ESL Game: Strange Words

    ESL Game: Strange Words

    Strange Words is a simple activity that is aimed at intermediate and above students. In this activity students are given unusual and strange words from the English language. In teams,  students must invent a definition for the word. Later, the teams are shown all the definitions plus the actual definition and each team must guess what is the correct definition.

    Activity time: 15 minutes + (shorter or longer rounds can be played)

    Materials required: List of unusual words and their definitions. See the download below.

    Skills practiced: Brainstorming, writing and negotiating.

    Level: Teen and Adults intermediate +


    1. Divide the class in equal teams of no more than four students.
    2. Write one of the words on the board from the list below. Next, tell students what part of speech the word is (noun, verb, adjective etc).
    3. Explain to your students that they must invent a definition for the word and make it as believable as possible.
    4. As soon as each team is finished writing their definitions they must give it to the teacher. Once the teacher has all the definitions, the teacher reads them out in a mixed order including the actual definition.
    5. Next, students decide what the real definition to the word is. Award points for each correct answer.

    Alternative Ideas:

    • Award points to teams who can guess which team wrote each definition.

    A list of words you could use:

    Word Part of speechDefinition
    ShallopNounA light sailing boat used mainly for coastal fishing or as a tender.
    SpurrierNounA person who makes spurs.
    TranspicuousAdjective Transparent.
    VerjuiceNouna sour juice obtained from crab apples or unripe grapes.
    PetrichorNounthe earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil.
    XenologyNounthe scientific study of extraterrestrial phenomena.
    AbomasumNounthe fourth stomach of a ruminant, such as a cow or sheep.
    DismurderizedAdjective Divested of the character of murder; pronounced to be not murder.
    ZoolatryNounthe worship of animals.
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