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Initial Words

No. of Players: 2+
Type of Game: spoken
What you need: nothing


To collectively write a sentence whose words have initials that spell other words.

How to play

The first player starts a sentence by saying a word. The second player adds a word, but the initial letters of the two words must form a two-letter word. The next player does the same, adding another word so that the initials of the three words form a three-letter word, and so on. For example, one player starts the sentence with The, the second player adds the word otter (forming the word to from their initials), the next player adds the word navigated (forming ton), and so on. A player who cannot think of a word to add under these constraints must drop out. The last player who is able to successfully add a word is the winner.

Alternatively, words can be added to the sentence so long as an initial word can potentially be completed with the addition of future words. Players can be challenged to prove what word they were thinking of with their addition. For example, a player who adds the word under to the growing sentence The red onion... is challenged. But the player proves his case by pointing out how the word trout could be formed by adding a T-word (like the) to the sentence on the next turn. The challenge is therefore overturned and the challenger must drop out.


Angelo: Nobody...
Brighton: Nobody oiled...
Clarissa: Nobody oiled the...
Darius: Nobody oiled the equipment...
Angelo: Nobody oiled the equipment directly...
Brighton: No letter added to 'noted' makes a new word.
Angelo: Ok, let's start again. But this time let's include potential words as well. Mika...
Brighton: Mika yanked...
Clarissa: Mika yanked the...
Darius: Mika yanked the horse...
Angelo: Mika yanked the horse into...
Brighton: We can make 'mythic' or 'mythical,' but I can't think of a C-word that will fit the sentence. I'm out.
Clarissa: Mika yanked the horse into Chicago...

And so on.

Did you know?

Meet Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff of Philadelphia, PA. Long name, but at least he has the typical number of initials to shorten his name, right? Nope! Because that's actually his abbreviated name! His full name reads as:

letters ABCDEFGHI in red

Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William Xerxes Yancy Zeus

letters JKLMNOPQR in red

That's right, Hubert has 27 names. But it could be worse. Because if he ever needs to initialize a document, all he needs to do is to write down every letter of the alphabet, in order, with an additional W tacked onto the end. Kinda weird, but that's what makes life so interesting!

letters STUVWXYZW in red

Here's something else most people don't know. According to Guinness World Records, the shortest abbreviation is L.A. These familiar letters abbreviate the Spanish name of Los Angeles when it was originally founded as a pueblo: El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula. This translates as "The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porziuncola." Abbreviating a 55-letter name to just 2 letters represents a reduction to just 3.64% of its original length. No doubt helpful for residents and visitors alike.

red letter L   red letter A

Guinness also lists the world's longest abbreviation: S.K.O.M.K.H.P.K.J.C.D.P.W.B. These are the 14 initials of the Syarikat Kerjasama Orang-orang Melayu Kerajaan Hilir Perak Kerana Jimat Cermat Dan Pinjam-meminjam Wang Berhad – which is the Malay name for the The Cooperative Company of the Lower State of Perak Governments Malay People for Money Savings and Loans Ltd. of West Malaysia.

map of New Zealand with Taumata marked

Some place names are so long that they virtually beg for a shorter alternative. Take Taumatawhakatangi­hangakoauauotamatea­turipukakapikimaunga­horonukupokaiwhen­uakitanatahu. This is a hill located in New Zealand, and most of the locals shorten this mouthful to simply Taumata. This 85-letter word translates from the Māori language to "The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the slider, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his flute to his loved one." Fun fact: tennis player Martina Navratilova learned to pronounce this record-breaking word when she was 10 years old, which she actually put to use when she visited New Zealand many years later.

map of Wales, UK with Llanfair-PG marked

The longest one-word place name in Europe belongs to a large village on the Isle of Anglesey, Wales, UK. It's more popularly known in its abbreviated form as Llanfair PG. But visitors can see many signs (very long ones!) that hold the full name of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Translating from the Welsh language, this word means "St. Mary's Church in the Hollow of White Hazel near the Rapid Whirlpool of the Church of St. Tysilio of the Red Cave."

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