Bananagrams Rules Made Simple: Everything You Need to Know

bananagrams word game tiles

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Want a fun party game that anyone can play? One that’ll test everyone’s vocabulary? Bananagrams is the game for you! Learning how to play Bananagrams is simple, but the fun is complex in all the right ways. Whether you’re playing with friends or with family and kids, you’ll be having a good time. Read over these Bananagram rules and instructions to learn all you’ll need for how to play this fun word game.

What Is Bananagrams? Spelling Out the Basics

Bananagrams is a grid-based word game. Players must spell as many words as they can, as quickly as they can. There are some obvious similarities with Scrabble. You still need to find words from an assortment of letter tiles. But, you’ll find that Bananagrams rules make for a very different kind of game. 

How Is Bananagrams Different From Scrabble?

Unlike Scrabble, you don’t play Bananagrams on a game board. Instead, you lay out letter tiles in intersecting grids to make words. Each player makes their own word grid, forming patterns similar to crossword puzzles. The grid can stretch out as far as you’d like, as you’re not restricted to the 15 x 15 square dimensions of a standard Scrabble board. 

Another difference with how to play Bananagrams is you don’t take turns like you do in Scrabble. Rather, players race to use all of their letter tiles first. And whereas Scrabble letter tiles have different point values, Bananagrams letters have no individual point value. 

Which Bananagrams Dictionary Should I Use?

As with any other word game, you need to establish ground rules for what words are and aren’t valid when playing Bananagrams too. We have a whole article on how to pick your definitive Bananagrams dictionary. When in doubt, sticking with a Scrabble dictionary is usually a safe bet. 

How Do I Set Up a Bananagrams Game?

Before you can start playing Bananagrams, you first distribute the appropriate number of letter tiles to each player. Players pull their tiles from the “Bunch” and place them face down in front of them. The Bunch is the game’s collection of letter tiles, which you set in a pile facedown in the middle. There are 144 letter tiles in Bananagrams.

The number of tiles you get depends on the number of players:

  • 2 to 4 players: 21 tiles

  • 5 to 6 players: 15 tiles

  • 7 to 8 players: 11 tiles

Bananagrams gameBananagrams game

Basic Instructions for How to Play Bananagrams

Ready to learn how to play Bananagrams? Once everyone has their tiles, you can begin the round.

  1. Choose one player to shout, “Split!” This is the signal for everyone to flip over all their letter tiles.

  2. Players form words by placing the tiles in a grid pattern. Words must connect to the grid, and you must spell them from top to bottom or left to right.

  3. If a player wants to replace one of their tiles, they can shout, “Dump!” They place one of their tiles back in the Bunch facedown and replace it with three new tiles. 

  4. The first player to play their last letter tile shouts, “Peel!” Everyone, including that player, then draws one more tile from the Bunch.

  5. Players continue placing and rearranging their tiles and shouting “Peel!” until there are fewer tiles left in the Bunch than there are people playing.

Is Peeling a Good Strategy in Bananagrams?

Generally, yes. It’s usually in your best interest to peel as quickly and as often as possible in Bananagrams if you want to win.

One of the core Bananagrams rules relates to the “peeling” dynamic in the game. What is peeling in Bananagrams? As mentioned above, “peeling” is when one player uses up all their letter tiles and announces that everyone must get one new tile from the Bunch. The official Bananagrams rules state that the first player to use up their tiles may shout, “Peel!” However, they don’t have to do it. They can wait for another player to do it. But, this just gives other players an opportunity to catch up in unscrambling letters

If you wait for another player to say, “Peel,” you’ll still need to get a new tile at that point. It’s a stronger strategy to overwhelm other players with as many tiles as possible, as quickly as possible. You’ll be closer to victory than they would be. 

Can You Repeat Words in Bananagrams?

Yes. As long as the word (and play) is valid, you can repeat words in Bananagrams as many times as you’d like. This is exactly the same as when you’re playing games like Words With Friends or Scrabble. In fact, there’s a good chance you may repeat some short words in order to complete your Bananagrams grid. 

What Are the Bananagrams Rules for Ending a Game? 

Knowing how to play Bananagrams is one thing. Deciding when the game ends and who wins is another matter. Declaring a winner is similar to shouting “Peel!” The first person to create words using all their letters shouts, “Top banana!” When they do, and there aren’t enough tiles left in the Bunch for everyone to draw, the game ends.

What Is a Rotten Banana in Bananagrams?

Once someone declares themselves as “Top Banana,” the other players check the validity of that person’s words. Not every word is acceptable. If their grid contains any misspelled words, abbreviations or proper nouns, other players can call them out as a “Rotten Banana!” If this happens, the self-proclaimed “top banana” is disqualified and removed from the game.

Who Is the Top Banana in Bananagrams?

If all of the words in the potential winner’s grid are legitimate, they keep their title of Top Banana. They win the game! The game ends and everyone returns their tiles to the Bunch to start a new game.

What Is Bananagrams Party Edition?

The gameplay in Bananagrams Party Edition is almost identical to the regular game. The key difference is that Party Edition includes 14 Party Tiles. They have bizarre and entertaining effects on how you play the game.

  1. Before the game starts, but after everyone has grabbed their letter titles, mix the Party Tiles facedown into the Bunch. 

  2. Make sure that everyone knows what every type of Party Tile does before you do.

  3. When a player draws a Party Tile from the Bunch, they must do whatever action is associated with it. 

This includes wacky things like standing on one leg for the rest of the round, using only one hand to form words and being allowed to steal one tile from any other player.

What Is Bananagrams WildTiles Edition?

Bananagrams WildTiles is another fun variation. Again, like with Party Edition, the basic gameplay is the same as with the original. The change comes from the inclusion of Wild Tiles. 

Wild Tiles can stand in for any letter. They work like blank tiles in Scrabble. Using these tiles adds a new dynamic to the game and makes it even more fast-paced. 

Can You Play Bananagrams Online?

Games like Scrabble have been adapted into online games and mobile apps, like Word Chums. The same thing isn’t quite true for Bananagrams just yet. That said, you can still play with friends online using video calls and modified rules. Follow our guide on how to play Bananagrams online for more information.

Plenty of Other Fun, Family-Focused Games

Bananagrams is a great game because it’s easy to start and is continually engaging. Its designers wanted it to be fun for anyone. There are plenty of games out there that share similar and welcomed design goals. If you want to find more games to play, start by reading WordFinder's list of seven great board games that anyone of any age will love.

Zac Pricener has been a content creator for the past eight years. He’s a bit of an all-around nerd, and he has a bad habit of working movie and TV show references into conversations whenever possible.


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