Knife Game Series: Mumblety-peg

Knife Game Series- Brughel painting of Mumblety-peg

In our Knife Games Series we look to games played with knives. Many of theses games are from days gone by as the popularity of carrying pocketknives, especially among school boys has declined.

Today’s edition features a knife game called Mumblety- peg (also known as mumblepeg, mumble-the-peg, mumbledepeg or mumble-de-peg). I’ve always heard it called Mumble-peg.

While the origin of the game is impossible to determine, it is recounted in Tom Sawyer, Detective written by Mark Twain in 1896 as a boy’s favorite outdoor game.

Mumblety-peg has many variations. Some are only slightly different, others are totally different games.

The similarities, however, are they are all competitive and are usually played with two players. The other common element is the knife is more “flipped,” instead of thrown, in trying to stick it in the ground.

One of the simplest versions of the game is this one-

This is a game for two players, though more players can be involved. Usually, a circular target is drawn on the ground in soft earth. Players alternate turns. At a signal from one player, IT attempts to “drop” the knife into the target without looking.

In fact, it is this variation believed to be depicted in the 1560 painting by Pieter Brueghel called Young Folks At Play now displayed at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. There are at least 80 games going on in this scene and one is Mumblety-peg.

Another common variation is called “mumble the peg.” This game results in the loser pulling the knife (or peg) from the ground with his teeth, hence the term “mumble” the peg. Merriam-Webster dates the origin of this phrase to 1627.

Next up in the Knife Game Series- Split the Kipper

Photo credit:

Published in: on January 16, 2010 at 8:29 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Introducing the CNJ Knife Game Series

Knife Game Series

“Playing knives” is my way of describing the fun I have with all things knife related and the camaraderie with fellow knife enthusiasts. And yet today, I’m introducing a new series that is literally playing with knives. It is entitled Knife Games.

Knife games are the epitome of playing with knives. They are recreation. In some cases, they served as a pastime and in others a venue for competition.

The Knife Games Series will look at all the different games using knives- from yesterday and today. I hope you enjoy, and if you know of one, let me know.

But before we begin I need to say- this series is a documentary and is not intended to be instructional. I will not be held responsible for injuries, deaths or dismemberment of any of your, or anyone else’s, members. If you aren’t able to play knives without hurting yourself or others, then leave it in your pocket. There I got that disclaimer out of the way, let’s have some fun. 🙂

Stay tuned for the first Knife Game-


Image credit:

Published in: on November 26, 2009 at 12:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,