What it is: Originally a board game, but it’s become a common classic, and you don’t need to buy the game to play your own version. It’s a drawing word-guessing game for groups of any age.

Best for: Group of at least 4 players.

What you need: You’ll need something to draw on, like a big pad of paper and marker, a chalk board and chalk, or a wipe-off board and dry erase marker. Or even just a stack of blank paper. You’ll also need slips of paper with words written on them and a hat or bowl to put them in. (Or, you can use my online word generator!) Optional: a stopwatch/hourglass/clock, and a piece of paper to keep score.

How to play: The game is pretty simple: players take turns silently drawing different things while their team tries to guess what the drawing is. Teams compete against each other to have the most guessed words and win the game.

The way you set up the game can vary; pictionary allows for a lot of flexibility. For this post, let’s pretend you’re going to play with a big group divided into two teams.

Before the game starts, you’ll want to come up with some things to draw and write them on slips of paper (see the end of this post for some pre-made lists). The objects can be as hard or as easy as you want. If you’re playing with little kids, easily illustrated nouns like sun or bear would probably be good; if you’re playing with teens or adults, throw in some abstract nouns like honor, some adjectives or verbs like upset or dance, or maybe some idioms like have a cow.

Once you have your slips of paper ready, fold them up and put them in a bowl or hat. Then divide your players into two teams.

If you have one drawing surface, have teams take turns sending up a player to pick a word from the hat and draw it in a pre-designated amount of time. If the team guesses the word before the time runs out, they get a point. (Or, if you want to designate hard and easy words at the beginning, you could assign different point values to different words.) Then the other team takes a turn.

If you have two drawing surfaces, you could have each team send up a player and have them draw the same word at the same time (hiding their drawings from the other team). First team to guess the word wins the round.

At the end, tally up points and announce a winner!

Variations: Instead of having a player draw one word before the time runs out, you could let team members draw as many words as their team could guess before the time runs out, if you like that sort of fast-paced action.

You also don’t have to keep score or keep time if you want. You don’t even need two teams. You could just play with a big group of people and take turns drawing, with slips of paper or with players thinking of their own words to draw. Players take as long as they need to draw. The first player who guesses correctly gets to draw next.

Printables: Want some ready-to-go pictionary word lists? Click any of the links below, print out the lists, cut into strips, mix and match, and enjoy! Or, if you want word lists you don’t have to print out, check out my word generator.

And if you really like playing pictionary beyond the occasional class or family party, I’d highly recommend buying the real game. It has a lot more words, a board, and a better way to keep score; it’s an awesome way to play.

Variations: Looking for new ways to spice up your pictionary games? Try mixtionary, musical pictionary, paper telephone, or pictionades. Happy playing!


  1. Thank you so so so much for posting this!! It’s going to be perfect for tonight…and it was so helpful for me. I really really appreciate it!! Thanks,

  2. Thank you so much! So many “pictionary” sites seem like pure spam filled sites, yours actually has good party games. I will use this for my husband’s party next weekend- so much fun- thanks so much!!!

  3. i luv u game gal for posting this game
    really it has helped me entertain my friends
    i m lavishly excited to meet u and give u a tight hug..!!!!
    πŸ™‚ <3<3<3<3<3 lots of love
    shreeja pandey

  4. LOTS OF THANKS πŸ™‚ Doing a last minute party and your site really is very helpfull. Thanks for taking the time to put it together, and not asking for anything in return. Its a blessing, may God Bless You

  5. Thank you so, so much for the list of words.
    This will be such a great help with our church get to gether on Saturday, thank you, very kind of you

  6. Thanks! Am using in a community college child development class. It will be a great way to combine the chapters on intelligence, creativity, & socialization (as well as fun too!).

  7. Im cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time and I have a LARGE extended family and needed an inexpensive way to entertain … Thank you so much for this site !

  8. Thanksgiving will never be the same at my house! Thanks to you for helping out in this economy! Awesome job, five gold stars for you Game Gal!

  9. Thank you so much for posting this word list for Pictionary. I waited until the last minute to plan a party for tonight and this was a LIFESAVER!!!!

  10. Hi, thanks for the lists – We used them in a little school in a place called Wycheproof in Victoria, Australia – town population 700, school population Year 1-13 is 130. Our students found some of the movies to be almost impossible – but that just added to the fun! We had a great – but very raucous, session.

  11. This was the first site we found that had legit words to use. It was really helpful! The idioms were my favourite, and I know they will be tons of fun for our youth tonight! Thank you.

  12. Thank you so much for this. My children and I are enjoying our “Family Home Evening” thanks to you and your awesome site!

  13. Thank you so much for compiling these lists! With the recent popularity of Draw Something, my students love to play our own version whenever we have down time. Your lists add impartiality when it comes to which words I give the teams. I, and my students, thank you!

  14. We put a 4×8 outdoor chalkboard on our fence. The little ones love it. These words will allow us to play Pictionary. Love it.

  15. Thanks for the great pictionary word/phrase ideas! We loved ’em in my AP Stats class after the AP test was over. πŸ™‚

  16. I printed out the easy, medium, and hard words, cut them out, and tossed them into an empty square tissue box to play with my language exchange partner. She learned so many new things! You made not owning actual Pictionary not so bad. πŸ™‚ Thanks!

  17. What a hit! I bought an economy white-board and stand from Staples. Then with your word lists we had a great night of PICTIONARY FUN!

    Thank you soo much Game Gal! YOU ROCK!

  18. Wow thank you so much Gal for the variety of words. ive been playing this since 1999 and i have never got bored.

    God bless you. Can you add some nice adult activity park games, should be a decent ones.

    Thanks again,

  19. Rita, thanks! If you use my “Search for the perfect game” feature at the top of the page and check “Grown-ups” for the age, it will bring up all the posts I have that adults could play. They’re all suitable for teens or children as well, though; I don’t have any games that are exclusively adult. Hope this helps!

  20. super site, thank you, i work as a volunteer with a stroke group and we are always looking for new things, have had to merge pictionary and cherades as each person has different difficulties and we have to meet all. great though, thanks again, sim.

  21. This game sounds so fun and we plan on playing it at our corporate christmas party (we do games every year) We have a group of 20, How would you suggest we play the game with 5 teams of 4 (or 4 teams of 5) in a way that keeps everyone involved at the same time?

    1. Carrie,
      That sounds like a great party! If you’re playing at Christmas, check out my Christmas pictionary word list. And then as far as how to play with your group, you could always have 4 or 5 small white boards or paper pads on easels, one for each team, and just have each team send up one person to draw at a time. Give all the artists the same word to draw. Then have the 4 or 5 people drawing, with their team members guessing, and whichever team guesses the word first gets the point. Then a new set of artists comes up. I’ve never played with that many teams at one time, but if you have that many easels, it could definitely work! If you’re not set on having 4 or 5 teams, I would say a great way to play with 20 people would be to just have 2 teams of 10. Then play the same way, but you don’t need as many drawing surfaces. Either way, good luck and let me know if I can help any more!
      -The Game Gal

  22. Carrie,
    Ooh, that one’s trickier. πŸ˜‰ Well, when you assign points to a team for drawing and guessing a word correctly, you could also sign an individual point to the artist. Keep track of both team and individual points throughout the whole game, and then at the end you could have an individual winner: either the person on the winning team with the most points, or just the person from any team with the most points overall. If there’s a tie, you could have one more quick round of pictionary as a tiebreaker. Would that work?

  23. WOW – THIS SITE ROCKS!! I’m excited to play this evening with my family – My kids will get the list of “Easy words” (ages 9, 8 & 6) and my husband will get the “Medium Words”. Kids against parents tonight ;o) CAN’T WAIT!!

  24. Thank you! I love that you have the word lists organized so that it is easy to print, cut up to put in the bowl, and then just play! Here’s a twist too: try playing “Pictionades”: pick a word out of the bowl, then flip a coin. Heads = silently draw the word to be guessed; Tails = silently act out the word to be guessed.
    Much Love!!!

  25. Do you have a fall list by chance. I will be leading a classroom of 6th graders and I was going to do Boys vs. Girls on the white board. The school does not allow Halloween themes but fall themes would work great.

  26. thank you game gal!!! I am having a birthday family game night this weekend and now I am more excited about this game! wish us luck, we are very competitive! πŸ™‚

  27. I LOVE THIS! My family enjoys a game night occasionally with neighbors and this is going to be SO MUCH FUN! Thank you for taking the time to put this together. <3

  28. Thank you so much for the printable Pictionary words! My husband and I are hosting Christmas Eve this year for my side of the family and we always do games. This will be the first time trying Pictionary out so we’ll see how it goes! Thanks again!

  29. Hey there! Just wanted to drop by and say how much I enjoyed your article on Pictionary over at The Game Gal. It brought back so many fond memories of playing this classic game with friends and family.

    Your breakdown of the rules and strategies was super helpful, especially for someone like me who tends to get a bit competitive during game nights (oops!). I never realized there were so many variations to spice things up! Your tips on teamwork and communication really hit home – sometimes it’s not just about drawing well, but also about how you convey your ideas to your teammates. Thanks for shedding light on that! Can’t wait to try out some of these new twists next time we bust out the Pictionary board. Keep up the awesome work!
    Pictionary Word Generator

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