Vish (game)

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In the game of Vish (short for vicious circle), players compete to find circularity in dictionary definitions.[1] Irish mathematician and physicist, John Lighton Synge, invented the multi-player, refereed game to emphasize the circular reasoning implicit in the defining process of any standard dictionary.


  1. Each of the players is given a copy of the same standard dictionary;
  2. The referee gives each a slip of paper with the same word (found in this dictionary) written on each slip—word chosen so that it has synonyms in its definition, but (preferably) the definition of any synonym does not (in that dictionary) list a synonym which is the originally assigned word;
  3. At "Go!", each looks up the assigned word, finds a synonym, looks that up, finds a synonym, etc.;
  4. The first player to be led, by this synonymous process, back to the originally assigned word cries "Vish!" and wins the game (unless his opponent successfully challenges the procedure of the alleged winner).



  • Synge, John Lighton (1951). Science: Sense and Nonsense. Ayer Co Pub. ISBN 0-8369-7332-1.[1][2] (search contents)