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What is Wordle?
You never know when or from where the next Internet sensation is coming. But when it does arrive, we should all hope it is a healthy, brain-exercising activity like Wordle and not something that involves Tide pods or large amounts of ground cinnamon. Wordle has not been around that long, only since last year, but it has become so popular that it was bought by The New York Times at the beginning of 2022. The word game’s appeal is easy to see: It’s not complicated, it doesn’t take long to play, it doesn’t cost any money (so far), and there are so many five-letter words in the list of possible solutions that you can play every day without running into repeats for years. Let’s go over the basics of Wordle, then review some tips for doing your best right out of the gate.
Wordle is a very popular daily word game that challenges you to deduce a five-letter word in six tries. It is owned by The New York Times and is available on their website and on their Crossword app.
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What is Wordle?
Wordle is an online word game. It has become very popular in a short time and has millions of regular players. A new Wordle round is released each day. The game presents itself as six rows of five blank squares. You have six tries to correctly name the five-letter word of the day. Each time you fill in a word, the game will indicate how close you came, allowing you to refine your guesses. The game keeps track of your scores over time and provides you with stats on your performance.
Where can you play Wordle?
When Wordle begain in 2021, it was played on its own website. In January of this year, The New York Times purchased Wordle, and for a while it appeared on the newspaper’s games site as well as on its original page. In June, it was announced that the original website would shut down. Then in August, The Times absorbed Wordle into its Crossword app. Currently, you can play Wordle in the Crossword app or on its NYT page.
How to play
When you begin the game, there are no hints about where to start except that the goal is a five-letter English word. (There is, in fact, an ongoing debate about what the ideal word to begin Wordle with is.) You start by entering a five-letter word on your keyboard and pressing Enter. Each of the five letters will turn a color: green, yellow, or gray. Green means the letter is correct. Yellow means the letter is in the word, but not in the position it is currently in. Gray means the letter is not in the word at all.
The game’s objective is to get to the correct word in as few tries as possible. (Scoring a three, or guessing the word on your third try, is considered doing very well.) You do this at first by using words that include the more common letters to gain as much information as you can. You might even use a completely different word on your second guess, even if you got a letter or two right on your first try. This is to put in as many of the most common letters as possible, to see which ones you can eliminate.
Then you finish by using the color-based feedback the game provides to home in on the right word using the process of elimination. If a letter turns gray, do not use that letter again in subsequent guesses. If it turns yellow, make sure you include it in future guesses but in a different position. And if it turns green, make sure all future guesses have that letter in the same position. When you guess the word correctly, your stats will come up showing you your score and how it compares to all the other times you have played Wordle.
Tips and tricks: how to play Wordle like a pro
People have been studying games for many years. Not long after Wordle became popular, theories began popping up about the best ways to win the game in as few tries as possible. Since Wordle is a word-based puzzle, strategies that help with other word games are often of use. Here is a collection of some of the best advice we have read about winning at Wordle:
- Your first two guesses are for gaining information. Unless you hit a lucky guess, that information will be more about which letters to eliminate than which ones to include. Consider using a word that cannot be correct for your second guess, even if you got a letter or two correct, if it includes five letters that are not in your first guess. This will maximize the range of letters you investigate, increasing the chance of a correct letter and eliminating the largest possible number of words.
- Start with a helpful word. Words that will give you a lot of information will include five distinct letters (avoid double letters on your first guess) and more than one vowel. Starting words successful Wordle players use include SALET, ADIEU, ALONE, CRANE, and ARISE. (I tried SALET as a first guess and got the word in three tries. That was only my second Wordle game.)
- Do not start by guessing a word that ends with S. Even though it is one of the 10 most common letters in English, Wordle ends with an S less than 2% of the time.
- Use the most common letters (A, E, I, O and C, N, L, R, S, T) at first. This both gives you a good chance of getting some letters right, and eliminates a large number of words if you don’t.
- Don’t rush. There is only one Wordle a day, and no rule against giving yourself time to think.
- Double letters happen. And they are not always next to each other. Even though you shouldn’t start with a double-letter word, keep in mind that they do come up. Just because you got a green letter doesn’t mean that letter does not occur again in that word.
Software engineer Josh Wardle created and developed Wordle in 2021.
Those are copycat apps. Only the New York Times Wordle app is the real one. There was never a standalone Wordle app. The proliferation of copycats of Wordle is one reason Mr. Wardle decided to sell the game to the Times.
The news organization’s official position is that they will “keep Wordle free for now.” But considering that they have absorbed Wordle into their Crossword app, which is a paid app, and that they used the ominous phrase “for now,” well, the future is wide open.