ESL Games: Hink Pink – Word Game

The Game: You might know this word game by a whole bunch of other names like Hank Pank, Brain Train, Stinky Pinky, or Wordy Gurdy. The game is made up of a phrase that conveys an adjective paired with a rhyming noun (e.g., a funny bunny, or a big wig). Some people like to use the one-syllable word name for one syllable answers, and the two-syllable names for two syllable answers. But the idea of the game is the same.

Research Says: It is a fun way to practice language skills. The game helps with word recall and with understanding word meaning by playing with words. Hink Pink is a highly motivating game because it is so fun. It breaks a common perception that all learning should be serious in nature and that if “…one is having fun and there is hilarity and laughter, then it is not really learning” (Lee Su Kim, Creative Games for the Language Class).

The object of Hink Pink is to have students think of words that match given definitions. The game is played in a whole class setting with individuals or students in small groups who try to guess the adjective and noun that rhyme with the given clue. You can play with single- or double-syllable words based on the language level of your students.  The clues can be presented visually or orally.

Materials Needed

  • Word cards
  • Dictionary and thesaurus for each student or group of students

How to Play

  1. Students are given a word card to complete. They answer any number of Hink Pinks or complete the entire card.
  2. Students work individually or in groups to find the rhymes.
  3. Students write the correct answers in the blanks under the clues.

How to Make It

  1. From the given list (or some of your own), select 24 Hink Pinks to write in the squares.
  2. Prepare one card and make a photocopy for each student/group of students.
  3. Allow a set amount of time to complete.
  4. Share and discuss answers.


  1. The clues can be read orally for the class to guess, or there can be teams of students who compete against each other in trying to solve the Hink Pinks.
  2. You can also play with a word card (much like a Bingo card) that needs to be filled with the correct answers so students can work at their own speed. In this variation, the clues do not need to be read aloud. Students complete the work independently by reading the clues and writing the suggested rhyming answer on their cards.
  3. Students can try to get so many correct answers in a given time frame or complete the chart in some way (four corners, five in a row, etc.)
  4. Students can write their own Hink Pinks to use or trade them with other students.
  5. Students can research Hink Pinks to study additional adjectives that rhyme with nouns and why these are a “play on words.”
  6. Students can be assigned a Hink Pink to present to the class and explain its meaning.
  7. Instead of thinking of the correct answer, students match the correct answer to the given clues.

Some Hink Pinks to Get You Started


  • A bashful insect:  Shy fly
  • A tiny insect:  Wee bee
  • A blackbird that doesn’t fly fast:  Slow crow
  • A skinny little horse:  Bony pony
  • A cautious bird:  Wary canary
  • A chubby kitten:  Fat cat
  • A dark-colored sled dog:  Dusky husky
  • A humorous rabbit:  Funny bunny
  • A wet puppy:  Soggy doggy
  • A greased bird:  Slick chick
  • A rodent’s headgear:  Rat’s hat


  • A better café:  Finer diner
  • A light-red beverage:  Pink drink
  • Dehydrated soup:  Chowder powder
  • A fat fish:  Stout trout
  • A chocolate bar dropped on the beach:  Sandy candy
  • A fuzzy fruit:  Hairy berry
  • A fat sandwich:  Chub sub
  • Cooked reptile:  Baked snake
  • Sweet potato preserve:  Yam jam

Having to Do With People

  • A paper book thief:  Book Crook
  • The chief of police:  Top cop
  • A boxer who lost weight:   Lighter fighter
  • An impolite man:  Rude dude
  • A sensible pupil:  Prudent student
  • An oversized hairpiece:  Big wig
  • A smarter author:  Brighter writer
  • A smiling father:  Happy pappy
  • A tardy spouse:  Late mate
  • A naughty boy:  Bad lad

Have fun coming up with your own Hink Pinks, and feel free to share any you come up with here!


Read Marc’s other ESL Games posts. Marc’s previous blogs with TESOL as a guest blogger include the highly popular “Best Language Learning Games” series.

About Marc Anderson

Marc Anderson
Marc Anderson is the CEO of online English training company that teaches English online to students around the world. During his free time he likes to read, travel and enjoy life.
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4 Responses to ESL Games: Hink Pink – Word Game

  1. Charlie says:

    Didn’t have the ones I’m looking for (I’m a student, and my mind doesn’t want to function well as I have insomnia,) but still were very fun to read!

  2. Kelsie says:

    I am a student at Chisholm elementary and i was just introduced to these today, I’ve had a very fun time so far

  3. Monte says:

    My students loved these Hink Pinks and so will yours! A fun, rhyming critical thinking activity that will help build student vocabulary.****THIS WORKSHEET HAS THE SAME HINK PINKS THAT ARE IN THE HINK PINK TASK CARD FREEBIE THAT IS IN MY TPT STORE****This product includes:One student worksheetOne An

  4. John murray says:

    What do you call a chocolate bar that is easy to reach?

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