Pop Culture dictionary

ding dong ditch

or ding dong ditched [ding dong dich]

What does ding dong ditch mean?

Ever hear a knock at the door and no one’s there? You’re either in a horror movie … or you’ve been ding dong ditched.

Ding dong ditch is a children’s prank involving ringing someone’s doorbell and running away before they answer.  

Related words

prank call, Guava Juice, In My Feelings Challenge, mannequin challenge, got em, French military victories, rickrolling, that escalated quickly, gtfo

Where does ding dong ditch come from?

The classic practical joke of ding dong ditch is known by many names around the word: knock knock ginger in England, chicky melly in Scotland, knick knack in Ireland, and even nicky nicky nine doors in Canada.

Whatever the name, the game is the same. Step 1: the prankster runs up to a door. Step 2: the prankster knocks on the door or rings a doorbell. Step 3: the prankster flees, much to their laughter and to the resident’s confusion or chagrin


Ding dong ditch is believed to have been started by English schoolchildren in the 19th century as a form of entertainment. Ding dong is for the sound of the doorbell and ditch, the act of running away. The specific phrase ding dong ditch is recorded by 1980.

Kids often do the deed with little malice other than to get the best of grownups. Sometimes perpetrators may mess with someone in a position of authority they don’t like, such as a teacher or grumpy neighbor.

With the rise of YouTube and other video-sharing sites, pranksters have upped the ding dong ditch game. Channels like Ireland Boys and JOOGSQUAD PPJT have made videos of ding dong ditching while wearing spandex costumes or ding dong ditching then urinating on their victim’s lawns. A collaboration video from those channels in 2018 showed the YouTubers ding dong ditching while wearing ghillie suits; it earned over 10-million views.

Though ding dong ditch is usually harmless enough, there have been dire consequences. In Kentucky in 2011, a group of preteens were shot at while doing the prank, sending one to the hospital, fortunately with non-life-threatening injuries.  

Examples of ding dong ditch

now my sisters friends ding dong ditch my room wtf leave

@Justin_Libbey, May, 2014
'He’s a psycho’: Man beats kids after ‘ding-dong ditch’ prank
Jackie Salo, New York Post (headline), May, 2018

Who uses ding dong ditch?

Ding dong ditch is typically thought of as a game for children, but adults may often joke about joining in on the fun whether to live on the wild side or as a nostalgic reference.

Others will complain about the ding dong ditchers. “Heya kids, get off my lawn!” 👴🏻👴🏻👴🏻

Ding dong ditch is sometimes used as slang for “disappear.” Similar to ghosting or GTFO, you can ding dong ditch a date, job, doctor’s appointment, class, and more.

Some people share links to ding dong ditch videos or post memes and GIFs of the prank for comedic value.

As a children’s game around the world, ding dong ditch goes by many other names, leading to some discussion of what other people regionally call the practice.

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This is not meant to be a formal definition of ding dong ditch like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of ding dong ditch that will help our users expand their word mastery.