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How to Win at Hangman (and Similar Games): 30+ Tips / Tricks / Strategies

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Hangman is a game that has been around for centuries, so it is no surprise that there are many tips, tricks, and strategies that have been discovered and created for players to get the edge over their opponents.

This article will discuss these tips, tricks, and strategies in great detail for you to become a better and more knowledgeable Hangman player!

Looking at the below-mentioned list, you will see there are many ways to hone your skills to become a Master at Hangman. Some are simple, others require a bit of headspace, but once you have practiced a few times, it will be second nature to you.

Never again will you have to face yourself knowing you lost the game because random guessing did not work for you. Help is here!


1. Keep the number of guesses limited.

When entering into a game, agree with your opponent that you will only have six guesses (the head, body, each leg, and each arm). This ensures that the game moves quickly and makes sure that players aren’t just calling out random letters. As far as enjoyment goes, it takes things to the next level!

2. Use a simple design.

The usual total of letters to be used is often 11, but this does not have to be rigid. The Hangman design is a simple gallows shape with a basic human. Few people play a Hangman with multiple body parts – it makes the game too drawn out. 

Your aim is to have difficult words requiring smaller letter guesses; thus, fewer turns as possible before the man is hanged.

Ideally, you want to start with an 8 letter word, but there are always outcries from opponents. So begin by setting a 6 letter word. There will be calls for 10 to 13 letter words – point out that this is half the alphabet. If you must, compromise on 8, which is exactly where you wanted to be.

3. Avoid talking about words length.

Your choice must generally be smaller words, so don’t invite any discussion on the topic. Let it be a silent decision in your head, do not bring it up so there can be no fall-out.

4. Play your opponent by not showing emotions.

You know that you are likely going to be playing many games, so look for a long-term strategy. Do not congratulate your opponent when a letter is guessed correctly; rather, make it seem that it was an obvious choice to make, and you were merely being gentle with your word choice. 

Go into the game wearing the confidence of a winner.

5. Do not attempt to guess the word in order of its letters.

When you have guessed a letter or two within the word, it is very tempting to start trying to get the following letter. Do not fall into this trap! It will minimize your chances of selecting the correct letter and eat away at the valuable turns available to you. 

A better strategy would be to looking at the following most common letters, such as ‘S’, ‘T’, and ‘N’. The frequency of these letters in the English language means that the chances of it popping up in the word you are trying to guess are a lot higher than trying to guess the word as a whole.

6. Strategize when you choose your words.

Buzz and Jazz are probably the hardest to guess, so don’t play them at the beginning. If you do, your opponent will soon realize what sort of game you are playing and begin playing obscure letters like K, X, and V. You need to keep them playing with the mundane letters like E, T, and A. 

7. Start off using easy words and make them progressively more difficult.

Ready to make your opponent angry? It may be one of the more sneaky strategies on this list, but it is very effective. Start the game using easy words and progressively increase the difficulty of the words you are picking. 

It should result in your opponent becoming careless and overconfident and may result in you winning easily.

8. Use unusual words.

When your turn to choose a word comes around, try thinking long and hard about a word you wouldn’t see every day. This makes it trickier for the other player to guess the word and probably win you the round. 

Yes, it’s seemingly a simplistic strategy, but often players will select the first word that comes to mind, which results in them losing the round.

9. Avoid choosing words where the same letter appears multiple times.

The next point is a pretty obvious trick that is often overlooked. If it is your turn to select a word, you should select a word that has no letters that are repeated. Meaning that your opponent would have to guess every letter in the word. 

Essentially they would have to use a new turn for each letter.

10. Remember that the letter ‘E’ is the most common in the English language.

Choosing the letter ‘E’ is always a good place to start your turn. Through research, it has been deciphered that this letter is the most common in the language. There is always a high possibility of ‘E’ being present in a word, meaning that it is always a good first guess.

11. Be aggressive with 4-letter words.

For your first word, find something fairly difficult like “embryonic”. You could be even more crafty and start with words like “cryptology”, or “rhythmic” and have them guessing the letter Y far too soon in the next game but remember the optimal 8-letter word you want to use in the beginning.

Be brutal; hit them with a 4-letter word. Letter frequency has it that J is the least common and Z the fourth-least. Words such as “Buzz” and “Jazz” become brain-strainers. 

12. Use words that have fewer common letters.

When thinking of a word to pick, think about the letters that are in the word. Picking words that have the letters’ Q’ and ‘Z’ in them will make it a lot more difficult for your opponent to win the round as it is less likely that they will pick these letters in a guess.  

13. Temporarily abort the Z words soon in the game.

Having muddled your opponent with the letter Z as in the previous paragraph, just as they think they are getting to know your style, play with their brains and use words like “ jinx’, ‘foxy”, “duff”, and “jiffy”.

14. Start to switch to longer words.

If you follow the 4-letter word plan, there will be many other 4-letter words being used across the table as tempers flare. This is when you go for the 5-letter words. Think “fazes”, “waxes”, “staff’, “babes”, and “joker”.

Go even further and use words like “blabbing, “fluffiest”, ‘wooziness”, and “hobnobbing”, all simple words but not ones used often. When last did you hear “mummified” or “alkalizing”? Confront your opponents with these!

15. Start guessing with vowels.

As you know, once the vowels are in place, the word becomes easier to see in one’s mind. So guess vowels first, remembering that there is a frequency of letters used. Normally the frequency rate of vowels is E, A, I, O, with U last, far behind the other 4.  

Most people seem to like starting with a T – just because it’s a popular letter doesn’t always make it right.

16. However, do not rely too heavily on guessing vowels.

There is an average of two vowels in a short English word and three in a long word. Once you have gotten one vowel, it is recommended to move on to other types of letters. 

If you guess a letter after you have successfully guessed one vowel, the word should be obvious, and reaching the answer will be quicker.

17. Switch to phrases.

Here you must use tough words, combining them in unusual ways. There will be fight-back from your opponents but “remind” them these are the names of music bands in the ’80s and ’90s. Use the obscure letters – and come up with phrases like “Foxes like Jazz”.

18. If you decide to use longer words, increase the number of guesses.

If both players agree on using longer words, make sure that you increase the guesses; otherwise, the odds will always land up favoring the person choosing the word. This can easily be done by adding body parts onto the Hangman.

19. Know the frequency usage of certain vowels and consonants.

For crossword fanatics, who use the whole gamut of the dictionary, the frequency table is ETAOIN SHRDCU CMFWYP VBGKQJXZ. However, Hangman makes use, usually, of the common words, so the table then appears as ESIARN TOLCDU PMGHBY FVKWZX QJ.  

20. Choose letters based on the word length.

When you are faced with a 4-letter word, your first consonant choice should be S, then B, then F. For 5-letter words, your best first guess must be S; this is the only time a consonant should be used to guess the first letter. 

For words of between 6 and 12 letters, your vowel choice must be E, the most common letter, followed by I, which rules in words of 13 or more. U is the least common of the vowels. O is more prevalent in short and long words.

21. Try using more obscure letters as your second-letter guess.

We know that T, S, R, L, and N are the most common consonants. These, then, are the ones to use once you have your vowels in place. Follow a correctly guessed consonant with a less used one; try D, G, B, even F, V, K, and W.

22. Long words don’t always mean difficult words.

When considering the word’s length, remember that a longer word isn’t necessarily a more complicated word for your opponent to guess. When considering the next word you will use, keep this in mind.

23. Use the information your opponent gives you.

In games of more than 2 people, listen to your opponent – they will not give away their obscure letters by guessing. If they incorrectly guess a Z or a J, you can be pretty sure the word you’re looking for isn’t “jazz”.

24. Use words that you believe your opponent will not be familiar with.

Suppose there are any words in your vocabulary that you think your opponent may never have heard, or may be somewhat unfamiliar. This is an excellent opportunity to catch them out and get another point onto the board. 

It may require you to know the person you are playing against pretty well, as it isn’t easy to understand another person’s vocabulary level.

25. The difficulty of 3-letter words.

The most difficult words to guess are the 3-letter words. It can take up to 10 guesses before the first letter is on the grid. A should be your first guess only if the word length is 4 or less.

26. Hone your skills such as word-pattern making and word knowledge.

It stands to reason that the more capable you are in the language, the better your chances. Practice word games, such as word patterns and vocabulary; it will most certainly give you the edge.

27. Avoid using words that are similar to ones you have used in prior turns.

Once you have used a word relating to a specific topic, try and avoid using another word that is similar in any way. The best approach is to get comfortable with thinking out of the box.

In this game, the more obscure a word is, the less likely it is that your opponent guesses your chosen word.

28. Use obscure words – but know the meanings.  

This, obviously, is for use when you need to completely obliterate your opponent. They are all to be found in the dictionary, but you need to speak with assurance as you explain them. CHTHONIAN means ‘relating to the underworld, infernal’. Speak knowledgeably; the ‘CHTH’ is pronounced like an S. 

SQUUSH is a rare word, meaning to squash or crush something or to emit a sucking sound. The double UU will definitely confound your opponent, more so than VACUUM or CONTINUUM, as there are so few other letters.

Try ZUGZWANG, a move used in Chess. More common is DIPHTHONG, a vowel sound combination in words such as “toy’. YTTERBIUM, a metallic element of rare earth, named after Ytterby in Sweden, is bound to cause your opponent frustration.

29. Change over to phrases once you think you have mastered Hangman.

Once you feel that you have mastered the game, it is a great way to increase the difficulty by increasing the number of words you utilize in a turn.

This will make the game a lot more complicated as coming up with a phrase may take a few more seconds to think of than a simple word, and also, trying to figure out the correct letters in the phrase is slightly more complex than just a single word.

30. Make up other fun rules if you get bored of the standard format.

When you start getting a bit tired of playing the standard rules of Hangman, a good idea is to start adding in additional fun rules. It will make the game more interesting and keep it from getting repetitive.

One common way to do this is to choose a category of words that you may choose within. Utilizing this method may speed up the game; however, a little bit of a change-up may keep you playing the game for a more extended period.

31. Play in larger groups of people and have a tournament.

To take things up a notch in Hangman, gather a few of your friends and challenge them to a tournament. Playing against multiple people will be a lot more difficult than playing the same person multiple times, as each person is likely to guess very different words.

All in all

Although Hangman might have begun as a game in Victorian times, it rapidly grew to a game played in all languages. It is played by most ages, requiring only a surface to draw on and a writing implement.

Anyhow, if you are looking to master the art of Hangman, then this article is a great place to start! Next time you sit down to have a game, remember a few of these tips, tricks, and strategies, and you will be guaranteed an edge over the person sitting across from you.

It’s evident that your number one priority when playing Hangman is to have fun! Although winning is always more enjoyable than losing. 

There’s only one last thing to say: Go and kick some Hangman butt!

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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.