Fictionary, also known as The Dictionary Game or simply Dictionary, is a word game in which players guess the definition of an obscure word. Each round consists of one player selecting and announcing a word from the dictionary, and other players composing a fake definition for it. The definitions are collected by the selector and read aloud, and players vote on which definition they believe to be correct. Points are awarded for correct guesses, and for having a fake definition guessed by another player.
Individual house rules may vary when playing Fictionary, but play usually proceeds like this:
One variation allows a player to vote for their own definition, although they do not get points for doing so. (This can encourage other people to vote for that definition as well, and the player would get those points.) Another variation does not allow a player to vote for their own definition.
Often simple words (e.g., strunt) are more successful than complicated words with detectable Latin roots. Stock phrases such as "Any of several..." or "One or more..." sometimes lend authority to definitions. Players may decide beforehand whether lexicographic labels (e.g., obsolete, geology, dialect, etc.) are to be included. The dictionary might be passed around first, to remind players of its characteristic style.
One variation uses a book of assorted poems instead of a dictionary. A rhyming quatrain is chosen by the picker. The first three lines are read and a fake fourth line must be made up by the other players which acts like the fake definitions.
Another variation asks players to write the first line of a novel using the title and the blurb read out from the back of the book as clues.
The board games Balderdash, Dictionary Dabble, Flummoxed, and Weird Wordz are based on Fictionary. In one round of the board game Derivation, players describe or fabricate a word's etymology; players who provide a correct etymology receive one point for doing so, but their entries are then removed from play, and they lose their chance to receive multiple points by drawing multiple votes from other players. Similarly, in the board game Wise and Otherwise, the Picker randomly chooses a quotation and reads the beginning, and other players try to create realistic endings to the quotation.
In the UK, Call My Bluff was a popular daytime BBC television panel game based on Fictionary. Two teams of three players (journalists, B and C list celebrities, etc.) compete. A player from one team has to decide between the three proposed definitions provided by the opposing team. If the first player correctly identifies the true definition of the word, they earn their team a point. If they are wrong, the team which provided the definitions are awarded the point. Call My Bluff was first aired in October 1965, with Robin Ray as chair. Presenter Robert Robinson chaired it for many years. As of 2003 the programme was chaired by Fiona Bruce.
Other television game shows based on the concept include Take My Word For It and Wordplay. In Japan, Tahoiya (?) featured the game under the same name. The 30 minute late night game show aired on Fuji TV in 1993, and was rebroadcast on Fuji TV 739 satellite channel in 2008. Tahoiya, originally meaning "a cabin used for boar hunting", was one of the chosen words in early game play.
A version of the game called Dixonary has been running online since July 4, 1989, for the first fifteen years on CompuServe in its Tapcis Forum. It is believed that this game is the longest-running on-line game, and has run for more than 2,950 rounds. In May 2005, the game moved to its own website when CompuServe disconnected the forum. Since May 2007 it has been played in a Google Group, found at Dixonary.net. There is an archive of the game that goes back, with minor gaps, to its inception in 1989.
Jackbox Games has produced multiple editions of Fibbage, a game in which the players use their mobile devices to choose categories, write fake answers, and vote for the real answers.
Fictionary Game has been created for iOS devices by Enrique Sureda. It is a Pass & Play game, that is, the device is passed among all of the players. This way people can play Fictionary with a device instead of using paper and pen.