Hard Hangman Words and Phrases for Unbeatable Fun

, Staff Writer
Updated May 12, 2021
drawing of hangman game
    drawing of hangman game
    Photo taken by Beth Wiggins for YourDictionary
    Owned by YourDictionary, Copyright YourDictionary

Nothing passes the time like a game of Hangman! But it’s not much fun when the other person guesses the puzzle right away. Discover more than 160 hangman words and phrases for all ages, along with tips for choosing hangman terms that are both challenging and fun to guess. Use the included Hangman game template for hours of playing enjoyment!

Short Hangman Words That Are Hard

The key to making your Hangman word challenging is to give your opponent fewer chances to guess. That means choosing short words with repeating unusual consonants and minimal vowels (since players can technically guess all vowels in five to six turns). According to Reader’s Digest, the hardest word to guess in Hangman is jazz.

Other short Hangman words include:

  • abyss
  • bubbly
  • buzz
  • buff
  • cozy
  • fluff
  • fluffy
  • fizz
  • fizzy
  • fox
  • jinx
  • lucky
  • puff
  • puffy
  • puzzle
  • quiz
  • shabby
  • zippy

Hangman Hints for Wordsmiths

If you’re playing against a real logophile, you’ll need to bring out the big guns. That doesn’t mean you should play long words like antidisestablishmentarianism anytime soon! Remember: short words with lots of consonants are your path to victory.

  • chutzpah
  • crystal
  • fuchsia
  • gherkin
  • diphthong
  • kitschy
  • larynx
  • naphtha
  • psyche
  • quartz
  • rhythmic
  • synthetic
  • tmesis
  • zwieback

Need more ideas? Check out a list of words made primarily from consonants. They’re perfect for your next game of Hangman or even Scrabble!

Fun and Challenging Hangman Phrases

You don’t want to make your puzzle too easy by making it an everyday saying. There are lots of different phrases and idioms to choose from that don’t repeat words. Try out these phrases in your next Hangman game.

  • blue in the face
  • ignorance is bliss
  • knee jerk reaction
  • a weight off my shoulders
  • my Achilles heel
  • cog in the machine
  • hold your horses
  • burning the midnight oil
  • the world’s my oyster
  • don’t muddy the waters
  • upset the apple cart
  • a bird in the hand
  • a bite at the cherry
  • a cast-iron stomach
  • batten down the hatches
  • don't beat a dead horse
  • point of no return
  • shiver me timbers
  • tell it to the judge

If you’d like to find more idioms, take a look at additional examples from around the world. Or check out idioms that originally came from famous works of literature.


Appetizing Hangman Phrases About Food

Words and phrases related to food and beverages can make great hangman phrases. Food idioms are great options to consider, as are the names of interesting dishes or drinks. You could even fit in some descriptive words for food.

  • al dente pasta
  • beef and cheddar sandwich
  • buffalo chicken dip
  • butternut squash soup
  • chicken and rice burrito
  • cool as a cucumber
  • deep fried butter
  • fried crawfish tales
  • frozen strawberry daiquiri
  • ham and pineapple pizza
  • hand-churned ice cream
  • herbal blend tea
  • hot and sour soup
  • piece of cake
  • pumpkin spice bread
  • raw cookie dough
  • raw oysters with crackers
  • roasted tomatillo salsa
  • shrimp and grits
  • slower than molasses
  • soft-shell crabs
  • strawberry flavored milk

Difficult Summertime Phrases for Hangman

There are lots of fun summertime activities that make great phrases for hangman games. You could also use these summer words to vividly describe the season to come up with your own phrases for the game.

  • beach volleyball tournament
  • camping in a recreational vehicle
  • deep sea fishing
  • dog days of summer
  • family camping adventure
  • floating on an air mattress
  • frequently apply sunscreen
  • fun in the sun
  • grilled burgers and hot dogs
  • going to the water park
  • hiking in the mountains
  • lazy days at the lake
  • lazy days of summer
  • movies under the stars
  • open fire cooking
  • prepare for hurricane season
  • run through the sprinklers
  • swimming pool safety
  • tend your backyard garden
  • take me out to the ballgame

Hard Movie Title Hangman Phrases

Movie titles are a great choice when you're looking for hangman phrases. If you want to challenge the other players, though, be sure to select older or more obscure titles rather than recent big-screen blockbusters.

  • A Beautiful Mind
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Bringing Down the House
  • Can't Buy Me Love
  • Chariots of Fire
  • Dora and the Lost City of Gold
  • Escape From Witch Mountain
  • First Wives Club
  • Here Comes the Boom
  • Night of the Living Dead
  • Some Like it Hot
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain
  • The Blair Witch Project
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai
  • The Cabin in the Woods
  • The Dark Night Rises
  • The Invisible Man
  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • The House With a Clock in its Walls

Tricky Hangman Quotes

There are some quotes that practically everyone can recite from memory. But for those puzzles that need an extra challenge, you might want to pick more obscure quotes to guess. You can even add the speaker’s name as part of the game! Try out these quotes that are just tricky enough to work.

  • “No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle.” - Winston Churchill
  • “Skinned knees are easier to fix than a broken heart.” - Julia Roberts
  • “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” - Ronald Reagan
  • “Journalism is the first rough draft of history.” - Phillip L. Graham
  • “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.” - Albert Einstein
  • “Puns are the highest form of literature.” - Alfred Hitchcock
  • “When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it.” - Yogi Berra
  • “Courage is the magic that turns dreams into reality.” - Richter Abend
  • “Your sense of responsibility to others can never be excessive.” - Dean Koontz

Hard Hangman Phrases for Kids

Playing hangman can be a fun vocabulary-building activity for kids. The key is to select terms that they're likely to be familiar with, but that will still challenge young minds. The options below won't seem hard to most teens or adults but could challenge young readers or those just learning English.

  • after school activity
  • aunt and uncle
  • bedtime story
  • board game
  • booster seat
  • bouncy house
  • brother and sister
  • cartoon character
  • chore wheel
  • fire truck
  • hamburger bun
  • kids menu
  • mac and cheese
  • nap time
  • peanut butter and jelly
  • screen time
  • slumber party
  • skating rink
  • soccer ball
  • theme park
  • train ride
  • school mascot

Challenging Hangman Words for Senior Citizens

Word games like hangman make great cognitive activities for seniors. Use words that seniors are likely to be familiar with when putting together hangman games that they'll enjoy.

  • biscuit
  • butcher
  • camera
  • casserole
  • celebrate
  • drugstore
  • grandchild
  • lamp
  • library
  • magazine
  • market
  • mixer
  • postage
  • potluck
  • power
  • stove
  • supper
  • taxicab
  • telephone
  • television

Printable Hangman Template

Now that you have plenty of fun ideas to use in Hangman games, you just need an easy template to use for playing. Download the template below and print as many copies as you'd like. Play by any rules you know, or follow the instructions below.

Instructions for Playing Hangman

If you need instructions, follow the basic instructions below.

  1. The person who is choosing the Hangman word or phrase (Player 1) should specify the number of letters and words in the answer by drawing lines in the box at the bottom of the page (such as __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ for “small child”).

  2. The player who is guessing (Player 2) should choose one letter at a time. Player 1 will tell Player 2 if the letter is in the word or not.
    1. For each incorrect guess, Player 1 will draw in one body part (head, body, leg 1, leg 2, arm 1, arm 2, eye 1, eye 2, nose, mouth). When the drawing is complete, that means that Player 1 is the winner!
    2. For each correct guess, Player 1 will write the letter in the correct blanks in the box at the bottom of the page everywhere it appears in the word or phrase.

  3. Player 2 can attempt to guess the correct word or phrase at any time in the game. If Player 2 guesses correctly before the drawing is complete, then Player 2 wins!

Alternatives to Traditional Hangman

If you're looking for an alternative to drawing in a stick figure of a person, consider one of these options. Make sure to agree with your opponent on the number of pieces that will be drawn in, as that will be important to identify a game-winner.

  • flower - draw a simple flower, such as a tulip, with the stem, two leaves and three petals.
  • smiley face - consider a smiley face image, with a circle for the head, two eyes, a nose, and a mouth. To allow for more guesses, add on ears or hair.
  • car - another option would be to draw a side view of a car, with the body, two doors, two tires, an open hood, and an open trunk.

Get creative! Any relatively simple stick-figure sketch could work.

Choosing Challenging Hangman Words That Are Hard (But Fun)

The trick to creating Hangman clues and phrases is the same, no matter the players’ age level: use fewer vowels and avoid repeated words. Players can guess every vowel in the first five (or six, if you count Y) turns, making the rest of the puzzle easy to solve. And if your phrase repeats a word, that’s less work for your opponent to do. Remember, you only need to beat them in as many moves as it takes to draw the hangman!

If you don't want to use the words and phrases from these lists, you can make up your own Hangman phrases. Consider the best words to use when creating a Hangman puzzle. It might seem like longer words are your best bet, but if you want to win, you’re better off with shorter words.

Building Vocabulary With Word Games

Playing word games like Hangman is an excellent way to increase your vocabulary. Not only do you get to learn new words, but you can also practice your spelling skills by guessing the correct letters. If you’d like more practice building vocabulary, check out these vocabulary games that are perfect for elementary and secondary readers.