Version Date: April 27, 2013
Build A Word is a
word game where players make new words by adding letters to a starting
The starting word is called the base word.
For example, if the base word is BID, the letter E can be added
to make BIDE. Then the next player might add the letter A in front to
make ABIDE. Or the first player might add both letters to make ABIDE.
The more letters added, the higher the score. (See Scoring, below.)
How to Play
game starts by selecting a base word. The easiest way to do this is to
use the Build
a Word database in the Excel spreadsheet, available free.
The database contains more than 200 three-letter base words, presented
randomly. Instructions are in the Excel file.
Player One then adds a letter or letters to make a new word.
Player Two then adds a letter or letters to Player One's word to make
a different new word.
Player One then makes a new word from the word made by player two.
Play continues on this base word formation until neither player can
make another new word. Then a new base word is put
into play. Base word choice alternates between players.
The first player to get 100 points wins the game.
Players should take care to make the most extensive form of a new word
possible. For example, with the base word RID, a player should think
about RIDE, but also BRIDE or better BRIDGE, and then ABRIDGEMENT.
Words can be extended by making them plural (adding S or ES), actors
(R, ER, OR), or past
tense (D or ED). Thus, a player can take PIP and make not just PIPE
but PIPER, or better still PIPERS.
Prefixes and Suffixes.
When groups of mixed age play, prefixes and suffixes (other than those
mentioned above) can be prohibited by agreement. Otherwise, they are
available for play. Examples: PIP>>REPIPER,
Look for those huge Greek and Latin prefixes and suffixes, which can
extend your words substantially. Note how the addition of TRANS extends
ACTION made from the base word ACT to form TRANSACTION, and then the
suffix AL forms TRANSACTIONAL. To learn more about prefixes and
suffixes, see Word Roots and Prefixes, right
here on VirtualSalt.
Build a Word is a great way to teach the use and meaning of common
prefixes and suffixes. If younger contestants are mixed with older
ones, giving the younger ones a crib sheet listing these common word
components will help them develop a better vocabulary.
- Adding one letter to
the front or back: one point. Examples:
BAN >> BANE, PIN>>PINE or OPEN
- Adding one letter to both front and back: four points. Examples:
PIN>>OPINE, LEA>>FLEAS, RIP>>TRIPE
Adding more than one letter to either front or back: one point per
added letter. Examples: POT>>POTATO (3 points), ACT>>IMPACT
- Adding more than one letter to both front and back, two points
added letter: ANT>>TARANTULA (12 points).
- After the first player has worked on the base, the next player
attempt to add letters to front, back, or both of the NEW word. If
another word is made, the second player gets all the points from the
previous word plus points for the new letter or letters added. For
example: CAR, player one >> SCARE (six points), player two
>> SCARECROW (10 points--the six for the first word and four for
adding four one-point letters to one end)
For those who make lots of words or who don't like the burden of
calculating scores, Hasty Scoring simply counts one point per letter in
each new word formed.
A player can take a base word and double down by
forming two different words from the base. Example: BAR>>BARES
double down BAR>>BARNS. Points are added normally and then a two
point bonus is given for the doubling. The score for this example
would be 2 plus 2 plus the bonus 2 = 6 points.
Each player can work on the base word independently, in turn. For
example, Player One might take the base word HIP and make SHIP. Then
Player Two might take HIP and make CHIP. Player One then can either
make SHIPPING from SHIP or CHIPPED from CHIP. Play continues on this
base word until neither player can score.
Multiplex is the free-for-all version, where each player can make as
many different words from the same base word as possible, usually
within a specified time frame, such as two minutes. Hasty Scoring (see
above) might be preferable when playing Multiplex.
For example, base word ARE might yield RARE, BARELY, CAREFULLY,
PARES, COMPARED, and so on. Note that in Multiplex mode, every
different form of the new word counts as a word. For example, base word
LIT could yield SLIT, SLITS, LITTER, LITTERS, LITTERER, LITTERED.
More fun games:
DoDotHot Word Game | Extractor Word Game
Creative Ways to Learn Vocabulary | Claim a Word Game
Build a Word Word Game | WordCarom Word Game
Double Up Word Game
Axe-a-Word Word Game
2012 by Robert Harris | How
to cite this page
w w . v i r t u a l s a l t . c o m
About the author:
Harris is a writer
and educator with more than 25 years of teaching experience at the
and university level. RHarris at virtualsalt.com