Put a Letter in the Box

Hint: Best to start with vowels.


Hangman was initially a paper and pencil guessing game for two or more players. One player thinks of a word, phrase or sentence and the other(s) tries to guess it by suggesting letters or numbers, within a certain number of guesses.

The game is now also available online, courtesy of The Free Dictionary.

As the name of the game suggests, the diagram is designed to look like a hanging man. Each failure to guess a letter used in the word produces another segment of the hangman diagram. A player loses when the complete hangman is diagramed. Some people are skeptical about the appropriateness of using this diagram. A common alternative for teachers is to draw an apple tree with ten apples, erasing or crossing out the apples as the guesses are used up.

The exact nature of the diagram differs; some players draw the gallows before play and draw parts of the man’s body (traditionally the head, then the torso, then the arms and legs one by one). Some players begin with no diagram at all, and drawing the individual elements of the gallows as part of the game, effectively giving the guessing players more chances. The amount of detail on the man can also vary, affecting the number of chances. Some players include a face on the head, either all at once or one feature at a time.

The Free Dictionary starts with …

the Gallows, then

the face with features all at once, then

the torso, then

the right arm, then

the left arm, then

the right leg, then

the left leg.
(which means the loss of the game)