A catchphrase is a word or phrase that a villager repeats during conversation, which they usually say towards the end. Every villager has an intial catchphrase which they will ask the player to change, or by going to the Town Hall and reporting them (not in Animal Crossing: Wild World). Villagers may also adopt catchphrases from other villagers. For example, Elmer, who has the catchphrase "tenderfoot", may adopt another villager's catchphrase at random without the player being notified. Most catchphrases relate to a villager's personality type, species, name, or appearance. It is believed that many non-villagers, such as Blathers, have catchphrases though many usually use a number of different phrases and words, rather than the single catchphrase. Blathers and Celeste's catchphrases may be hoot, Tom Nook's catchphrase may be yes and Brewster's may be coo.
In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, catchphrases are used less obsessively than in previous games, and many of the new villagers have initial catchphrases that seem like nicknames instead of mindless repetition (not to be confused with actual nicknames).
In Animal Crossing
To change the catchphrase of a villager in Animal Crossing, a villager must ask the player to change it. The player will know when they are being asked when the villager is surprised to see them and follows the player until spoken to. This word cannot be a swear word and cannot have more than 10 characters.
In Wild World
The only way to change the catchphrase of a villager in Wild World is for them to ask the player for a new one. When a villager wants to talk to the player, 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 selecting the option that asks if it is "rude". The catchphrases it will be changed to include "yesiree" and "right."
In New Leaf
The methods are the same as in City Folk, except the player must consult Isabelle instead. When reported, the catchphrase will become "uh-huh".
Preventions against changing a catchphrase
A catchphrase can be changed to anything provided 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!"