A Word Game by A. Peter Seebach, David Leppik, and Jordan P. Wood


This game explores exactly how hard it is to think of things that aren't on the World Wide Web. Unlike word games that match related or opposite words, this one requires you to find words that are completely unrelated.

The game is named after a non-existent word (probably a malapropism for fallacious) which someone defended by saying it got 37 hits on Google. It turns out that Google has entries for most made-up words we can think of, including booblicious, garkle, and zorp.

What you need

Setting up

Connect to the internet. If possible, the display should be visible to all players, but this is not necessary. Connect to a search engine (we recommend Google) and run a test query. Set it up to display the number of results but not any of the results, as shown in the figure below. You may wish to increase the font size to make it easier for everyone to see. If playing with children, be sure to turn SafeSearch filtering on.

(Picture of Google with search results hidden)


Choose a person to go first. It doesn't matter who. Also choose a typist, or have each person type for him/herself. It's best to have the best speller type.

  1. The player who starts this round chooses one or two words and submits them as a search. These may be proper nouns, made-up words, misspelled words, random strings of characters, or anything. This player may not type in anything known to produce fewer than ten results.
  2. Play proceeds to the left, with each player adding another word to the query. As above, anything goes. Any word which does not reduce the number of results is not reused.
  3. The winner of the round is the last player to successfully add a word which narrows the search. A search with only one result is an instant win. If you reach ten words (Google's maximum), the person successfully adding the tenth word wins.
  4. The winner of the round gets one point.
  5. Optional rule: If the winner of the round successfully guesses the topic of the first result (e.g. "online dictionary" or "children's story"), that player gets one extra point. This is harder than it sounds! Be sure to look at the first real result, rather than one listed as a "sponsored link."
  6. The next round begins to the left of the person who started the last round. This way everyone gets to start a round.

The game lasts until one player gets 10 points, or until everyone is sick of playing. For 8 or more players, quit at 5 points. Or you can play for a set amount of time.


Jordan (who always wins) just uses her intuition. Some of us prefer to use strategy.

At the beginning of the round, try to add words which are obscure and unrelated. Near the end of the round choose common words. You may want to play off of different meanings of one of the search terms. For example, if one of the words is "excel", you might add the word "office" to play off the name of the Microsoft software. Think about the types of documents your search is probably producing. Often they are word lists or rambling manifestoes. Throw in a common word (e.g. sale) or misspelling (e.g. teh for the) to knock out the word lists.

The web is not like the rest of the world, and has language of its own. Some things are especially common, such as buy or sale, especially web-related terms like HTML, its shorter form HTM; home and page, etc.

Last updated 3 September 2001