throw (n.)


Jenga is a game of physical and mental skill, marketed by Hasbro, in which players remove blocks from a tower and put them on top. The word jenga is derived from kujenga, the Swahili verb "to build"; jenga! is the imperative form.


Jenga is played with 54 wooden blocks; each block is 3 times as long as it is wide, and slightly smaller in height than in width. The blocks are stacked in a tower formation; each story is three blocks placed adjacent to each other along their long side, and each story is placed perpendicular to the previous (so, for example, if the blocks in the first story are pointing north-south, the second story blocks will point east-west). There are therefore 18 stories to the Jenga tower. Since stacking the blocks neatly can be tedious, a plastic loading tray is included.

Once the tower is built, the person who built the tower moves first. Moving in Jenga consists of taking one and only one block from any story except the completed top story of the tower at the time of the turn, and placing it on the topmost story in order to complete it. Only one hand at a time may be used to remove a block; both hands can be used, but only one hand may be on the tower at a time. Blocks may be bumped to find a loose block that will not disturb the rest of the tower. Any block that is moved out of place may be left out of place if it is determined that it will knock the tower over if it is removed. The turn ends when the next person to move touches the tower, although he or she can wait 10 seconds before moving for the previous turn to end if they believe the tower will fall in that time.

The game ends when the tower falls in any significant way -- in other words, any piece falls from the tower, other than the piece being knocked out to move to the top. The loser is the person who made the tower fall (i.e. whose turn it was when the tower fell); the winner is the person who moved before the loser.


The game in its current form was invented in 1974 by Leslie Scott. It grew out of a childhood game created around a present of wooden building blocks purchased from a local wood craftsman in Ghana. The family called it 'Takoradi Bricks' after the city in which it was made. She brought the game to England in the 1980s and introduced it to her friends at Oxford University. Calling it 'Jenga", she started selling the game and took out copyright on the rules. Jenga was promoted in the United States by Robert Grebler and was first manufactured there by Milton Bradley (now part of Hasbro) in 1987.

Official Hasbro Variants

Throw 'n Go Jenga is a variant marketed by Hasbro. It consists of blocks that are colored red, blue, or yellow plus a six-sided die. Before each move, the player throws the die and then follows the instructions on the die:

  • Yellow/End: Remove any yellow block or remove any color end block.
  • Red/Mid: Remove any red block or remove any color middle block.
  • Blue/End: Remove any blue block or remove any color end block.
  • Any two: Remove any two blocks of any color in any position.
  • Wild: Remove any color block in any position
  • Reverse: Don’t remove any blocks, but pass the die to the next player in the opposite direction.

Other than the fact that the die determines the proper move, play continues the same as regular Jenga.

Jenga Truth or Dare is an adult variation of Jenga also marketed by Hasbro. This version looks like regular Jenga except there are three colors of blocks, red, green and natural, instead of just the natural color of Jenga. Play is the same, but if you move a red block on your play, you have to complete the dare printed on it before stacking the block on top. If you move a green block, you have to truthfully answer the question printed on the block before stacking it. The natural blocks have nothing printed on them and are played as in Jenga. However, it is permissible to write your own truths or dares on the natural blocks if desired.

Jenga Xtreme uses blocks with different shapes and angles instead of the rectangular blocks of Jenga.

Casino Jenga: Las Vegas Edition employs a roulette-style game play, featuring a felt game board, betting chips, and additional rules.

As well, there have been a number of collector edition Jenga games, featuring the colours and logos of the Boston Red Sox, Oakland Raiders, New York Yankees, John Deere, among others.

Video game

Jenga World Tour was announced by Atari in July, 2007 for the Nintendo Wii and DS and released on December 7, 2007.

Jenga Around The World

In Israel the game is called "Mapolet", which means "avalanche" in Hebrew.

The Danish name for the game is "Klodsmajor", meaning "klutz", with a play on words, as "klods" also means brick/block, referring to the jenga blocks. It is usually played in the style of Throw n' Go, but with a die with red, blue and yellow faces and no 'wild', 'pass' or position options.

In Brazil, this game is called "Torremoto". The name is a joke made of two Portuguese words: terremoto, which means earthquake and torre, which means tower.


There have been numerous games similar to Jenga throughout gaming history. Ta-ka-radi is a game that was sold in the 1970's by L.L. Bean with a similar premise as Jenga, having to remove blocks and place them on the top of a tower. Ta-ka-radi is slightly different than Jenga in that the tower is built with gaps between each block, unlike Jenga in which each block is touching. Also, the addition of "Jungle Rules" brings a different skill level. When "Jungle Rules" are in effect, players are able to distract the player who is up by any means necessary, other than physical contact. Common "Jungle Rules" methods to distract a player include yelling, "Here come the cops!" or, "Your chair is on fire!". Because of these rules, many skilled players consider Ta-ka-radi much more difficult than regular Jenga. Ta-ka-radi is very common in the Northern Lake George area, specifically Hague, New York.

The name is very similar to the original name of jenga, Takoradi Bricks, so maybe it is just a previous release.

Jenga In Pop Culture

A game of Jenga is played on the comedic cartoon American Dad! between Hayley and Roger in the episode Black Mystery Month. This game takes over 2 days because Roger is trying to decide his first move. At one point Hayley wakes up to the sound of the collapsing Jenga tower and declares how hilarious it is that after all that time Roger's first move collapses the tower, to which Roger replies that it was just a practice tower he built to test his move and that this is not illegal because he "...called Hasbro and checked, they said it was against the spirit of the game but not illegal." This has not been confirmed in real life however.

In the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon, Howard and Rajesh play the game because, according to Sheldon, "The Internet has been down for a half-hour."

Jenga was also featured prominently in the development of the alternative pornography site Suicidegirls, as the owners, developers, and primary users engaged in a multi-year ladder


  • Jenga is a registered trademark of Pokonobe Associates.


External links

Search another word or see throw (n.)on Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature