From what I could find in the rules,

Letters and numbers are valid clues, as long as they refer to meanings. You can use X: 1 as a clue for RAY. You can use eight: 3 as a clue for BALL, FIGURE, and OCTOPUS

However, they didn't give any example of numbers greater than twenty like "twenty-one", "twenty-two", "four hundred twenty-six","nine hundred eleven", "nine eleven", and "nine one one" which are borderline more than one word, and more than one word is clearly stated in the rules as not allowed unless it falls under the section "Flexible Rules" for pronouns and hyphenated words. Below 21, all numbers are one word like "thirteen", "seventeen" etc.

I'd like to do "911" aka "nine eleven" for the terrorist attack on 9/11 2001. It is probably equivalent in terms of ruling to "nine hundred eleven" and "nine one one", as in should probably be treated the same in the rules (whether allowed or not allowed).

  • 2
    I disagree with your conclusion about the 3 phrasings being the same. Even if "nine hundred eleven" is deemed valid because it is a single 3 digit number, "nine one one" or "nine eleven" is not. They may be "spelled" the same, but "nine one one" is three separate digits/words, and "nine eleven" is two separate numbers/words.
    – GendoIkari
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 4:43
  • @GendoIkari That’s true that one is a single 3 digit number and the others are multiple words. I did not think of that. I just thought about the amount of words/spaces in between. I completely agree with you now Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 4:57
  • When I've answered you other questions about validity of clues I've always focused on "Don't be too strict'. if they rules don't explicitly say no, your group are enjoying it, and the clue is in spirit of the game it's probably fine. I've given years as clues in Codenames and Just One. they are fine as clues as they can be helpful or unintentionally mislead like any other clue. Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 17:05

2 Answers 2


Codenames enjoys a variety of flexible rules and often it's up to the opposing spymaster to allow cases like this. 9/11 could definitely fit in either of the following 2 flexible rules, but since they are flexible rules, it's best left to the group to decide if it's allowed or not.

While technically wildly different, 9/11 is not just a date, but it's the common name used for an event. Just like Super Bowl are two words, most groups would allow it as a compound word.

Compound Words

English has three ways to write a compound word. Greenhouse is one word. Pack rat is two words. Mother-in-law is hyphenated. Technically, only greenhouse can be a one-word clue. You can decide to allow any compound words. However, in no case should a player be allowed to invent compound words. Lunar squid is not a valid clue for MOON and OCTOPUS.

Acronyms and Abbreviations

Technically, CIA is not one word. But it is a great clue. You can decide to allow common abbreviations like UK, lol, and PhD. And words like laser, radar, and sonar are always allowed, even though they originated as acronyms.

Remember, don't be too strict. If the opposing spymaster allows it, the clue is valid. If you aren't sure, ask your opponent. (Quietly, so the others can't hear.)


Just as the rules say your group might agree to treat "New York" as a word, even though it is two words and therefore not allowed by the stock rules (and so the topic would need to be brought up and agreed upon before the game), your group might agree to allow numbers ("nine hundred and eleven") as words, even though some numbers are more than one word.

I don't think you could reasonably stretch that to dates, phone numbers, or other strings of digits, though.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .