Earlier, I've asked a question about whether poetry elements/sound devices like alliteration, assonance, consonance, and rhyme (Is it legal to use poetry elements/sound devices as hints like "alliteration 3", "assonance 3", and "rhyme 3" in Codenames?), and the consensus was that it was illegal because it didn't refer to the meaning of the words but just the way they were spelled. I'm curious about synonyms/antonyms because they refer to the meanings of words, but only the meaning of cards on the board compared to other cards on the board as opposed to the clue itself (I know that sounds complicated, but please read my examples below for an explanation.)

An example of "synonyms 2" would be for "ice" and "water" because it might be hard to come up with a clue that doesn't have water in it--closest I can think of is "cup 2", "moisture 2", "refrigerator 2" or "cold 2" but can hit unwanted cards.

An examples of "antonyms 2" would be "quiet" and "shout". I think "volume 2" could work perhaps there are other cards on the board that are related to volume that you don't want to hit, like "music".

The rules state:

Your clue must be about the meaning of the words. You can't use your clue to talk about the letters in a word or its position on the table. Gland is not a valid clue for ENGLAND. You can't tie BUG, BED, and BOW together with a clue like b: 3 nor with a clue like three: 3. However …

I am thinking it is valid because synonyms are antonyms are about the meaning of the words. However, I'm a bit sketchy about it because it's not the meaning of say "ice" that is related to the clue "synonyms 2", but it is that a card on the board "ice" that relates to another card on the board "water". It doesn't say you can't link cards on the board using other cards on the board, but I would imply that when it says "Your clue must be about the meaning of the words", it could suggest that the meaning of the word must be related to your clue, not the other card. "ice" is certainly not related to "synonym".

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    The clue is usually about the meaning of each word individually. You're asking if the clue can be about the collective meanings of the words. This is a grey area. By that, I mean it's a question of opinion unless someone can find someone kind of official precedent. While probably not the intended meaning of the rules, I'd allow it. It's far enough away from the spelling and position of the words and close enough to the meanings of the words to be in the spirit of the rules.
    – ikegami
    Commented Jul 31, 2020 at 4:37
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    On the definitely ok side, we have "phases 2" for "water" (the liquid phase of water) and "ice" (the solid phase of water). That still applies to each word indivudally even though it only makes sense when used for the combination of two phases.
    – ikegami
    Commented Jul 31, 2020 at 4:37
  • @ikegami I am curious about this; in chemistry and physics, those are states (ie liquid abs solid). Where does the term “phase” for those come from? Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 22:57
  • @GuybrushMcKenzie, The words are often used interchangeably, but Wikipedia gives them different-but-related definitions. "[Phase of matter] is sometimes used as a synonym for state of matter, but there can be several immiscible phases of the same state of matter." To confound the issue, changes are in states are called phase transitions?
    – ikegami
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 1:47

2 Answers 2


From the rules:-



If the opposing spymaster allows it, the clue is valid.


Sometimes you have to make judgment calls about what is valid and what is not. Different groups may prefer to play the game differently.

For any question about if a clue is a valid all the above applies. Unless there is a rule which prohibits a clue its more than likely ok.

I've seen clues given for the meaning of groups of words. A team had just "ICE" and "QUEEN" left to guess and gave the clue "NARNIA 2" to hint at those which for out group was OK. As long as you don't say things like "this is for a group", or "this is a stretch" then its fine.

  • But aren't all clues like that? Someone could relate "ice" and "queen" from Narnia, Frozen, or The Office (US), among many others. The point is to pick a word that best connects multiple "agents." Commented Jul 31, 2020 at 13:34
  • Agreed, Narnia is not a good example here because it's still related to each of the words individually - you could give the clue "Narnia 1" for either of Ice or Queen and it would still 1) be clearly allowed within the rules and 2) even has a good chance of being a successful clue (depending on what else is on the board). What makes OP's question different is that "antonyms 1" would be complete nonsense aiming for either of Quiet or Shout by itself - the clue only makes any sense for the group. Commented Jul 31, 2020 at 16:11
  • A better example would be "fungus: 2" for "mush" and "room". Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 20:35

Yes. The clues "synonyms" is about the meaning(s) of the word(s) and not the spelling or sound of the word(s) or position(s) on the board or anything else other than the meaning(s) of the word(s).

Yes, it's a stretch, perhaps, but most clues are [citation needed].

The point is that it adheres to / doesn't violate any of the "firm rules" in the rulebook (and also doesn't violate any of the flexible rules, either, for that matter).

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    citation from rules for you "For example, don't say, "This may be a bit of a stretch..." You are playing Codenames. It's always a bit of a stretch." Commented Jul 31, 2020 at 17:18
  • @StartPlayer: Brilliant, thanks. I remember hearing that quote, but thought it was from the forums. Commented Jul 31, 2020 at 18:59

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