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Hangman (Game): 12 Myths and Misconceptions (Banned, Rules,…)

Last Updated on January 7, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Hangman drawing on chalkboard

Playing a game of Hangman is a fun way to keep you occupied when you’re waiting. It’s also a fantastic way of helping students remember vocabulary words – whether they’re young kids learning material for a spelling test or more advanced students taking English as a foreign language. 

With that being said, there are some myths, misconceptions, and other interesting facts surrounding Hangman. And just because you’ve heard people say the below-mentioned statements doesn’t make them accurate. We need to take a look at the facts. Are you interested in finding out? Read on. 

These are 12 myths and misconceptions about Hangman (game):

1. Hangman is a children’s game.  

Many people associate pen-and-paper-based games with children. That’s because they are easy games to play. Children, however, are not the only ones playing this game. 

Hangman is an ideal activity used by students learning English as a foreign language, many of the students being adults. Parents can also have fun by playing with their kids. Like most games, it can be a great way to improve communication and open up relationships. 

Hangman is suitable for all ages, not for children only.

2. The game is for two or more players. 

Sure, before apps and modern technology existed, two or more people could play Hangman. However, one player can play this game against a computer. Many apps offer the game as a one or two-player game, so the next time you’re all by yourself, try playing Hangman. You don’t need another willing participant. 

By doing this, you’re also training your brain as you expand your knowledge of a themed subject, and there’s a possibility that you’re learning new words. Hangman is a one-player game too.

3. Playing Hangman is so easy. 

Many people think that it’s a pretty easy game because you’re simply calling out alphabets. However, if you’re calling out letters randomly, it is improbable that you’ll guess the word. This game does require thinking and a bit of human intuition. 

As you make a few correct guesses, you’re likely to see patterns and avoid calling out certain letters. For instance, if you’ve already called out two correctly guessed vowels, you’re not expected to call out the rest of them. So this game does require some thought. 

Some Hangman apps have many difficulty levels; as you progress, the more challenging it will be to identify some words. While Hangman is a simple game to understand and play, it’s not always easy to win, depending on how difficult the word is to discover.

4. Some countries have banned Hangman. 

Some countries still use hanging as capital punishment, and playing Hangman in one of these countries would be inappropriate. However, no country has policies and regulations in place that explicitly ban playing Hangman.

Parents who have been offended by this game have gone as far as getting entire schools to ban the game. Schools had to develop more creative ways to present Hangman (changing the name Hangman). Players still enjoy Hangman as variations, and people who play this game tread with caution depending on the audience to which they present this game. 

Hangman game on chalkboard Green board

5. You can increase your chances of winning by applying specific strategies. 

While there are strategies you can use to increase your odds of winning, no method can guarantee you a win. These techniques can only help you limit your odds of making an incorrect guess. 

Starting a game off by guessing vowels, commonly used English letters, and making calculated guesses based on the existing correct letters within the word are all great strategies to use. However, should you make a few errors along the way and have only one turn left, there’s still a chance of losing (if you have a few seemingly correct options still available to you.) 

So, guessing by strategy is better than guessing at random as it minimizes your amount of wrong guesses but doesn’t guarantee you a win.

6. Players who play Hangman only guess one letter at a time. 

If you’re learning new vocabulary words in a classroom, likely, your educator has not given you an endless set of words to learn. 

Not receiving an extensive list makes it easy to call out the entire term at the beginning of a game of Hangman. Students may have already noticed all the words that they need to learn in a given subject. Learning them beforehand will make it easy for them to know the entire list and call answers out instead of suggesting a single letter at a time. 

If you’re playing a friendly game of Hangman, it is possible to predict the word your friend has picked out. Calling out words means Hangman players can call out the answer and not only single letters at a time. 

7. Children do not play Hangman because of the morbid theme. 

So yes, using a drawing of a person we hang for keeping score may seem absurd. Many believe thoughts of hanging and death are inappropriate for children, and we should substitute them with better ideas. 

Then again, for as long as children have been playing games, dark themes have existed. Take, for example, the game of Ring Around The Rosie. It’s a fun game that kids play, yet, it’s related to the black death. 

Dark themes have always existed, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped children from playing these games. Hangman is no exception, as the game continues today. 

8. Hangman has no rules. 

While it’s true there are no official rules; when playing Hangman with a friend, it’s best to set up your own rules, so no fights break out. There are no set rules as to how many incorrect guesses are allowed, and we may still be unsure whether the words chosen are even words others would consider valid at all.

There’s no official rule, like Scrabble, that says players must choose words defined by the dictionary. So any weirdly spelled colloquialism counts, right? It’s best to clarify a few quick rules before playing a friendly game of Hangman. So yes, there are rules in Hangman – the ones which you make.

9. Hangman is like Wheel of Fortune. 

Wheel of Fortune took inspiration from the game Hangman, but that’s not to say Hangman is like Wheel of Fortune. People win money in Wheel of Fortune, and contestants guess phrases, not singular words. 

More than that, the game Wheel of Fortune is more luck-based than skill-based. Hangman may have inspired the idea for Wheel of Fortune, but it is not like Wheel of Fortune. It is its own game entirely. 

10. Players must draw the gallows first before the start of the game.  

As we’ve seen, there are no official rules for Hangman. If you want to sketch the gallows to start, you go right ahead. The only difference starting with the gallows is that a player will have few chances to make incorrect guesses. 

If you want the game to be more challenging, you can always change how you draw the Hangman image. Fewer pencil strokes to complete a figure mean fewer chances players are allowed to mess up. Players do not necessarily need to start first by drawing the gallows. 

11. Hangman is a boring paper and pencil game.

Hangman game and a pen

When you do the same thing repeatedly without any challenge, it does tend to become boring. If you’ve come across an app that has made the game seem very dull, we trust you’ve since deleted it, as there are some notable variations out there.

There are versions of the game that incorporate themes to make Hangman more fun. There are also versions containing varying difficulty levels that make words a little more challenging to make them fun. 

12. Players must write down incorrect guesses. 

It’s common practice to write down wrong guesses to keep track of the letters already played. However, since there are no official rules for Hangman, some players may not write down their incorrect letters. 

Not writing them down makes the game more challenging. It’s also an excellent way to improve your memory retention. You have to pay attention to all the letters you call out, and if you don’t, there’s a higher chance of you losing.

Final Word

We’ve taken a look at a few myths that surround the game of Hangman. Having read this article, you’re now updated on the game and realize there are no official rules except those you make. You don’t have to dispute the game as long as you agree on the rules before playing the game. Have fun playing!

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.