Counting-out game

A counting-out game is a simple game intended to select a person to be "it", often for the purpose of playing another game. These games usually require no materials, and are played with spoken words or hand gestures.

Many such games involve one person pointing at each participant in a circle of players while reciting a rhyme. A new person is pointed at as each word is said. The player who is selected at the conclusion of the rhyme is "it" or "out". In an alternate version, the circle of players may each put two feet in and at the conclusion of the rhyme, that player removes one foot and the rhyme starts over with the next person. In this case, the first player that has both feet removed is "it" or "out". These are often accepted as random selections because the number of words has not been calculated beforehand, so the result is unknown right up until someone is selected.

A variant of counting-out game, known as Josephus problem, represents a famous theoretical problem in mathematics and computer science.

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Counting-out games

Several simple games can be played to select one person from a group, either as a straightforward winner, or as someone who is eliminated. Rock, Paper, Scissors and Odd or Even require no materials and are played using hand gestures, although with the former it is possible for a player to win or lose through skill rather than luck. Coin flipping and drawing straws are fair methods of randomly determining a player. Bizz Buzz is a spoken word game where if a player slips up and speaks a word out of sequence, they are eliminated.

Common rhymes

(These rhymes may have many local or regional variants.)

  • Tarzan, Tarzan
Tarzan, Tarzan
In a tree.
How many gallons did he pee?
(The counter proceeds counting off the number of 'gallons' the person he landed on says.)
  • Whose shoe is the dirty shoe - everyone stands in a closed circle and stick one foot out in front of them, the shoes are pointed out in turns as the rhyme is sung:
Whose shoe is the dirty shoe
Please go out and wash your dirty shoe
And come back to school
By Monday morning
  • One potato, two potato - players may start with both fists (to resemble potatoes) in, so they have to be picked twice to be out.
One potato, two potato
Three potato, four,
Five potato, six potato,
Seven potato, more,
One big bad spud.
  • Ink-a-Dinkado (Last two lines added if the chooser happens to like the person singled out by the "stink")
Ink-a-Dinkado
A bottle of ink
Cork fell out and you stink
My mother told me to pick the very best one and
You are not it
  • Bubblegum, Bubblegum
Bubblegum, bubblegum,
In a dish,
How many pieces,
Do you wish?
(Whomever the rhyme ends with chooses a number, and that many "pieces" are counted. The person on whom the last number falls is out.)
  • Harum, scare'em
One spot, two spot, zig-zag, tear.
Pop-die, pennygot, tennyum, tear.
Harum, scare'em, rip'em, tear'em.
Tay, taw, toe.

This was used in the Marx Brothers film Duck Soup.

  • Superman
Superman, Superman fly away
Superman, Superman save the day
  • Inky Binky Bonky
Inky Binky Bonky,
Daddy had a donkey,
Donkey died, daddy cried,
Inky Binky Bonky.
  • Skunk in the barnyard
Skunk in the barnyard, PU!
He laid a big one, on you!
  • Horses in a Stable
[Number] horses in a stable,
One jumps out
(In place of [Number], the number of players currently in is used, changing as the players are taken out.)
  • My Mother and Your Mother
My mother and your mother were washing clothes,
My mother punched your mother right in the nose.
What color was her blood?
(The color chosen is spelled out. Whoever gets the last letter is "it".)
  • Cindereller
Cindereller, dressed in yeller
Went upstairs to kiss her feller
Made a mistake and kissed a snake
Came downstairs with a bellyache
How many doctors did it take?
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8!
(Whoever is #8 is it.)
  • Scout, Scout
Scout, Scout
You're out
  • Pizza Pie—Players hold their hands out like two slices of pizza, similar to "One Potato, Two Potato":
Pizza pizza pizza pie,
If you eat it you will die,
If you die I will cry,
Pizza pizza pizza pie.
  • Engine, engine #9
Engine, engine #9
Going down Chicago line
If the train falls off the track,
Do you want your money back?
(The person picked chooses yes or no)
(The "counter" spells out Y-E-S (or N-O))
And you are it!
  • Ink In the bottle
Ink in the bottle, you stink!
Where did it come from? From you!
When did it happen? Last night!
How did it feel? Just right!
  • Tea Cup Saucer Out

See also

  • Selection methods

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • counting-out game — noun A childrens rhyme used to select a person from a group, more or less at random …   Wiktionary

  • counting-out rhymes —    Used by children (and sometimes adults sotto voce) to make a random choice between options but particularly to choose who will be it in a game. The children stand in a circle or line, and one child points to each in turn in the rhythm of the… …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • counting-out rhyme — ˈ ̷ ̷ ̷ ̷| ̷ ̷ noun : one of the meaningless rhymes (as “eeny, meeny, miney, mo”) traditionally used to count out a player in a child s game …   Useful english dictionary

  • Counting Crows — at Ancienne Belgique , Brussels, 2008; from left to right: Jim Bogios, Adam Duritz, David Immerglück, and Charlie Gillingham. Dan Vickrey is cut off at the left extreme and Millard Powers can be seen behind Duritz. Background informa …   Wikipedia

  • Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums — Front Cover of the single Single by A Perfect Circle from the album eMOTIVe …   Wikipedia

  • Out — (out), adv. [OE. out, ut, oute, ute, AS. [=u]t, and [=u]te, [=u]tan, fr. [=u]t; akin to D. uit, OS. [=u]t, G. aus, OHG. [=u]z, Icel. [=u]t, Sw. ut, Dan. ud, Goth. ut, Skr. ud. [root]198. Cf. {About}, {But}, prep., {Carouse}, {Utter}, a.] In its… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Out at — Out Out (out), adv. [OE. out, ut, oute, ute, AS. [=u]t, and [=u]te, [=u]tan, fr. [=u]t; akin to D. uit, OS. [=u]t, G. aus, OHG. [=u]z, Icel. [=u]t, Sw. ut, Dan. ud, Goth. ut, Skr. ud. [root]198. Cf. {About}, {But}, prep., {Carouse}, {Utter}, a.]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Out from — Out Out (out), adv. [OE. out, ut, oute, ute, AS. [=u]t, and [=u]te, [=u]tan, fr. [=u]t; akin to D. uit, OS. [=u]t, G. aus, OHG. [=u]z, Icel. [=u]t, Sw. ut, Dan. ud, Goth. ut, Skr. ud. [root]198. Cf. {About}, {But}, prep., {Carouse}, {Utter}, a.]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Out in — Out Out (out), adv. [OE. out, ut, oute, ute, AS. [=u]t, and [=u]te, [=u]tan, fr. [=u]t; akin to D. uit, OS. [=u]t, G. aus, OHG. [=u]z, Icel. [=u]t, Sw. ut, Dan. ud, Goth. ut, Skr. ud. [root]198. Cf. {About}, {But}, prep., {Carouse}, {Utter}, a.]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Out of — Out Out (out), adv. [OE. out, ut, oute, ute, AS. [=u]t, and [=u]te, [=u]tan, fr. [=u]t; akin to D. uit, OS. [=u]t, G. aus, OHG. [=u]z, Icel. [=u]t, Sw. ut, Dan. ud, Goth. ut, Skr. ud. [root]198. Cf. {About}, {But}, prep., {Carouse}, {Utter}, a.]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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