Buzzword Game Overview: Set-Up and How to Play

Updated May 18, 2022
Family sitting on couch, playing game

The Buzzword board game is a fun, family-friendly card game that tests your ability to solve clues and figure out the saying before the timer runs out. This is the perfect party game to play because the more players that participate, the better shot your team has of solving the Buzzword phrases.

Playing the Buzzword Board Game

The board game Buzzword works for kids ages 10 and older and is a fun game for adults to play too. You will need at least four players to participate, giving each team a minimum of two players. Teams can have more than two players, though it's ideal to stick with six or fewer people per team. To win Buzzword, each team must solve the most clues with 50 points as the final winning score. It generally takes about an hour to play a round of Buzzword, but you can set a time limit or establish a different cut-off score to suit your playing needs.

Buzzword Game Playing Pieces and Setup

This lively and addictive word game requires minimal set-up and is easy enough so the entire family can play together. The game includes:

  • 400 sets of Buzzword clues on 200 double-sided cards
  • 10 scoring cards
  • 45-second sand timer
  • Scoreboard
  • Marker
  • Instructions

There isn't a game board, so no specific setup is required. Once you unbox the pieces, you'll be ready to begin.

Buzzword Game Cards

How to Play the Buzzword Board Game

Before the game can begin, players must form two teams. Assign a name to each team, or let the members brainstorm on what they want to be called. Write each team's name on the scoreboard with the marker.

  1. That team that is going first will need to put someone in charge of reading clues. That person will draw a card that contains a "Buzzword" and 10 clues.
  2. They will need to start the timer and read through the clues one at a time while their teammates guess the answers.
  3. The answer to each clue must include the "Buzzword." For example, if the "Buzzword" is "apple," and the first clue is "The object of my affection," the answer would be "Apple of my eye." If the "Buzzword" is "ball," the clues and answers could be:
    • The clue "inflatable sand toy" would have an answer of "beach ball."
    • The clue "on top of spaghetti" would yield an answer of "meatball."
    • The clue "a psychic stares into one" should have the answer "crystal ball."
  4. Once a clue has been guessed correctly or the team has opted to "pass" on a clue, the reader should go to the next clue.
  5. One point is awarded for each correct answer the team gets before the timer runs out. Record the score on the scoreboard.
  6. Any unanswered clues are given to the opposing team for a chance to steal a point, so be sure to keep answers to yourself once your turn has come to an end.
  7. Once the timer ends, the second team repeats the steps above. The teams continue switching off until one of the teams reaches 50 points.
  8. The first team to reach 50 points wins the game.

Winning Buzzword Strategies

If you have a fairly good memory and the gift of gab, then you will do very well playing Buzzword. The easiest way to win is to pick solid team members who are good with riddles. Other strategies include:

  • Playing with more teammates. The more people who play, the greater the chance your team has of solving the clues and earning points.
  • Expose yourself to common sayings so you're familiar with potential clue answers when it comes to playing.
  • Read often. Reading not only builds your vocabulary, but it can also give you a leg up when it comes to your comprehension skills.
  • Play other word play and riddle games to keep your mind sharp.

Buzzword Game Editions

With the game's popularity, a few new versions have been released over the years to keep the game up to date. Versions and updates include:

  • 2003 French Buzzword: Allowing French speaking individuals to get in on the fun
  • 2010 Edition: An update from the 2003 edition with new clues and buzzwords
  • Buzzword Junior: Specially made for kids seven and up
  • 2012 Version: An updated version with different clues and buzzwords

There isn't a current edition, but you may be able to snag the game from an eBay, Amazon merchant, or another reseller. Expect to pay more than $50, unless you are lucky enough to find the game at a yard sale or thrift store.

Pros and Cons of Buzzword Game

Buzzword is an ideal game for small parties or family get-togethers. The original version is recommended for individuals age 10 and up, but any quick-thinking youngster could contribute to his team provided he understands the rules of the game. Buzzword Junior is also a great option for those younger than 10 years old who would like to play. If your family enjoys playing games like Taboo or Catch Phrase, then Buzzword is a definite must-have for your game collection. Like its counterparts, the game has advantages and drawbacks.

Pros of Buzzword Game

There's a lot to like about Buzzword. The game's positive features include:

  • Easy set-up: The game takes less than a minute to get ready. What's more, it's a fast-moving game, which means it can be played twice in one night.
  • Fun and funny: Not only is Buzzword an enjoyable game to play on family game night, but some answers players give are hilarious. The players may have to take a break just to compose themselves before continuing with the clue-giving.
  • Great party game: Buzzword is made for small groups. It's the perfect game to play at sleepovers, family gatherings, or parties. It's lively and entertaining, plus it keeps your mind active and is a great memory exercise.
Sand in hourglass

Cons of Buzzword Game

While Buzzword is fast-paced and easy to play, the game does have a few minor drawbacks. For example:

  • Restrictions: Buzzword's biggest downfall is that you can't make up your own clues. Rather, you must use the clues printed on the cards. This can stifle a person's creativity a bit, but it also ensures that the clue-reader doesn't get stuck trying to think of a clue to give. This is especially important given that you are only allotted 45 seconds to give clues.
  • Group game: Buzzword is not a game you can play solo. You need a minimum of four players to get the ball rolling. The game doesn't lend itself to large numbers of players either. When you have more than six individuals on one team, it gets tough to decipher what everyone is saying.
  • Age matters: A well-versed child could do quite well, but age does come into play with some of the Buzzwords. Some clues can be challenging for children, especially those who haven't been alive long enough to know that "Packers" refers to the Green Bay Packers and "Packers fans' fashionable headgear," is a clue for "cheesehead."

Having Fun Playing the Buzzword Board Game

Buzzword is an awesome option to play with friends and family members ages 10 and older. Not only is this game a great learning tool for younger kids, but it's also a fun game for adults to play as well. Everyone who joins in is sure to have a blast putting their language arts skills to work.

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Buzzword Game Overview: Set-Up and How to Play