Common features of the game include holding up a number of fingers to indicate the number of syllables in the answer, silently replying to questions, and making a “come on”
gesture once the guesses become close; some forms of the games, however, forbid anything except physically acting out the answer.
Common signals The following gestures are commonly used in the game: • A number of fingers at the beginning of play gives the number of words in the answer.
Originally, the game was a dramatic form of literary charades: a single person would act out each syllable of a word or phrase in order, followed by the whole phrase together,
while the rest of the group guessed.
In the early 20th century, the 11th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica offered these two prose charades as “perhaps as good as could be selected”: “My first, with the
most rooted antipathy to a Frenchman, prides himself, whenever they meet, upon sticking close to his jacket; my second has many virtues, nor is its least that it gives its name to my first; my whole may I never catch!”.
• “Come on”, “close”, or “keep guessing” may be indicated by any “come here” gesture or by holding one’s hands toward each other and spinning them in circles • “More” or “add
a suffix” may be indicated by similar movements or by miming the act of stretching out a rubber band • “I” may be signed either by gesturing to one’s chest or eye • “Yes, correct”, in addition to more general signs such as nodding, is often
expressed in charades by pointing at or touching the nose with one hand while pointing at the correct guesser with the other, signifying “on the nose” • In India, thumbs up means English language, thumbs down is Hindi, thumb in horizontal
position is a state language like Marathi, Gujarathi, Kannada, etc.
 The amateurish acting involved in charades led to the word’s use to describe any obvious or inept deception, but over time “a charade” became used more broadly for any
put-on (even highly competent and successful ones) and its original association with the parlor game has largely been lost.
 By the time of the First World War, “acting charades” had become the most popular form and, as written charades were forgotten, it adopted its present, terser name.
 Later examples omitted direct references to individual syllables, such as the following, said to be a favorite of Theodore Roosevelt: I talk, but I do
not speak my mind I hear words, but I do not listen to thoughts When I wake, all see me When I sleep, all hear me Many heads are on my shoulders Many hands are at my feet The strongest steel cannot break my visage But the softest whisper can
destroy me The quietest whimper can be heard.
Words which cannot be explained other than by spelling (e.g., the or of) may be excluded from play except within larger phrases.
 Thackeray’s scenes—even those said to be “in pantomime”—included dialogue from the actors but truly “dumb” or “mime charades” gradually became more popular as well
and similarly dropped their descriptive adjectives.
 The acted form of charades has been repeatedly made into television game shows, including the American Play the Game, Movietown, RSVP, Pantomime Quiz, Stump the Stars,
Celebrity Charades, Showoffs and Body Language; the British Give Us a Clue; the Canadian Party Game and Acting Crazy; and the Australian Celebrity Game.
Common features of the modern game include: • Players are not allowed to play people or actors etc.
• A notebook or scraps of paper, used for one team to write the answer(s) to be performed by a member of the other side.
• Pointing at or tugging on an earlobe means “sounds like” • Moving hands or fingers closer together without touching means “shorter” • Holding the hands or fingers close
together without touching indicates a short word such as “if” or “of” that is difficult to act out on its own • A “T” gesture, like “time out”, means “the”.
 One charade composed by Jane Austen goes as follows: When my first is a task to a young girl of spirit, And my second confines her to finish the piece, How
hard is her fate!
 Acted charades In the early 19th century, the French began performing “acting” or “acted charades”—with the written description replaced by dramatic performances
as a parlor game—and this was brought over to Britain by the English aristocracy.
The answers were sometimes printed on the reverse of the fan, suggesting that they were a flirting device, used by a young woman to tease her beau.
but how great is her merit If by taking my whole she effects her release!
Today, it is common to require the actors to mime their hints without using any spoken words, which requires some conventional gestures.
A variant was to have teams who acted scenes out together while the others guessed.
[‘In Greek and Roman accounts of the story, it is Procne and not Philomela who becomes the nightingale. A mistaken etymology and Ovid’s ambiguity on the point seem responsible for having confused the two sisters.
1. ^ Jump up to:a b c d “charade,
n.”, Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
2. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f EB (1911).
3. ^ ‘Charades &c Written a Hundred Years Ago by Jane Austen and her family.’ Spottiswoode & Co., 
4. ^ Praed, Winthrop
Mackworth (1860), The Poetical Works of Winthrop Mackworth Praed, Vol. I, New York: Redfield, pp. 268–310
5. ^ Jump up to:a b c EB (1878).
6. ^ “charade, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, June 2015. Web. 1 September 2015.
7. ^ Jump up
to:a b c Thackeray, William Makepeace (1848), Vanity Fair, Ch. LI
8. ^ Brooker, Jewel Spears (2004), “Mimetic Desire and the Return to Origins in The Waste Land”, in Cassandra Laity; Nancy K. Gish (eds.), Gender, Desire, and Sexuality in T.S. Eliot,
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 149
2. Baynes, T. S., ed. (1878), “Charade” , Encyclopædia Britannica, vol. 5 (9th ed.), New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, p. 398
3. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911), “Charade” , Encyclopædia Britannica, vol.
5 (11th ed.), Cambridge University Press, p. 856
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/48380660@N04/4496277750/’]