Play the Minister’s Cat Word Building Game to Boost Vocabulary!


“The naming of cats is a difficult matter.  It isn’t just one of your holiday games…” T.S. Eliot, The Naming of Cats

We are all used to learning different types of words.  It’s part of our everyday life, really.  Nouns are the ‘naming words’, verbs are the ‘doing words’ and adjectives are the ‘describing words’.  Adjectives have always been my favourite.  They always seem to me to be the most interesting.  I particularly like the ones with several syllables and a variety of consonants and vowels.  FLAMBOYANT, MAJESTIC, VOLUMINOUS, just to name a few.

When I was a child, my grandmother introduced my sister, brother and I to a great word building game.  It was called The Minister’s Cat.  I would like to share it with you.  If you are looking for word puzzle games to play with your kids, then this it! Like T.S. Eliot, perhaps we could call also it The Describing of Cats.

It’s a great way to get you thinking,  improve your spelling, build your vocabulary, and enhance your ability to solve crosswords and codewords.

When playing The Minister’s Cat, your dictionary is your best friend.  It helps you find and learn new words, check synonyms and antonyms, which will in turn help you come up with other words to use in the game.  Keep it on hand like you do when you play Scrabble.  Another good idea is to write the words down on a jotter, so that you will remember them for future reference, and continue to boost your vocabulary to enhance your ability to do more puzzles. The Minister’s Game can also double as a spelling bee.

The way we used to play it was using the alphabet starting at A and rotating through our  group until we got to Z.  For example: The Minister’s Cat was an AMIABLE cat, the Minister’s Cat was a BORING cat, the Minister’s cat was a CANTANKEROUS cat, the Minister’s cat was a DARING cat, and so on.  The words can be as imaginative (and unrelated to each other) as you like.

Another way to play the game is to start with an adjective and keep it going as long as you can.   Perhaps draw straws to see which person in your group will start.  Then the only rules you have to remember are that the word must be an adjective, and the next word has to start with the letter that the previous word ended with.

For example, the sequence might start with  BEAUTIFUL ;  LACKLUSTRE ; ELEGANT ; TRYING ; GORGEOUS… you get the idea…

It’s an ideal word game to play on a wet afternoon, or around the table at dinner time.  It’s great fun, and by the end of the game, I guarantee you’ll be in fits of laughter, because the words will be so many and varied.  You really become sorry for the poor cat!

When you get to the letter X, you may think you have hit a roadblock. It is a case where X doesn’t mark the spot, unless of course, your cat has been x-rayed, or enjoys playing the xylophone!  Never fear, we have found the solution.  Although there are virtually no adjectives that start with the letter X, there are plenty that contain the sound EX.  Look for words like EXHILARATING, PERPLEXING, INEXORABLE.

Play the Minister’s Cat word game when you are travelling in the car with the family. Don’t get bored with a long drive… have fun thinking and playing with words.  There are huge learning and entertainment benefits.  All you need to pack are your thinking caps, which don’t take up any room in your luggage.

Why not build us a list of words and send them to the Clue Detective.  We will turn them into a crossword/codeword for you!



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