What is “Buzz”? From Little Women, Chapter 3

Quick question: In Chapter 3 of Little Women, “The Lawrence Boy,” Jo and Meg are playing a game of Buzz while waiting for Hannah to come for them. Anybody know anything about this game? Is it a card game?

jo and laurie

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10 Replies to “What is “Buzz”? From Little Women, Chapter 3”

  1. Martha writes, “I found this by googling old-fashioned Buzz game. Came up with a book, Old Fahsioned Children’s Games: Over 200 Outdoor, Car trip, Song, Card adn…by Sharon Elizabeth O’Bryan.
    Has part of the directions listed, but I can’t copy/paste it.

    Says “This exciting counting game should be played at a fast pace by older children who have adding skills. Players sit in a circle. One player begins by counting “one”, the next says, “two,” and so on around the group. When the word “seven” is reached, the word “buzz” is substituted. Multiples of seven should also be skipped and the word “buzz” used.

    It’s not allowing me to scroll down to copy the rest.

    This actually sounds familiar! I wonder if we used to play this at youth group, or maybe I even used it teaching third grade?? It’s jogging my memory!

    Here’s another reference:
    Again, I can’t copy or paste, but if you scroll down, similar directions are there, saying Buzz in place of multiples of 7. Said it’s a very old game, but “always a very great favorite.”

    Hope that helps!”

    Thanks Martha!

    1. My daughter adds the following:

      “So in looking this up it reminded me that my kids have played a similar game. In math team in elementary and camp, they played bizz buzz.

      Every time a player hits a 3 or multiple of 3 he says buzz (e.g. 6) and every time he hits a number with a three in it he says bizz (e.g. 13) and when he hits a number that is both he says bizz buzz. (E.g. 3 or 33 or 36).

      So not just an antique parlor game. Good for learning the times tables.

  2. Sylvia writes, “I believe it was another name for the game of whirligig, a saw-edged wheel that you shot from a taught string that made a loud noise as it flew. I could see Laurie and the girls playing that! It was one of the games I played as a child too, as were so many of the 19th cent games we played before the advent of children’s tv, computers, etc! ”

    Thanks Sylvia!

  3. The version where one says buzz for a number with a seven in it or a multiple of seven is the classic one. The game is also referenced in the Betsy-Tacy books – the girls say that if they are not asked to dance they will hide in the cloakroom and play ‘buzz’ (from memory, not an exact reference.)

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