must immediately press the Stop/Start button to shut the timer off. The other team is automatically awarded one point for that round. If a player sticks to the rules of the game, they continue to give clues to their teammates while their teammates continue to guess the word until the buzzer sounds.

If the team holding the game unit is unable to guess the word correctly till the buzzer goes off, the other team not holding the game unit is awarded a point. This team also gets just one chance to guess the word, if they guess correctly, they earn a bonus point, giving them 2 points for that round.

If the team holding the game unit manages to guess the word correctly, the player from that team must hand over the game unit to the next player from the opposing team to verify. Once it is ascertained that the word was guessed correctly, the player that was handed the game unit will press the Advance button for the next word to be displayed. This player will then begin to describe the displayed word to their teammate. The process is repeated until a team scores 7 points.

Scores are entered on the game unit only after the Timer runs out or is stopped. The team holding the game unit at the end of the timer awards the point(s). If the team with the game unit guessed the displayed word correctly, they award themselves 1 point by pressing the button that corresponds to their team, either the Team 1 or Team 2 button once. If this team loses either due to cheating or running out of time, they must award 1 point to the winning team by pressing the button for the winning team once. If the winning team manages to score a bonus point, the button for that team is pressed one more time.

Winning the Game

The game continues until a team scores a total of 7 points. The first team to reach 7 points wins a game of catchphrase.

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