“25 Words or Less” is a game show for people with a profound fascination for words and trivia. Proficiency with words and vast trivia knowledge is what it takes to win this game. 

This game show is an adaptation of the 1996 board game that goes by a similar title. Contestants must guess a series of words in a limited amount of time, with a limited number of clues provided. Requiring a lot of team coordination and “word smartness,” “25 Words or Less” is aimed at those who take their family party game nights seriously.

“25 Words or Less” is produced by Bruce Sterten, Mary McCormack, Dan Bucatinsky, John Quinn, Lisa Kudrow, Mary McCormack, Meredith Vieira, and Michael Morris.

The show has received mixed reviews from its audience, with a current 6.3/10 IMDB score. This article contains news regarding the release of the latest season, the game rules, and how you can stand a chance to participate in the show. 

How Does “25 Words or Less” Work?

Two teams consisting of three contestants each compete in the show. The first two seasons teamed up two celebrities with one civilian. In the third season, the team format changed to two civilians and one celebrity. The game comprises three rounds and a bonus round.

Round One

In the first round, each celebrity (clue giver) from both teams is shown a list of five words. After that, both clue givers bid against each other as to who can use lesser clue words to help their other two team members guess all five words. The host, Meredith, sets the opening bid at 23 words. The clue giver who bids the lowest number plays the round with their teammates. 

If the team guesses all five words correctly within 45 seconds, they score 250 points. Alternatively, the opposing team is awarded 250 points if the following occurs:

  • The team cannot guess all the words within the time limit.
  • The clue giver displays a hand signal.
  • The clue giver utters the word or part of the word by mistake (illegal clue).
  • The clue giver uses more words than they bid.

In the second part of the first round, two other individual members from both teams get to be the clue-givers. 

Round Two

In the next round, clue-givers from both teams (civilians in seasons one and two and celebrities in season three) are successively shown five sets of three words each. Each set consists of words with increasing difficulty in three colors: green, yellow, and red. These colors are individually worth 250, 500, and 1000 points. 

The clue-giver from the trailing team picks the first word from the first set, and then the opponent selects the second word from the remaining two options. Next, the clue-givers alternate picking the first word from the remaining four sets. The unchosen word from each set is discarded.

In this round, both teams get a chance to guess the words. The trailing team goes first. The teams get 45 seconds on the clock, and the number of word clues is limited to 20.  

A team scores 1000 bonus points for guessing all five words correctly. A word becomes invalidated if a clue-giver gives an ‘illegal clue.’ The team with the higher score wins. The round can also end prematurely if the score gap between the two teams makes it impossible for the trailing team to catch up. 

The winning team becomes the champion team and proceeds to the bonus round. The defeated team is awarded a consolation prize. 

Bonus Round

The bonus round is the money round. The champion team plays for a chance to win the $10,000 prize. A civilian teammate becomes the clue giver for this round.

The clue words limit is 25-words, and the timer is set to one minute. The round ends if the time given elapses, or if the clue giver gives an ‘illegal clue,’ displays a hand signal, or exceeds the clue words limit. 

If the team guesses all answers correctly, the civilians are awarded $10,000. However, if they fail, they are awarded a consolation prize. 

Where Can You Watch “25 Words or Less?”

“25 Words or Less” is available to watch on local TV channels through antenna and cable streaming. You can also stream it on the following: 

The complete episodes of seasons one, two, and three are available for free on the “25 Words or Less” YouTube channel. 

What Happened in Season 3 of “25 Words or Less?”

Here are the most significant highlights of the third season:

  • The show format changes to two contestants and one celebrity. Season three had an extensive format change. The team combination adjusted to two civilians and one celebrity instead of two celebrities and one civilian in seasons one and two. 
  • Repeat champions are permitted in the show. Teams that make it to the bonus round will be accepted to compete again until they are defeated. This presents a serious opportunity to stack the prize money or consolation prizes.
  • Twin brothers get all the answers right on their first attempt. The twins, Marcus and Jason Luna, the repeat champions of “25 Words or Less,” make history on the show by guessing every word correctly on the first try. Melissa Peterman also deserves the credit for giving great clues. 
  • $10,000 won by a fraction of a second. In a heart-beat-raising moment, Jaleel White and his civilian team members Ashley and Robert win the $10,000 prize by guessing the word just a fraction of a second before the timer rang.
  • Greg smartly concedes a 20-word bid. Typically, the clue giver with the lowest bid steals the show. However, everyone was surprised when Greg Grunberg conceded to Gabrielle Ruiz’s 20-word bid. Greg’s hunch turned out to be true, and Gabrielle’s team lost the round by the timer.

About”25 Words or Less” Host Meredith Vieira

Meredith Vieira

Meredith Vieira, the award-winning ex-host of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” is currently hosting “25 Words or Less.” She began her career in 1975 as a 22-year-old new announcer for WORC radio. In the following years, she switched to TV reporting and anchoring at WJAR-TV. 

Her hosting career took off in the eighties when she hosted shows for big networks, CBS, ABC, and NBC. In her 45-year-long career, she has hosted, co-hosted, and anchored numerous shows, including “Today,” “The View,” “Turning Point,” “2014 Winter Olympics,” etc.

As the game show host of “25 Words or Less,” Meredith does an excellent job keeping the conversation flowing. She gives credit to her career as a journalist for developing soft skills that help her bond with contestants. 

During the pandemic, the crew started filming seasons two and three remotely instead of using the studio in Los Angeles. Concerning working from her home studio in New York, she tells TV Insider, “One of the reasons I was so thrilled to get the opportunity to host “25 Words or Less” was the ability to go to the set. There was something so cool about going to the studio in L.A. and being with folks in a studio and interacting on a personal and physical level. There is no substitute for that.”

What Celebrities Have Been on the “25 Words or Less” Cast?

The show features numerous TV personalities in different capacities. Here is a list consisting of the most famous members of the “25 Words or Less” cast:

Melissa Peterman

Melissa is also the fan-favorite celebrity on this show. “Reba” is her most well-received series in which she plays Barbra Jean. “Baby Daddy” and “Young Sheldon” are two of her other popular shows.

Matt Iseman

Matt started his career as a physician. Using his experience in the field, he began doing stand-up comedy. He is famously known for his interesting play-by-play commentary in the game show “American Ninja Warrior.” 

Colton Dunn

Colton is best known for playing Garrett McNeil in the NBC workplace comedy “Superstore.” Colton has also written episodes for “MadTV,” “Pretend Time,” and a few other shows. 

Dan Bucatinsky

Dan rose to fame with his recurring role as James Novak in the TV show “Scandal.” He has also been active as a producer for several TV series.

Ross Mathews

Ross is a TV host and personality who debuted as an intern at “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” Since 2015, he has been the main judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” a competitive reality series. He also co-hosts “The Drew Barrymore Show” and “Adorableness.”

Raven Symoné

A four-year-old Raven first appeared on “The Cosby Show” as Olivia Kendall. She continued playing roles in movies and TV shows throughout her childhood and teens. Raven simultaneously began her singing career at age seven, signing up with MCA records. 

Will “25 Words or Less” Have a Season 4?

The official “25 Words or Less” YouTube channel has confirmed the recording-in-progress of season four on the 2nd of June. You can expect season four to release in the next couple of months. 

The social media accounts of this show are highly active. You can join them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to catch the latest updates. The team is also accepting contestant forms for upcoming episodes.

Learn More About the Best Movies and Shows on BuddyTV

There is something thrilling about fast-paced word game shows. And thankfully, we are not going to fall short of such games any time soon. Check out other BuddyTV articles and discover game shows that are equally entertaining and informative, like “25 Words or Less.”

Rebecca Swanson

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV