Whac-a-mole vs. Guacamole

I came across an interesting question asked to a reporter in the Charlotte Observer. Actually, I initially thought it was a really stupid question, but part of the answer surprised me. The question was:
Q. Is the name of the carnival game Whac-a-Mole derived from the word "guacamole"?
Like I said, I thought it was a stupid question. Just because the two words end in "mole," that doesn't mean they have anything to do with each other. And sure enough, the reporter, Jeff Elder, confirmed that the name "Whac-a-mole" is not, in any way, derived from the word guacamole. He called up Michael Lane, chief financial officer of Bob's Space Racers of Daytona Beach, Fla., makers of Whac-a-Mole. Lane said, "The name origin in English is a short way to describe the action of play."

But the weird part of the answer is that Guaca-mole is a trademarked name for the game in Spain, Mexico, and other Spanish-speaking countries. "The reason for this name, Lane says, is that pronunciation in Spanish is very similar for Whac-a-Mole and Guaca-Mole." So the two words are linked, in a roundabout way.

I say Whac-a-mole with three syllables and Guacamole with four syllables (pronouncing the "e" on the end), but I'm guessing Spanish speakers must pronounce Whac-a-mole with four syllables. And if you say it in this way, it can sound a lot like Guacamole.


Posted on Fri May 25, 2007


Whack-a-mole is one of my favorite games 😊
Posted by oppiejoe  on  Fri May 25, 2007  at  03:43 PM
It seems some people out there have given this waaaaaay too much thought 😉
Posted by Nettie  on  Fri May 25, 2007  at  10:54 PM
I horrified the people at my local game place by my enthusiasm playing Whac-a-mole. Me armed with a pair of mallets is a fearsome thing, it seems.

I'll have to listen to some of the migrants here if I can get them to talk about the game and see how they say it. Personally, I say the "whac" part in a much different way than the "guac" part of guacamole.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Sun May 27, 2007  at  12:22 AM
OK, I've been trying (and not succeeding) to learn Spanish for damn near fifty years. If I remember right, the initial "g" in guacamole is pronounced something like "wh" in English, and all other letters are pronounced. Thus Tucson in Spanish is "Took-son" and in English is "Two-son" for example. But other than the pronounciation, I can see no connection between moles and avicadoes. (Is that how avicadoes is spelled?)
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Sun May 27, 2007  at  04:54 PM
I'm having trouble even thinking of a spanish word that starts with "w"...
Posted by Lina  on  Tue May 29, 2007  at  03:11 PM
Spanish words do not begin with w unless they are borrowed from other languages.
The sound at the beginning of guacamole should be 'gwa'. Spanish speakers simply say it so quickly that it often sounds as if there is no 'g' in the word. Softening the 'g' is something that people who learn Spanish must practice in order to minimize their accent.

I am going to use this story in my classroom. It is amusing.
Posted by Spanish Teacher  on  Tue May 29, 2007  at  10:27 PM
This is a great story, thanks. I think we are going to use that with some of our Spanish students.
Posted by Learn Spanish in Mexico  on  Sun Jul 13, 2008  at  07:00 AM
Yeep! They do say Guacamoe here in Spain where I tried to find the game for my son. When I said Whac-a-mole noone knew what I was looking for.
Posted by Europegirl  on  Mon Jan 12, 2009  at  02:39 PM
Well, I am french, and to me guacamole and whack-a-mole seem very similar. I would pronounce it with 3 syllabes for both:

But maybe it's because in french we don't pronounce the "e" at the end.

Anyway, I ended up here taping "whack-a-mole guacamole" in google search, so it may be a stupid question, but maybe lot of people are asking it ^_^

And Oh you answered it !! :-D
Posted by jenny gray  on  Sat Mar 07, 2009  at  05:30 AM
also in italian they're so similar
Posted by Looka  on  Wed Mar 18, 2009  at  11:57 PM
Hi, I'm from Spain and I was also intrigued about the coincidence of this two words, but after reading a little bit, I've arrived to the conclusion that this fonetic coincidence is only that, a coincidence, an extraodinary coincidence though...

The words guacamole and whack a mole are pronunced exactly the same way in spanish, but only if you don't take into account that whac a mole is a foreing word. Because in spanish, we usually read the words like they are written, so the word mole, is pronounced mole, and not moul(English.)
Posted by Adri  on  Tue Jun 09, 2009  at  01:01 PM
people say it both ways! tex-mex people say hwa-ka-mo-lay! yankees, guak-a-mo-lee!
Posted by garth  on  Thu Jun 18, 2009  at  06:00 PM
A great finding!
Posted by daniel  on  Mon Sep 28, 2009  at  10:18 AM
This is a great story that I will tell my clients and friends that are interestein in learning Spanish.
Posted by Dan Brown  on  Sun Nov 29, 2009  at  08:49 PM
Hi there i'm from Mexico and like some people say, it is just an extraordinary coincidence, because the word guacamole is derivation of two words of an ancient dialect, nahautl, that was spoken in M
Posted by Guillermo  on  Mon Jul 26, 2010  at  11:00 AM
Does anyone know of a similar game that has 10-20 pop spots on a board and every time one object poped up and hit, another pops up in another location??
Electronic or old fashion wood & cardboard.
Posted by OpenMindEugene  on  Sun Jul 08, 2012  at  12:48 PM
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