Mad Libs

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The cover of the first Stern and Price Mad Libs book

Mad Libs is a phrasal template word game created by Leonard Stern[1][2] and Roger Price.[3] It consists of one player prompting others for a list of words to substitute for blanks in a story before reading aloud. The game is frequently played as a party game or as a pastime.

The game was invented in the United States, and more than 110 million copies of Mad Libs books have been sold since the series was first published in 1958.[3]


Mad Libs was invented in 1953[4] by Leonard Stern and Roger Price. Stern and Price created the game, but could not agree on a name for their invention.[3] No name was chosen until five years later (1958), when Stern and Price were eating Eggs Benedict at a restaurant in New York City. While eating, the two overheard an argument at a neighboring table between a talent agent and an actor.[3] According to Price and Stern, during the overheard argument, the actor said that he wanted to "ad-lib" an upcoming interview. The agent, who clearly disagreed with the actor's suggestion, retorted that ad-libbing an interview would be "mad".[3] Stern and Price used that eavesdropped conversation to create, at length, the name "Mad Libs".[3] In 1958, the duo released the first book of Mad Libs, which resembled the earlier games[5] of consequences and exquisite corpse.

Stern was head writer and comedy director for The Steve Allen Show, and suggested to the show's host that guests be introduced using Mad Libs completed by the audience. Four days after an episode introduced "our guest NOUN, Bob Hope", bookstores sold out of Mad Libs books.[6]

Stern and Price next partnered with Larry Sloan, a high school friend who was working as a publicist at the time, to continue publishing Mad Libs.[7] Together, the three founded the publishing firm Price Stern Sloan in the early 1960s as a way to release Mad Libs.[8] In addition to releasing more than 70 editions of Mad Libs under Sloan, the company also published 150 softcover books, including such notable titles as How to Be a Jewish Mother, first released in 1964; Droodles, which was also created by Roger Price; The VIP Desk Diary; and the series World's Worst Jokes.[3][7]

Price died in 1990, and three years later, Sloan and Stern sold Price Stern Sloan, including Mad Libs, to the former Putnam Berkley Group, which is now known as Penguin Random House.[7] Mad Libs books are still published by Penguin Random House; however, all references to Price Stern Sloan have been removed from the company's official website. Stern died at age 88 on June 7, 2011,[9] and Sloan on October 14, 2012.[3][7][8]

More than 110 million copies of Mad Libs have been sold since the game series was first published in 1958.[3]

Predecessors of Mad Libs[edit]

It is unclear whether the creators of Mad Libs were aware of existing games and books similar to their own. One such game is Revelations about my Friends, published anonymously by Fredrick A. Stokes Companies in New York in 1912.[10][6] Like Mad Libs, the book invites the reader to choose words of different categories which then become part of a story. The nineteenth century parlor game "Consequences" and the surrealists' Exquisite Corpse game are also similar to Mad Libs.


Mad Libs books contain short stories on each page with many key words replaced with blanks. Beneath each blank is specified a category, such as "noun", "verb", "place", "celebrity", "exclamation" or "part of the body".[11] One player asks the other players, in turn, to contribute a word of the specified type for each blank, but without revealing the context for that word. Finally, the completed story is read aloud. The result is usually a sentence which is comical, surreal and/or takes on somewhat of a nonsensical tone.

Stern and Price's original Mad Libs book gives the following sentence as an example:[12]

 "___________! he said ________ as he jumped into his convertible ______ and drove off with his _________ wife."
exclamation           adverb                                     noun                         adjective 

After completion, they demonstrate that the sentence might read:

 "Ouch! he said stupidly as he jumped into his convertible car and drove off with his brave wife."


The following is a list of most Mad Libs books in alphabetical order:[13]

  • 70s Mad Libs
  • 80s Mad Libs
  • 90s Mad Libs
  • A Very Mad Libs Christmas
  • Ad Lib Mad Libs
  • Aggretsuko Mad Libs
  • All I Want for Christmas Is Mad Libs
  • American Dad! Mad Libs
  • Baby Shower Mad Libs
  • Barbie Mad Libs
  • Bee Movie Mad Libs
  • Best of Mad Libs
  • Birthday Party Mad Libs
  • Bob's Burgers Mad Libs
  • Bob's Burgers Grand Re-Opening Mad Libs
  • Camp Daze Mad Libs
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Mad Libs
  • Christmas Cards Mad Libs
  • Christmas Carol Mad Libs
  • Christmas Cheer Mad Libs
  • Christmas Fun Mad Libs
  • Club Penguin Mad Libs
  • Clue Mad Libs
  • Cool Mad Libs
  • County Fair Mad Libs
  • Crazy Crafting Mad Libs
  • Dance Mania Mad Libs
  • Day of the Dead Mad Libs
  • DC Comics Super Hero Mad Libs
  • Dear Valentine Letters Mad Libs
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid Mad Libs
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid Mad Libs: Second Helping
  • Dinosaur Mad Libs
  • Dinosaur Mad Libs Junior
  • Disney Princess Mad Libs
  • Diva Girl Mad Libs
  • Doctor Who Mad Libs
  • Dog Ate My Mad Libs
  • Don't Get Mad Libs, Get Even Funnier
  • Dude, Where's My Mad Libs
  • Dungeons & Dragons Mad Libs
  • Dysfunctional Family Therapy Mad Libs
  • Easter Basket Mad Libs
  • Easter Eggstravaganza Mad Libs
  • Eid al-Fitr Mad Libs
  • Election Day Mad Libs
  • Escape from Detention Mad Libs
  • Family Guy Mad Libs
  • Family Tree Mad Libs
  • Fear Factor Mad Libs
  • Fear Factor Mad Libs: Ultimate Grossout!
  • Field Trip Mad Libs
  • Finding Dory Mad Libs
  • First Day of School Mad Libs
  • Foo Fighters Mad Libs
  • Frozen Mad Libs
  • Game Over! Mad Libs
  • Gender Reveal Party Mad Libs
  • Give Me Liberty or Give Me Mad Libs
  • Go for the Gold! Mad Libs
  • Gobble Gobble Mad Libs
  • Godzilla Mad Libs
  • Goofy Mad Libs
  • Grab Bag Mad Libs
  • Graduation Mad Libs
  • Grand Slam Mad Libs
  • Gravity Falls Mad Libs
  • Halloween Party Mad Libs
  • Hanukkah Mad Libs
  • Happily Ever Mad Libs
  • Happy Birthday Mad Libs
  • Happy Diwali Mad Libs
  • Happy Housewarming Mad Libs
  • Happy Howl-o-ween Mad Libs
  • Happy Kwanzaa Mad Libs
  • Happy New Year Mad Libs
  • History of the World Mad Libs
  • Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Mad Libs!
  • Hold Your Horses Mad Libs
  • Holly, Jolly Mad Libs
  • Home from School Mad Libs
  • Hot Off the Presses Mad Libs
  • Hot Wheels Mad Libs
  • How to Train Your Dragon Mad Libs
  • I Love Seattle Mad Libs
  • Impractical Jokers Mad Libs
  • Indiana Jones Mad Libs
  • JoJo Siwa Mad Libs
  • Keep It Curious, George Mad Libs
  • Kid Libs Mad Libs
  • Kung Fu Panda Mad Libs
  • L.O.L. Surprise! Mad Libs
  • LEGO Mad Libs
  • LEGO Star Wars Mad Libs
  • Letters from Camp Mad Libs
  • Like Father, Like Mad Libs
  • Love the Earth Mad Libs
  • Luck of the Mad Libs
  • Lunar New Year Mad Libs
  • Mad About Animals Mad Libs
  • Mad About Mad Libs
  • Mad Libs 40th Anniversary Edition
  • Mad Libs 50th Anniversary Edition
  • Mad Libs for President
  • Mad Libs Forever
  • Mad Libs From Outer Space
  • Mad Libs in Love
  • Mad Libs Mania
  • Mad Libs on the Road
  • Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad Libs
  • Mad Scientist Mad Libs
  • Mad, Madder, Maddest Mad Libs
  • Marvel's Avengers Mad Libs
  • Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Mad Libs
  • Marvel's Spider-Man Mad Libs
  • Masters of the Universe Mad Libs
  • Meow Libs
  • Merry Christmas! Love, Mad Libs
  • Merry Merry Mad Libs
  • Mickey Mouse Mad Libs
  • Minions Mad Libs
  • Mitzvah Mad Libs
  • Monopoly Mad Libs
  • Monster Mad Libs
  • Monster Mash Mad Libs
  • More Best of Mad Libs
  • Mother Knows Mad Libs
  • Much Ado About Mad Libs
  • Nickelodeon: Nick 90s Mad Libs
  • Night of the Living Mad Libs
  • Ninjas Mad Libs
  • Off-the-Wall Mad Libs
  • Olaf's Frozen Adventure Mad Libs
  • Operation Mad Libs
  • Over The Hedge Mad Libs
  • Parks and Recreation Mad Libs
  • Peace, Love, and Mad Libs
  • Penguin Classics Mad Libs
  • Pets-a-Palooza Mad Libs
  • Pirates Mad Libs
  • Pokémon Mad Libs
  • Presidential Mad Libs
  • Presidential Mad Libs
  • Pride Parade Mad Libs
  • Prime-Time Mad Libs
  • Rick and Morty Mad Libs
  • Roald Dahl: The Witches Mad Libs
  • Rock 'n' Roll Mad Libs
  • Scooby-Doo Mad Libs
  • Shark Attack! Mad Libs
  • Slam Dunk Mad Libs
  • Sleepover Party Mad Libs
  • Sonic the Hedgehog Mad Libs
  • Son of Mad Libs
  • Sooper Dooper Mad Libs
  • SpongeBob SquarePants Mad Libs
  • Spy Mad Libs
  • Star Trek Mad Libs
  • Star Wars Mad Libs
  • Star Wars Droids Mad Libs
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars Mad Libs
  • Steven Universe Mad Libs
  • Stocking Stuffer Mad Libs
  • Straight "A" Mad Libs
  • Supersize Mad Libs
  • Teachers Rule! Mad Libs
  • The Amazing World of Gumball Mad Libs
  • The Big Bang Theory Mad Libs
  • The Incredibles Mad Libs
  • The Muppets Mad Libs
  • The Office Mad Libs
  • The Original #1 Mad Libs
  • The Penguins of Madagascar Mad Libs
  • The Powerpuff Girls Mad Libs
  • The Wizard of Oz Mad Libs
  • The World of Roald Dahl Mad Libs
  • Totally Pink Mad Libs
  • Toy Story Mad Libs
  • Transformers BotBots Mad Libs
  • Travel Far and Mad Libs
  • Trick or Treat Mad Libs
  • Trolls Mad Libs
  • Undead Mad Libs
  • Unicorns, Mermaids, and Mad Libs
  • Unidentified Flying Mad Libs
  • Upside Down Mad Libs
  • Vacation Fun Mad Libs
  • Valentine's Day Mad Libs
  • Who Was? Mad Libs
  • Winter Games Mad Libs
  • Wonder Woman Mad Libs
  • WWE Mad Libs
  • You've Got Mad Libs

Other media[edit]

A game show called Mad Libs, with some connections to the game, aired on the Disney Channel in 1998 and 1999.

Several imitations of Mad Libs have been created, most of them on the Internet. Imitation Mad Libs are sometimes used in educational settings to help teach kids the parts of speech.[11][14]

Looney Labs released Mad Libs: The Game, a card game, in 2016. There is also a Mad Libs mobile app.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Duralde, Alonso (January 12, 2012). "Review: 'Contraband' Operates by the Numbers, Loses Count". Reuters. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
  2. ^ "A look back at 2011's notable departures –". June 9, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Wang, Regina (October 18, 2012). "'Mad Libs' Publisher Larry Sloan Dies". TIME. Retrieved November 17, 2012.
  4. ^ "As Mad Libs turn 50, play an exclusive game". Today. MSNBC. April 16, 2008. Retrieved June 30, 2019.
  5. ^ Weekend Edition Saturday (February 24, 2007). "'Revelations' About a Precursor to 'Mad Libs'". NPR. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
  6. ^ a b Stern, Leonard. "The History of Mad Libs". Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d Werris, Wendy (October 15, 2012). "Obituary: Larry Sloan, 89". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved November 17, 2012.
  8. ^ a b Nelson, Valerie J. (October 17, 2012). "Larry Sloan dies at 89; co-founder of 'Mad Libs' publisher". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 17, 2012.
  9. ^ Fox, Margalit (June 9, 2011). "Leonard B. Stern, Creator of Mad Libs, Dies at 88". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Anonymous (1912). Revelations of my Friends. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company Publishers.
  11. ^ a b "Mad Libs and Dangling Participles – SchoolBook". The New York Times. January 9, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
  12. ^ Price, Roger; Leonard Stern (1974). The Original Mad Libs 1. Price Stern Sloan. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-8431-0055-6.
  13. ^ "Mad Libs". Retrieved June 27, 2021.
  14. ^ "Schools Scramble to Prepare Students". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. October 7, 2002. Retrieved January 23, 2012.

External links[edit]