Bananagrams Rules: How to Play (And Why You’ll Want to) (2023)

Here we’ll review the Bananagrams rules and answer some commonly asked questions about this fun, addictive and fast word-building game. We’ll also provide some info on other ways to play, with helpful tips on how to improve your skills.

What is Bananagrams®?

Bananagrams is a word building game where players draw letters from 144 tiles and try to form words as fast as possible. The first player to use up all their tiles and shout “Bananas!” wins. Bananagrams can be played with 2 – 8 players and each game takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

Who Invented Bananagrams?

Bananagrams was invented by the late Abe Nathanson. At the age of 79, Nathanson, a Rhode Island based graphic designer, was playing a game of Scrabble with his grandsons. According to the story, he realized it would be more fun to play an “anagrams game so fast it will drive you bananas”.

Bananagrams Rules

Get your yellow banana pouch and let’s go through how to play a quick game of Bananagrams.

There are 144 tiles in a Bananagrams pouch. Dump all 144 tiles out on a flat surface and make sure all tiles are face down. Depending on the number of players, you’ll need to decide how many tiles each player gets. Here are the guidelines:

  • 2 to 4 players: 21 tiles to each player
  • 5 to 6 players: 15 tiles each player
  • 7 to 8 players: 11 tiles each player

Collect your tiles and wait for someone to yell “Split” to start the game. At this point everyone turns their tiles over and begins to form words into crossword-like grids.

What this means is that it’s just like laying out and connecting words in Scrabble: horizontal (left to right) or vertical (top to bottom). Unlike Scrabble, there is no board with designated points. Instead, your goal is to lay out words and build your free-form grid as fast as possible.

You can rearrange words and reconstruct your grid anytime. The key here is to try to put something together before your opponents.

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When a player has one face-up tile remaining, he or she yells out “Peel!” and the other players each take an additional tile out of the letters pile (aka the “Bunch”).


You can call out “Dump” to return one of your tiles to the pile. The trade-off is that you must now pick up three more tiles to continue play.

How to Win Bananagrams

The winner is the first player to form words with all their tiles in a connected grid and call out the word “Bananas!”

Note: A player can only call out “Bananas” once the tile bunch is reduced to fewer tiles than the number of players.

(Video) Debatable - How to Play

After a player has claimed a victory, it’s time to inspect their grid and look for any of the following unacceptable words (more on this below):

  • Misspelled words
  • Proper nouns
  • Abbreviations
  • Words not found in a common dictionary
  • Words not in accordance with any other rules set out before the game (i.e. did you all agree to allow two-letter words?)

If a mistake is spotted, call out “Rotten Bananas!” and the offending player is then out of the game. Return his or her tiles to the bunch pile, facedown, and resume playing.

What is an Unacceptable Word in Bananagrams?

Sometimes this is plain obvious. But just so there’s no confusion, it helps to lay out some specific rules.

One way is to decide on a standard dictionary (i.e. Mirriam-Webster) as your governing word reference before the game. Or, if you have a Scrabble dictionary lying around, you can use this as an expanded game-friendly word reference.

Even better, just plug the questionable word into this free tool and check to see if it’s in the Scrabble dictionary.

In general, you can’t use any words that require a capital letter, and no abbreviations. Also, you may or may not want to allow foreign words. One common way to play, if playing an English version of Bananagrams, is to only allow a foreign word if it is also found in an English dictionary.

Those are just some guidelines. Additionally, most players allow 2-letter words. But some die-hard word gamers prefer to prohibit 2-letter words.

What’s in the Pouch?

We mentioned that a pouch contains 144 letter tiles. But it’s helpful to know how many of each letter the pouch contains, so here’s a breakdown of the letter distribution:




(Video) How To Play BANANAGRAMS!

Can you play Bananagrams by yourself?

Of course! While it’s a fun game to play with 2 to 8 players, you can definitely practice your word smithery and kill some time by playing a game on your own. One fun way to play is the Bananagrams solitaire version, where you play with 21 tiles and try to beat your own time.

Keep the tiles face down and try to replicate a real game as much as possible.

How to Play Bananagrams: Tips for Success

Bananagrams Rules: How to Play (And Why You’ll Want to) (2)

Other than being fast and creative with your word skills, here are a few strategic tips that can level up your Bananagrams gamesmanship.

First, remember that the grid is flexible during game play. Meaning, you don’t need to get too fixated on your current grid. If it isn’t working, you can rearrange things to make it better and start fresh during the game. Everyone works on their grid at their own pace; there are no turns in this game.

On that note, keep an eye on your opponents’ grids. Are they moving along quickly or are they struggling to build their grid? Knowing how your competitors are doing will help with your own pacing.

Also, try to use those tricky letters as soon as possible. Get them out of the way so can build words quickly.

For example, let’s say you have a “Q” in your bunch. If you add the letter “I” you have the 2-letter word “QI” or: “the circulating life energy that in Chinese philosophy is thought to be inherent in all things.” (Source)

Nice one!

Which brings forth the next point: learn the weird and obscure 2 and 3 letter words. This can be a game changer.

You can also play lots of Scrabble for practice, as this will only increase your word game vocabulary, grid building skills and speed.

(Video) Bananagrams board game | Review * Amass Games *

And as we already mentioned, play some games by yourself. So, when you have your friends over for the weekly bananagrams game night, you’ll come out guns blazing.

Other ways to play Bananagrams

You can try to mix things up with fun game variations suggested by the makers of Bananagrams. Here’s one I like:

Banana Smoothie

Simply divide the tiles equally among all players. Now each player tries to use all their tiles to form words in a grid. The first player to use all their letters wins, That’s it!

No peeling or dumping. I actually prefer this way to play. It’s less hectic and still plenty challenging.

Is Bananagrams a bar game?

Bananagrams is clearly a great game for families. In fact, it’s recommended for ages 7 to 107!

But is it also a bar game? Since that’s what this site is all about, we have to ask. And the answer is a definite yes. We even feature Bananagrams in our list of the best bar games.

In fact, this game works well in pretty much any venue.

You can lay out the tiles and play a couple quick games over a round of drinks. Play in the park – play while travelling – play at work. You get the idea.

They even recommend playing the “Cafe” style of Bananagrams by drawing from the pouch instead of dumping the tiles out on the table. No dumping in this version, just peeling.

Conclusion: Let’s Play

The Bananagrams company is still based on Allens Ave in Providence, Rhode Island and run by the Nathanson family. They sell millions of games a year and have won several industry awards.

The game is a proven winner. It’s a great way to get your kids engaged in a game that doesn’t require a phone or iPad. And adults can’t get enough of this game either. It’s simple, yet challenging. Fast and very addictive.

(Video) Bananagrams Party Review - with Tom Vasel

If you haven’t played yet, pick up a set here and try it out.

Top Image Credit: Flickr


How do I get better at bananagram? ›

How To Win At Bananagrams
  1. Start Strong! ...
  2. Spread Your Wings, I Mean Words – Try not to box yourself in with tight, compact grids. ...
  3. Get Better With 2-Letters – Learn your two-letter words to use tough letters quickly. ...
  4. Substitution Solution – Say you have a V left to place in your grid. ...
  5. Fun And Done – It's cliché, but true.
Nov 5, 2018

What is the longest word you can make in Bananagrams? ›

"Pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism" is an unusual word because of the double "pseudo". It looks like a double negative, but it's really not.

Can you use 2 letter words in Bananagrams? ›

Play the regular Bananagrams rules but words must be three letters or longer. NO two letter words.

How does the banana game work? ›

All tiles are placed face down on the table. The letters are divided equally among players, remaining face down. Players then play a game of Bananagrams, but without "peeling" or "dumping". The first player to use all of his/her letters shouts "BANANAS!!" and is the winner of that hand.

Is Bananagrams good for your brain? ›

Spelling Games

Games that involve spelling, such as Scrabble or Bananagrams, offer a variety of brain and health benefits. Playing such games lowers the risk of developing mental illness or dementia. It improves overall memory and helps with word recollection overtime.

Is Qi a word in Bananagrams? ›

Here's the list to remember – make sure to at least remember 'qi' (doesn't need a 'u'), 'ax' (worth 9 points) and 'za' (it's common to have a spare 'a').

What words Cannot be used in Bananagrams? ›

The only real difference is that the inclusion of any word in the chosen dictionary shouldn't be a problem. Two definite rules regarding Bananagrams acceptable words are: Proper nouns cannot be used. Any available dictionary will work for the game.

What is the number 1 longest word? ›

In that case, what's the longest word in the English language dictionary? It's pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

Is OK a word in Scrabble? ›

"OK" is now OK to play in a game of Scrabble. The two-letter word is one of 300 new additions to the latest version of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, which Merriam-Webster released on Monday. Other words that you can now play in a Scrabble game include macaron, facepalm, emoji, puggle, and ew.

Is za an acceptable Scrabble word? ›

About the Word:

You may be surprised at the slang found on the tournament SCRABBLE board: BRO, HOMEY, and YO are all accepted words. ZA is the most played word containing the letter Z (and the only playable two-letter word with the letter Z) in tournament SCRABBLE play.

How many Z are in a Bananagrams? ›

2: J, K, Q, X, Z. 3: B, C, F, H, M, P, V, W, Y. 4: G. 5: L.

Which 2 letters are worth the most in Scrabble? ›

All Scrabble players know that Q and Z are the highest scoring tiles. You can get 10 points for each, in the English language version of the game.

What words use Q without U? ›

WordMeaningOther forms
qiyasAn analogy in Sharia, Islamic law.
qophThe nineteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet.Also written koph.
qormaA type of curry.Much more commonly written korma.
qwertyA standard English keyboard layout.Plural qwertys or qwerties. Also rendered QWERTY.
71 more rows

How do you play Flying monkeys? ›

Players take turns to launch their cheeky monkeys from the ground back into the tree. The player who successfully catapults all their monkeys into the tree first is the winner.

Can I use proper nouns in Bananagrams? ›

Proper nouns are NOT acceptable. Any available dictionary may be used. If all words are acceptable, that player is the WINNER. If any word in the grid is found to be unacceptable, that player becomes the ROTTEN BANANA and is OUT OF THAT HAND.

What is the Peel rule in Bananagrams? ›

Whenever a player places their last faceup letter in their grid, that person calls out “PEEL!” Every player—including the one saying “PEEL”—then takes another tile from the BUNCH. At any time during the game, you may call out “DUMP!” and put one of your letters back, facedown in the BUNCH.

Can you go upside down in Bananagrams? ›

IMPORTANT: Words can be horizontal or vertical, going from left to right or top to bottom. Players can rearrange their own words as often as they want.

What is the smartest board game? ›

Chess. No list of board games that help to develop thinking abilities and life skills is complete without the game of chess. Chess needs no introduction: created in India, it's been around for over 500 years and is one of the world's most popular strategy games.

Is Bananagrams better than Scrabble? ›

It all really depends on who the competition is. For those who don't have the patience for Scrabble, there's another word game out there that better suits you—Bananagrams. Even if you're in love with Scrabble, Bananagrams is worth a try because it's all about speed. Plus, it's easy to play.

What are the benefits of playing Bananagrams? ›

In addition to imparting a sense of fun while learning, the Bananagrams game offers a host of developmental benefits including literacy, fine motor skills, sequential thinking, visual processing, and more.

Can you spell letters in Bananagrams? ›

The goal is to be the first to use all of your starting letters in your word grid. You cannot use proper nouns or abbreviations. Each player creates their own, personal word grid (unlike Scrabble, where all players add on to one group grid).

What is a 3 letter word with qi? ›

3-letter words that start with qi
  • qis.
  • qin.
  • qic.
  • qid.
  • qie.
  • qik.
  • qio.
  • qip.

What are the most longest words? ›

10 Longest Words in the English Language
  1. Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (45 letters) ...
  2. Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia (36 letters) ...
  3. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (34 letters) ...
  4. Pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism (30 letters) ...
  5. Floccinaucinihilipilification (29 letters)
Jun 28, 2019

What words begin with Q? ›

Some of the Q Words for Kids are quiz, quick, question, Queen, quest, quill, quart, quit, quirk, qualify, qualified, qualifier, quiet, quite, quietly, quail, queue, quarter, etc.

What is the longest F word? ›

floccinaucinihilipilification (29).

What is the longest R word? ›

Noun. pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (uncountable) (nonce word) A disease of the lungs, allegedly caused by inhaling microscopic silicate particles originating from the eruption of a volcano.

Which is the shortest word? ›

The indefinite article a is only capitalized when it begins a sentence, but the pronoun I is always capitalized. Another single-letter word that is always capitalized is O. It's not common in everyday writing, but it appears as an interjection in poetry.

Is BAE a Scrabble word? ›

Yeehaw, meet bae, inspo, vibed and vibing, all new additions to the Scrabble dictionary.

Is Twerk a valid Scrabble word? ›

Believe it or not, you can play these words in an official Scrabble game. If you've ever wanted to play "OK," "ew," "twerk," or "emoji" in Scrabble, you're in luck.

Is OMG a Scrabble word? ›

omg is a valid English word.

What is a 3 letter word with Z? ›

What are the 3 Letter Words Starting With Z? The 3 Letter Words Starting With Z are zen, zee, Zoo, zip, zag, zap, zit, zin, zas, zek, zap, zed, etc. These are a few 3 letter words that start with Z.

Is ZZ a Scrabble word? ›

ZZ is not a valid scrabble word.

How many P are in Bananagrams? ›

Letter distributions in Bananagrams and other games
B a n a n a g r a m sS n a t c h
26 more rows
Jul 13, 2009

Why is it called Bananagrams? ›

After marathon sessions experimenting with various permutations of word games (and subjecting extended family and friends to hours of testing), the Nathansons finally came up with BANANAGRAMS. The name originated from Abe declaring, “This anagram game will drive you bananas!” – hence Bananagrams!

What is an R worth in Scrabble? ›

There are 225 squares on a Scrabble board. Point value is as follows: (1 point)-A, E, I, O, U, L, N, S, T, R. (2 points)-D, G.

What is the P value in Scrabble? ›

Point value is as follows: (1 point)-A, E, I, O, U, L, N, S, T, R. (2 points)-D, G. (3 points)-B, C, M, P.

What is highest scoring word in Scrabble? ›

Oxyphenbutazone: A type of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) This is theoretically the highest-scoring of all the Scrabble words—hooked to the right words, it would earn a whopping 1,778 points, found Dan Stock of Ohio.

What starts with an R? ›

List of R Words for Kids
  • 3 Letter R Words for Kids. Run. Ram. Roe. Red. Rim. Rye. Ran. Rod. Rug. Row. Rat. Rib. Raw. Rep. Rue. Ray. Rig. Rot. Ref. Rap. Rag. Rob. Reg. Rut. Rid. Rip. Rub.
  • 4 Letter R Words for Kids. Real. Rear. Roam. Rate. Rice. Rung. Risk. Ruth. Rosy. Role. Reed. Raft. Room. Raid. Robe. Road. Rack. Rake. Read. Rage. Rout. Rest. Ramp. Rife. Rose. Rang. Rink.

What is a 3 letter Q word? ›

3 letter words with the letter Q
  • qaf.
  • qat.
  • qis.
  • qua.
  • quo.
  • suq.

Which letter is next but one after Q? ›

In English, the letter Q is usually followed by the letter U, but there are some exceptions.

How do you play Bananagrams single player? ›

As a solo game, you play Bananagrams the same way as you would in a group – use your tiles to create your crossword, and the game is over when all of the tiles are used. It's still a race against the clock – you are just trying to beat your own best time instead of finishing before your opponents.

How do you play the card game banana split? ›

In this lively family game, players collect topping cards, and match them to the toppings pictured on the ice cream cards. When players complete their ice cream cards, they earn point disks and extra cards. Player with the most points wins. Wild cards, Extra Turns, and “Scoop” cards add more excitement to game play.

What is the breakdown of letters in Bananagrams? ›

The letter distribution is as follows: 2: J, K, Q, X, Z. 3: B, C, F, H, M, P, V, W, Y. 4: G.

What is not allowed in Bananagrams? ›

You cannot use proper nouns or abbreviations. Each player creates their own, personal word grid (unlike Scrabble, where all players add on to one group grid). Everyone should be playing simultaneously—there are no “turns” in Bananagrams. You are racing the other players to be the first to use all your letters.

Can you rearrange words in Bananagrams? ›

Players can rearrange their own words as often as they want. There are no turns in Bananagrams; everyone works on their own crossword independently of each other. It's a race to the finish! When a player successfully uses all their letters in a crossword, he or she says “PEEL!” and takes a tile from the bunch.

Can you rearrange letters in Bananagrams? ›

You may rearrange your grid at any time, and as often as you like. Whenever a player places their last faceup letter in their grid, that person calls out “PEEL!”

How do you play split or steal? ›

Split or Steal?
  1. If both choose Split, they each receive half the jackpot.
  2. If one chooses Steal and the other chooses Split, the Steal contestant wins the entire jackpot and the Split contestant leaves with nothing.
  3. If both choose Steal, neither contestant wins any money.

How do you play watermelon merge? ›

😊The hot decompression mini game in 2021, merge a big watermelon, will bring you a relaxing and pleasant gaming experience. 💖Simple and easy to play: just click to control the landing of the watermelon, and you can combine the fruits.

How do you play pass the potato? ›

Players toss or pass the potato back and forth from one to the other, either player-to-player around the circle, or back and forth at random. At some point, the potato music will stop. Whoever is caught holding "Chip" when the music stops must turn over his first card, revealing one of the letters.

How many C's are in Bananagrams? ›

The following is a reference list of the tile distributions in the word tile game bananagrams. It might come in handy if you've lost a tile and want to make a new one! The total number of tiles is 144.
Distribution of Letter Tiles in Bananagrams.
21 more rows
Jul 23, 2012

Are acronyms allowed in Bananagrams? ›

The rest of the players then inspect your Bananagram for legitimacy (no proper nouns, acronyms, abbreviations, or hyphenated words, just like in Scrabble).


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