Bananagrams Rules And How To Play

Fun for both children and adults, the name of Bananagrams was chosen due to being an anagram game that can drive players bananas! First released in 2006 and best enjoyed as a multiplayer game with friends and family, all that’s needed to play is some space to place each of the game’s letter tiles.

Bananagrams pieces

The only pieces needed for a game of Bananagrams are its letter tiles, which are contained within a convenient banana-shaped pouch. The game has tiles for every letter in the English alphabet and doesn’t include any blank tiles such as those given in Scrabble or Words With Friends.

How many tiles in Bananagrams?

A breakdown of the games 144 letter tiles is given below:

  • There are 60 vowel tiles (41.67%)
  • There are 84 consonant tiles (58.33%)
  • The three most common letters are E (18 tiles), A (13 tiles) and I (12 tiles).
  • The three least common letters are J, K, Q, X and Z (2 tiles each).
Letter tileNumber of tiles

How to play Bananagrams

Bananagrams is a really simple word-game to play that can be great fun for the whole family, bringing together gameplay elements from both Scrabble and Boggle. The objective of the game is to correctly use all of your letters to form a grid before any other player is able to do so.

  1. After taking all of the letter tiles out of the pouch, lay them face down on a flat surface in between each of the players and mix them around. These face down letters will be referred to as the bunch.
  2. Next, each player should take the same number of tiles from the bunch, which is based upon the total number of players playing the game. 
  • 2 – 4 players: 21 tiles
  • 5 – 6 players: 15 tiles
  • 7 – 8 players: 11 tiles
  1. When each player has the correct number of tiles placed face down in front of them, one player will say “split”. At this point, each player should begin flipping over all of their respective tiles simultaneously to see which letters they have. 
  2. As soon as a player has flipped all of their tiles face up they should begin arranging them into their own intersecting word grid to the best of their ability. To make a word grid, words can be placed horizontally (left to right) or vertically (top to bottom). Additionally, each word formed must connect to another word by at least 1 letter and each player’s word grid can be rearranged as many times as needed. 
  3. After a player has completed their grid, or connected together as many letters as they can possibly fit onto the grid, they can say “peel” to force every player (including the player themself) to take an additional tile from the bunch. 
  4. Alternatively, any player can call out “dump” to return one of their letters face down back to the bunch, in exchange for 3 new tiles. Unlike peeling, dumping only applies to the player that calls for it and there is no limit to the number of times it can be used, provided there are still a sufficient number of tiles in the bunch to choose from.
  5. Players should continue this process of adjusting their letter grids, peeling and dumping letters until there are less tiles remaining in the bunch than the total number of players playing the game. At this point, the end game will begin and the first player to successfully connect all of their available letters into a word grid and shout “bananas!” will have a chance to win the game.
  6. When this happens, it is the responsibility of all of the other players to inspect the player’s completed grid. If it happens to contain any words with spelling mistakes, abbreviations, proper nouns or other unaccepted words, the other players should call out “rotten banana!”, which will eliminate the player who shouted “bananas!” from the game. 
  7. The tiles of the eliminated player should be returned face down back to the bunch before play resumes once more. This process (steps 7-8) continues until one player eventually creates a successful grid and is declared as the winner, receiving the title of top banana!

Best of all, Bananagrams players don’t need to use any other equipment like pencils, paper or timers and as the game is played simultaneously, players do not have to spend countless minutes waiting for their turn. Get started today and see what word grid you are able to create to beat your friends and family!

Bananagrams dictionary

According to the official Bananagrams rulebook, any dictionary available at hand can be used by players to determine whether or not each word placed is accepted. Despite this, at WordsRated we still suggest using one of the dictionaries used in the most popular word games, such as the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (OSPD), NASPA words list (NWL) or Collins Scrabble Words (CSW). 

To make the rules slightly more flexible and forgiving, the group’s players can agree beforehand whether to accept slang and other specific words that aren’t in the dictionary. All in all it doesn’t really matter which dictionary is used, as long as each player is playing by the same rules. 

Alternate Bananagrams game rules

In addition to playing the game according to the official rule book, there are a number of house rule variations of Bananagrams players to try out.

Best of…

As Bananagrams is such a fast-paced game, many times it can leave players wanting more. Instead of playing for just one round at a time, you can turn the game into a best of 3, 5 or as many rounds as you like!

Playing in this format gives each player multiple opportunities to win a stand-alone round, which is a great way to encourage younger players to play for more time in particular. When the game has finished, the player who wins the most rounds overall will become the “top banana”!

Banana Smoothie

In this less frenetic Bananagrams variation, all facedown tiles at the start of the game should be divided equally between the players. Every player is forced to use only their starting tiles  throughout the duration of the game, which often results in a more methodical round.

Players must compete to create a full letter grid in the same way as in regular Bananagrams, but letter peeling or dumping is not allowed. The first player to create a successful grid using all of their letters will win the game.

In the event of a stalemate, the player who has created the longest word will be the winner. If both players also have the same longest word-length, another round should be played to find the champion.

Banana Café

If you only have time for a shorter game, Banana Café is a great variation that can be played on-the-go. Each player should blindly take 21 tiles facedown directly from the game’s pouch and play Bananagrams according to all normal rules except peeling (which is not allowed). 

This means that if a player would like some additional tiles, they will have to dump 1 tile and  pick 3 new tiles, increasing their tile count over their opponent. As with the ordinary game, the first player to create a successful grid using all of their letters will win the game. 

Banana Solitaire

Bananagrams can even be enjoyed as a solo game for players who would like to improve their word-building skills and those who are looking for some alone time. To do so, the player should take 21 facedown tiles and try to play the game according to the regular rules. 

To make it challenging, players can try to beat their best time for correctly completing a word grid, or even try to complete a word grid using as few words as possible. As Banana Solitaire is a solo game option, the choice is entirely up to the player!

What is My First Bananagrams?

Designed for pre-readers and early learners, My First Bananagrams has been designed using 80 single-letter tiles and 13 combo-letter tiles. All of the letter tiles are also provided in lower case and the game is intended to act as a compliment to the standard reading curriculum.

Altogether, this entry-level version of the game can help children develop a love for word-play that should help build their vocabulary at quicker rates. My First Bananagrams can even provide the first-step that eventually leads to them playing the full game.

What is Double Bananagrams?

Double Bananagrams is an expanded version of the popular word game for up to 16 players. It features 288 letter tiles instead of the standard 144 and is recommended for players aged 7 and up.

As Double Bananagrams is played by a much larger number of players, it is the perfect game to bring out during a birthday party or family get-together. Remember, only one player can become top banana, so make sure to bring your A-game!

Games like Bananagrams

If you have played Bananagrams and are now looking for a new challenge, why not check out some of the following games that share similar concepts and also encourage word-building?

  • Scrabble – The original grid based word-building board game that features point scoring and premium squares.
  • Words With Friends – An social app that is similar to Scrabble but with an adapted grid and a range of additional game modes.
  • Boggle – Players must make as many words (at least 3-letters long) as they can from 16 shuffled letter dice within 3 minutes, by connecting letters together horizontally, vertically or diagonally.