How to Play Mumbley Peg

“Mumbley Peg is a game of survival where you have to survive as long as possible. Find food, water and shelter while fighting off the monsters that come after you.”

The “mumblety-peg definition” is a game that has been around for years. The game is played with two people on opposite sides of the board, and each player tries to get their pegs into the other’s hole without getting hit by their opponent.

Vintage men playing mumblety-peg pocket knife game.

A pocketknife should be carried by every guy. It’s great for severing rope, cutting open parcels, and, of course, eating an apple like a badass.

However, it may also be a source of on-the-go amusement. Because that’s all you’ll need to play mumbley peg.

Have you never heard of the game before? Don’t be concerned. Today, we’ll show you how to play this knife-throwing sport that was formerly popular among 19th-century schoolboys, Wild West cowboys, and WWII troops. To play mumbley peg, all you need is a pal, a pair of pocket knives, and a little talent. It’s the ideal way to spend the time when hanging out with friends outdoors, resting by a campfire, or connecting with your kid.

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Mumbley Peg’s Background

Vintage men playing mumblety-peg pocket knife game.

Mumbley peg (also known as mumblety-peg, mumblepeg, mumble-the-peg, mumbledepeg, or mumble-de-peg) has existed for as long as there have been jackknives in the pockets of boys and men with time to kill. The game’s name comes from a stick hammered into the ground by the game’s winner, which the loser must take out with his teeth. Mumbley peg was a very popular playground pastime among boys in the nineteenth century. It was right up there with marbles and jacks in terms of popularity. In fact, “mumbletypeg” is mentioned in Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, Detective as a popular game among the students at old Tom’s school.

The game’s popularity lasted far into the first part of the twentieth century. There’s a good possibility you played a variant of mumbley peg as a kid while you were in Boy Scouts or at summer camp.

Vintage men sitting and playing mumblety-peg pocket knife.

Boys weren’t the only ones who liked Mumbley Peg. Men took part in the game as well. After a night of calf wrestling, cowboys would frequently gather around the campfire and play a few games of mumbley peg. In both World Wars, soldiers spent the time by tossing their knives in the ground.

Beginning in the 1970s, the game’s popularity began to dwindle as overly cautious adults outlawed it at summer camps and male pocket knife-carrying became less common.

Mumbley Peg: How to Play

Mumbley Peg comes in a variety of forms. In one variation, two opponents face each other with their feet shoulder-width apart. The first player grabs his pocket knife and tosses it towards the ground, trying to get it as near to his own foot as possible. The second player then does the same with his knife. The player who gets his knife as near to his own foot as possible wins. If a player purposefully sticks his knife into his own foot, he will automatically win. What can we say, this was before the Xbox 360 was released. Something to occupy the children was required.

American Boy’s Book of Sport Edition, Mumbley Peg

The American Boy’s Book of Sport, published in 1896, has a considerably more difficult and, I believe, more enjoyable (i.e., less likely to result in a tetanus injection) version of Mumbley Peg. The goal is to get the knife to stick in the ground rather than getting it to stick as near to your foot as possible. This version is challenging because it includes increasingly harder trick throws. The first guy to complete all of the trick throws wins and gets to drive the mumbley peg into the ground with his pocket knife handle. The loser must use his teeth to remove the mumbley peg out of the earth. Naturally, while muttering insults at the winner.


There are 24 distinct trick throws in the American Boy’s Book of Sport that must be executed perfectly to win. The throws are done by the players in turn. A player who successfully completes one throw may go to the next. As a result, one player may cruise through all of the throws while the other remains stuck on the first. Have you gotten the gist? Now it’s time for the throws!

1. Place the knife blade on top of your closed fingers in your right fist, with the back of your hand to the ground and the blade of the knife pointed to the right. As follows:

How to play mumblety-peg game grip diagram illustration.

The knife is swung to the right, up and over in a semicircle, with the hand swung to the right, up and over in a semicircle, so that it falls point downward and sticks, or should stick, upright in the ground. As an example:

Front view of holding peg game toss diagram illustration.

2. Toss in the same way as the first, but with the left hand.

3. Place the blade’s tip between the first and second fingers of your right hand and jerk it around in the air, striking the point into the ground.

Mumblety-peg game throw diagram illustration.

Throw #3

4. Do the same as #3, but with the left hand.

5. Hold the knife in the third and fourth positions, then cross your arms over your chest so the knife-handle reaches your left ear. With the left hand, grasp the right ear as follows:

Mumblety-peg game holding knife diagram.

Throw #5: How to Hold the Knife

Flip the knife once or twice in the air before striking the dirt with its tip.

6. The same as #5, but with the left hand. With your right hand, grab the left ear.

7. Keeping the knife in the same hand, pull the handle up to your nose and flip it over in the air, ensuring that it stays in the ground.

Mumblety-peg game nose throw diagram.

Throw #7

8. Do the same as #7, but before turning the handle, bring it up to the right eye.

9. Do the same as #7, but before turning the handle, bring it up to the left eye.

10. Place the blade’s tip on top of the head. With the forefinger, hold it in position and press it down towards the soil, where it must adhere with the blade’s tip in the earth.

Mumblety-peg holding a knife on a head.

Throw #10

11-15. Raise your left hand, fingers pointing skyward. Place the knife’s point on the tip of your thumb. With your right forefinger on the handle, secure the knife as follows:

Mumblety-peg game knife on a thumb.

Throw the knife rotating through the air with your right forefinger in a downward motion such that the knife tip falls in the grass. Replace the left index finger, middle finger, ring finger, and pinky with the left index finger, middle finger, ring finger, and pinky.

16-20. Reverse your hands and do the same as you did in throws 11-15.

21. Take a seat with your knees raised. With your right forefinger, lay the knife tip on your right knee and keep it in place. Throw the knife rotating through the air with your right forefinger in a downward motion such that the knife tip falls in the grass.


22. Do the same thing with the left knee and forefinger.

23. Hold the blade’s tip between your first and second fingers and, with your hand near your forehead, toss the knife back over your head so that it lodges in the ground behind you. As follows:

Mumblety-peg peg game back throw diagram.

Toss number 23 is a behind-the-back throw.

You’re basically executing a behind-the-back throw. It’s quite difficult.

“Plowing the ground,” says number 24. Leave the knife stuck in the ground after the 23rd throw. Then, using the palm of your hand, hit the knife handle with a clever blow that causes it to revolve for a yard or so over the ground and stick in the ground where it stops.

Mumblety-peg game ploughing the field field with knife.

Ploughing the field

Mumbley peg bragging rights go to the winner. The loser is given a stick to gnaw on.

Did you ever play mumbley peg as a kid? Is it still possible to play? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section.



“Mumbly Peg” is a song by the band The Shins. It was released in 2003, and has become an iconic song for the band. Reference: mumbly peg song lyrics.

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