Mad Libs

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The improvisation game Mad Libs (from the English “ad lib”, which in turn comes from the Latin “ad libitum” - “as you wish”) is a game of words with a given gap . A player requests a series of words from another player to insert into gaps in a story. These insertions have a fun effect when the story is read aloud. The game is particularly popular with American children and is often played as a party game or as a pastime.

Mad Libs was invented by Leonard B. Stern and Roger Price in 1953 . In 1958 they published the first "Mad Libs" book themselves. The publisher Price Stern Sloan , now a sub-publisher of the Penguin Group , which was founded by Price and Stern, published today many more.


Mad Libs books have a short story on each page, but the most important words are replaced by spaces. Under each of these there is information that specifies the words to be used (e.g. noun , verb , place or part of the body.) A player asks the other players in turn for words that meet these specifications and that he can fill in the gaps without explaining the context of the searched word. Finally, the finished story is read aloud. The result is usually funny, surreal, and mostly nonsense.

An example of a Mad Libs set:

„Eines Tages _________________________ _______  nach New York um _______ zu sehen.“
             Verb (Vergangenheitsform) Name                      Substantiv

After the game this could come out:

„Eines Tages  Marco Polo nach New York um ein Ei zu sehen.“

Mad Libs has been imitated many times, most imitations are on the internet . They are sometimes used for language teaching purposes.

In Germany, a similar game is known under the name of Uncle Otto sitting in the bathtub . The English language , in which nouns, verbs and adjectives are hardly inflected , offers far more favorable conditions for this game than the German language.

Books (english)

See also

Web links