A book by the name of “Parlour Games for Modern Families” came into our possession, and with a lazy summer holiday evening stretching in front of us, I elected to choose a game from it and inflict introduce it to the family. Many of the games were already familiar – Charades, 20 Questions, Celebrity Heads, Sardines, most of the card games – or were low-tech versions of existing board games e.g. Battleships, Pictionary. (Although it’s hard to go past Electronic Battleships, with its sound effects of splashing water for a miss and a big explosion for a hit, it’s a little sad that we can’t just play a game without first manufacturing pieces out of cardboard and plastic, sticking it in a box and paying $30+ for it).

It ought to come as no surprise that I went straight for the word games, choosing one called Dictionary (a trademarked version of the game can be bought in a box, complete with board and plastic pieces, for around $30 secondhand…). The rules go like this:

Each person takes turn being the reader, choosing a word from the dictionary that they think nobody in the game will know (If the meaning is known to another player, another word is chosen). The reader writes the definition on a piece of paper, and the other players do the same, keeping their definitions hidden from the rest of the players. All pieces of paper are handed to the reader, who then reads out the definitions in random order. The other players then take it in turns to guess which definition was the correct one. Players get two points for guessing the correct answer, one point if another player guesses their made-up answer is correct, and two points to the reader if nobody guesses correctly.

It took a few turns for the younger members of the family to get the hang of writing a convincing-sounding dictionary definition, but by about word #4, we were really struggling to discern real from fake. Here are a couple of samples:


Hint: This is what the aftermath of too much zythum might look like.

Definition 1: A bottomless pit.
Definition 2: A malt beverage used in Ancient Egypt.
Definition 3: Mesopotamian musical instrument.
Definition 4: A drug for the treatment of an enlarged thyroid gland.
Definition 5: The circulatory system of a plant responsible for carrying vitamins.

Definition 1: The failure to articulate a word due to the presence in the mouth of excess saliva.
Definition 2: The celebration of the birthday of one of royal blood.
Definition 3: The act of a camel expelling mucus to express aggression or displeasure.
Definition 4: Government or guiding control.
Definition 5: A gum or chewing candy popular in the pre-war era.

The winner – by one point – was my husband, for whom the victory was particularly sweet because he considers himself the least academically-minded member of the family (except for the dog. The dog wasn’t even allowed to play). I put it down to his finely-honed ability to detect bull… balderdash that gave him the edge.

As for me…I clearly need to spend more time browsing through the dictionary.





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