"Rock paper scissors" vs. "Rock scissors paper"

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Wed Sep 13 17:49:03 UTC 2006

On 9/13/06, James Callan <james.callan at comcast.net> wrote:
> I realized the other day that, while I almost always call the game "rock
> scissors paper," it's far more popularly known as "rock paper scissors."
> (I know Google results aren't gospel, but 58,700 vs. 2,000,000 is a victory
> of several significant decimal places. Plus, the game's World Society uses
> Rock Paper Scissors.)
> Is there any regional variation in which order people use for the 3 elements
> of this game, or is this just my own quirk?

Questions about variant names for this game come up fairly often on
alt.usage.english. Here are two threads from 2002:


The general consensus seems to be that "rock, paper, scissors" is the
most common variant in the US, while "paper, scissors, stone" is most
common in the UK. I don't know about more fine-grained regional

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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