There's a game in which a flat stone is thrown to the surface of a pond, river, etc. so that it starts bouncing across the water. How do native English speakers call this game?

Are there any rules of this game? For example, in Russia, when as a kid I used to play it, it was forbidden to bend the body to the surface of the water when throwing.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – ColleenV
    Sep 23, 2016 at 18:28
  • Skipping stones across water is called 'Ducks and Drakes'. I'm pretty sure it was in some Enid Blyton stories 'Secret Seven' or 'Famous Four' and suchlike or maybe Richmal Crompton 'Just William' tales? Feb 21, 2018 at 18:06

2 Answers 2


Wikipedia calls it Stone skipping.

There is also a list of translations, for English it mentions:
1. "skipping stones" or "skipping rocks" (North America),
2. "stone skimming" or "ducks and drakes" (Britain)
3. "stone skiffing" (Ireland)

  • Thanks awfully for "ducks and drakes", I've just known a new interesting expression "to play ducks and drakes" (nonliteral).
    – Victor B.
    Sep 17, 2016 at 22:59
  • 2
    In Ireland we generally also call it 'stone skipping' or 'skipping stones'. Never even heard 'stone skiffing'.
    – smci
    Sep 17, 2016 at 23:59
  • As a minor footnote to this answer (I already UV'd) I've always known this as skipping pebbles, because they usually are pebbles and the one in the picture definitely is. A pebble being a type of stone, of course, this doesn't change much, but all the same, I hope it's worth a mention, as I've never heard stones and certainly not rocks, to me 'rock' conjures up an image of something much too big for this game to be possible. (I'm from London, by the way)
    – Au101
    Sep 18, 2016 at 23:11
  • 1
    I've never (U.S. and UK) heard it called "stone skipping." Only "skipping stones." Sep 19, 2016 at 9:02
  • As a native speaker of American English, I can also say I've never heard or used stone skipping or stone skimming. Sep 23, 2016 at 18:52

In English it is called Stone Skimming.

The World Stone Skimming Championship is held annually on the Scottish Easdale Island every year. It will be held next week (25th September 2016).

The official rules for the championship, as shown on their web site are:

  • Skimming stones must be no more than 3 inches in diameter and formed naturally of Easdale slate
  • To qualify, the stone must bounce no less than 3 times and stay within the designated lane as marked by the buoys
  • Skims are judged on the distance thrown rather than the number of bounces
  • Competitors hitting the back wall are entered into a 'Three Stone Toss-Off' which is judged by the cumulative distance of their three tie-break throws.
  • The judges' decision is final
  • 5
    I believe your answer is specific to British English or UK English. I'm an American who lived in Canada for 5 years and I've never heard it called anything but "skipping stones." See for example english.stackexchange.com/questions/144506/…
    – arp
    Sep 18, 2016 at 9:58
  • 1
    @arp or Scottish English? I (from London) have never heard the term 'skimming' used for this either. To me, skimming is something you do to milk :P Still, this surely qualifies as a very authoritative source, so some pretty serious skippers/skimmers clearly do use it!
    – Au101
    Sep 18, 2016 at 23:15
  • 1
    @Au101 This is not just a Scottish term; here in Wales we also call it "skimming".
    – daiscog
    Sep 19, 2016 at 10:27

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