A catchphrase is a word or short phrase that a villager often says during conversation, and is generally said towards the end of a sentence. Every villager has an initial catchphrase which they will ask the player to change, or by going to the Town Hall and reporting them (not in Animal Crossing or Wild World). Villagers may also adopt catchphrases from other villagers. For example, Elmer, who has the catchphrase "tenderfoot", may adopt Goldie's catchphrase, "woof", without the player being notified. In New Horizons, villagers can only adopt catchphrases set by players.
Some characters' default catchphrases vary between games in the series. Examples of animals who have had different initial catchphrases in different games include Lily, Ribbot, Amelia, Benedict, Violet, Fuchsia, and Kody.
Sometimes a villager may ask the player to change their catchphrase. If the player agrees to do so, a screen will come up where they can freely type in a new catchphrase.
Default catchphrases normally relate to a villager's personality type, species, name, hobby or appearance.
It is believed that many special characters, such as Blathers, have catchphrases, though many usually use a number of different phrases and words, rather than the single catchphrase.
In Animal Crossing
To change the catchphrase of a villager in the GameCube version, a villager must ask the player to change it. They can also begin to use another villager's catchphrase upon talking to them. If the player changes their catchphrase, it cannot be over ten letters or a swear word.
In Wild World
In Wild World, a villager must either adopt another villager's catchphrase or ask the player for a new one. When a villager wants to get a new one, they will look at them and show they want attention by an exclamation mark appearing briefly over their head, followed by the villager walking up to the player and/or following them. However, not all occasions where the villagers wants the player's attention may be because of their catchphrase.
In City Folk
Similar to Wild World, the player can change a villager's catchphrase by waiting for them to ask the player for their suggestion on a new catchphrase. However, the player can also go to the Town Hall and asking Pelly or Phyllis to change a villager's catchphrase by selection the option that asks if it is "rude." The catchphrases it will be changed to could be "yup yup", "yessiree", "you know", and "right".
In New Leaf
Same as in City Folk and Wild World, except to force a character's catchphrase to change the player must speak to Isabelle at the Town Hall and report the character's language as offensive. Sometimes two villagers are singing together, indicating that one has adopted the other's catchphrase.
In New Horizons
Villagers with friendship level 4 or up may occasionally prompt the player to come up with a new catchphrase for them. Villagers can also adopt player-created catchphrases from other villagers. Villager catchphrases will not transfer if they were adopted from another island, and switching the language of the game will reset all villager's catchphrases the language is changed back. A villager who would like the player to create a new catchphrase for them will walk slowly and have a thought balloon above their head; they can also do this under some other circumstances, such as when they want to sell items to the player.
There is no specific character limit to catchphrases, as it depends on the characters used. A catchphrase repeating the letter "i" can be up to 20 characters and a catchphrase repeating the letter "m" can only be up to 7 characters. Other combinations of letters have a limit somewhere in between.
Preventions Against Changing a Catchphrase
A catchphrase can be changed to anything, provided that it:
- Doesn't exceed the character limit. This will be alerted by an alert sound.
- Doesn't contain profane words. If entered, a speech bubble will pop up saying "You can't enter that!" However, the player is able to substitute letters in the word(s) with special characters that look nearly identical to those letters.