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Forbidden Letters

various letters in forbidden sign
No. of Players: 2+
Type of Game: spoken
What you need: nothing


To answer questions without using words containing specific letters.

How to play

One player becomes the questioner and selects a forbidden letter. The questioner then asks questions of each of the other players in turn. These questions must be answered using words that do not contain the forbidden letter. A player that uses the forbidden letter is out of the game. The last player left is the winner and becomes the questioner for the next round. To enhance the enjoyment of the game, questioners should ask questions they know lead to answers with the forbidden letter. For added difficulty, the questioner could make two or more letters forbidden at the same time.


Alice is elected to be the first questioner. She tells the players the forbidden letter is S.

Alice: What day is today?
Brian: The day before Monday.
Alice: How old are you?
Cecilia: I am one year older than twenty-five.
Alice: What metal has the symbol AG?
Dermot: The metal in the Olympic medal given for runner-up.
Alice: What is your first name?
Elise: It's actually Joan!
Alice: You're out. You may not have said Elise, but you did say it's. Where do kids go to learn?
Brian: In a room in a building with a teacher.

And so on.

Did you know?

The historical origins of the question mark is (pardon the pun) a bit of a question mark.

scroll with letters and words QUESTIO, QO, and ?

One theory says that scholars in the Middle Ages would write the Latin word quaestio at the end of a sentence to show it was a question. Since this was rather cumbersome to write out each time, it was eventually abbreviated. First to qo, then to q on top of o, and finally into the "?" symbol we know today. This is much like how our own cursive signature, which we once perfected in third grade, eventually morphed into the squiggly lines we now use as adults. But alas, there is little evidence to back up this theory.

cat with tail in shape of question mark, with Egyptian pyramids

A competing theory, also unsubstantiated, argues that the curve of the question mark traces back to the ancient Egyptians. Since Egyptians were famed for their worship of cats, it makes sense they would have been inspired by the similar shape of an inquisitive cat's tail.

man thinking, with question marks

In the end, perhaps it's appropriate this question remains a mystery. What do you think?

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