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Have You Played... Codenames?

A call to lovers of words and puzzles

For those poor pitiable souls who haven't yet played the wonderful Codenames, I present to you the below puzzle. Take a look, and if you like, come up with your best answer in the comments. If you enjoy the puzzle, you'll enjoy Codenames.

The puzzle:

Take the following list of 12 words. Your goal is to come up with a single new word which relates to the three bold words at the top, but none of the others. Imagine you're playing with a friend or family member, and you have to get them to guess the top three but no others. If they get any of the three words wrong based on your clue, you lose.

Oh, and your clue word cannot be, or contain any part of, any of the 12 words in the list. Ready? Let's take a look.

  • Cotton
  • Peach
  • Cold
  • Ninja
  • Soup
  • Tube
  • Ink
  • Grace
  • Block
  • Shorts
  • Bermuda
  • Manicure

I'll give you a minute.


Yeah, it's a tough one. I have no idea either. But if you're like me, the challenge of coming up with an answer is probably going to be a highlight of your day. Codenames forces you into these situations time and time again. The actual game works by pitting two teams (red and blue) against each other. Everyone is presented with the same grid of words. Some words are secretly red, others secretly blue. Each team has a Spymaster who can see the colours and who must come up with clue words that lead their team to guessing their colour words but none of the others.

Being the Spymaster is torturous and delicious in equal measure. There's a lot of responsibility, a lot of weight riding on your linguistic prowess and your understanding of your teammates' minds. The endgames are particularly stressful, as they often lead you into situations like the challenge described above, where you have no choice but to try and link three words in a single clue, and every clue you think of might lead your teammates astray towards other words.

If you fancy giving Codenames a go, it's never been easier to do so. The developers have released a free browser-based online version of Codenames which allows you to set up a game and invite your friends and to play. No downloads, no accounts, no payments. My family have started playing it on weekends in a great big group call. It's a wonderful thing.

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Ollie Toms avatar

Ollie Toms

Guides Editor

Ollie is sheriff of Guidestown at RPS, and since joining the team in 2018, he's written over 1,000 guides for the site. He loves playing dangerously competitive games and factory sims, injuring himself playing badminton, and burying his face in the warm fur of his two cats.