Why the Ouija board became so famous

Why the Ouija board became so famous

This is where Ouija boards came from. And it might surprise you.

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In this episode of Overrated, Vox’s Phil Edwards explores what Ouija means, from a historical and cultural perspective.

The Ouija game and Ouija movies permeate our culture. But their origin might be surprising. Before this board game was a staple, it emerged from the spiritualist movement in the United States in the mid-1800s and an aggressive entrepreneur who believed he could make a buck off of it.

Ouija’s overrated — it’s not real and it’s just a piece of cardboard. But it’s also a way for people from the past to speak to us (through history, at least).

Overrated is a series that takes a look at the things we all know — the books, the trends, and the ideas that have become iconic — and answers the question: “Why is this so famous”?

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89 Responses

  1. Mr. Doob says:

    I bought a Ouija board recently from a strange old man…
    I got it home, laid out the pieces and before I could even ask it a question the planchette started to move around, it eventually spelt


    ‘What is your message?’ I asked.


    Fear started flushing over me, ‘Why should I be dancing?’


    I started to become more confused then frightened now, I needed to get to the bottom of this. ‘You’re talking gibberish’ I shouted!


    ‘God damn it!’ I shouted. That old bastard sold me a Bee Gee board!

  2. Fingernail Clipper says:

    I never get “board” of vox’s videos! 🙂

  3. Reymund Alagos says:

    Ouija board vs Soulja boy

  4. CurtisTRY says:

    Ouija Boards are for babies. Weegee boards are for the real men.

  5. SyncOut 226 says:

    Patents, marketing and taxes. The scariest ghost? Capitalism

  6. Okay WhyNot says:

    “Ouija” was Egyptian-sounding

    Me, an Egyptian: literally WHAT 😐

  7. Gale P says:

    a luigi board?

  8. jayay says:

    Vox should do a video on how they edit their videos

  9. Jackson Chambers says:

    I don’t mess with Ouija Boards. I have a friend who has a cousin who knew a lady that worked at the factory in China which produced the boards for Hasbro. Well, the factory screwed up and used the spiritual plastic for the planchette in the Battleship board games. They KNEW they made a mistake but shipped the games to Toys R Us and Walmart anyway. People who bought those copies of Battleship were accidentally summoning and sinking spirits of the dead.

  10. Sebastian Elytron says:

    Fake news!! Liberal propaganda!! Dislike!!

    Oh wait this is not a political video, sorry. I love Vox! You guys are awesome!

  11. Chernobyl says:

    I read somewhere that Ouija is a combination of the French and German words for yes, Oui and Ja, so I pronounce it Weeya

  12. 如月.飛羽 says:

    The spirit world went corporate. Classic USA.

  13. US says:

    90s kids: Bought board game cause they’re bored
    Kids today: Just download an app.

  14. TruelyJohn64 says:

    Ouija boards are typically associated with paranormal things.
    You know who else is associated with paranormal things?
    Luigi 🤔🤔🤔🤔

  15. jaiizwaii89 says:

    Still regardless would never touch one.

  16. Jeffrey LaCohn says:

    When I was a kid I was told that once you had a Ouija board, you could never get rid of it, unless you burned it. I threw mine away, and never saw it again.

  17. Jonathan Haas says:


    “Oui” = “yes”
    “Ja” = “yes”

    That’s what I’ve always been told is the etymology.

  18. Anthony Cleary says:

    So happy overrated is FINALLY back

  19. azdgariarada says:

    Can you burn Luigi boards?

  20. PunkExMachina says:

    funny thing back then there was a fascination with Egypt following Napoleons’s campaign in the 1800s there and as a result some weird stuff got associated with Egypt. Like the Slab Seriff font, the font that nowadays we’re used to see associated with Western movies and cowboys and other American type posters was known as the EGYPTIAN typeface.

    It’s hard to understand the jumP to make such associations nowadays but it was a weird result of pop culture back then. It doesn’t make sense to us but for them, Ouija, in their ignorance sounded perfectly magical and foreign and as such egyptian.

    Makes us wonder what unrelated things today we associate with certain cultures or other topics.

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