If you’ve seen screenshots of gray, yellow and green tiles making their way around social media, then you’ve gotten glimpses of the viral word game Wordle. Here’s how to play and figure out your own Wordle strategy.
I first heard about Wordle from my husband. But that’s nothing new. I usually hear about anything noteworthy from my husband because he reads the news online.
He explained to me the concept of a trending online word game called Wordle. And knowing that I love to play Scrabble and with an affinity for words in general, he beckoned me to try this new word game.
Once I tried it that first time, I was hooked. Thankfully, you can only play Wordle once a day—or I could see myself going down a rabbit hole. And creator Josh Wardle (notice the word play on his last name) has vowed that he doesn’t collect your data and will never run ads on the site, which makes him all the more likeable and gives me a green light for continuing my daily playing habit.
Wordle first made headlines near the end of 2020 and has since exploded for word game lovers as well as those who simply enjoy friendly competition. With 2+ million players worldwide and counting, Wordle capitalizes on the simplest of ideas that will inevitably throw you in complete tizzy some days (because in your mind, it should be so easy).
What is Wordle?
Wordle is a 5-letter word game that’s a cross between Mastermind, Wheel of Fortune and Hangman. Every day, the website generates a new word of the day. And if you’re like us, every day you’re suckered into a friendly competition to see who can guess the word in the least amount of tries.
Though you play Wordle alone, you’d better believe that everyday is a competition between you and whomever else you know who plays the game.
The beauty of Wordle is that there is simply one word puzzle a day. Nothing more—or else plenty of adults would find it far too addicting as a time-suck.
What are the rules of Wordle?
The allure of Wordle lies in its simplicity. Besides only solving one word problem a day, the rest of rules are basic and easy to grasp as well.
- You have six chances to guess the 5-letter word of the day.
- Each guess must be a real word.
- After each guess, the app will let you know the accuracy of each letter in your word.
- Gray means the letter is not in the word at all.
- Yellow means the letter is in the word, but not in the right spot.
- Green means the letter is in the correct spot.
In essence, you hone your guess each time using your own strategy and matters of deduction until you guess the correct word. If you don’t get the word in 6 guesses, the correct word will appear on your screen—so at least it doesn’t leave you hanging.
What Kinds of Words Does Wordle Use?
Josh Wardle, creator of Wordle, removed any obscure 5-letter words from the game database, but that doesn’t necessarily means the daily words are ones that you would use frequently yourself.
If you’re looking for some examples of Wordle words, here’s a a list of recent words to give you an idea: TANGY, ABBEY, FAVOR, DRINK, QUERY, GORGE, CRANK, SLUMP, BANAL, TIGER, SIEGE and TRUSS.
Also, keep in mind that Wordle uses American spellings for words, so if you’re British you’ll have to revert to American English.
When it comes to a preferred Wordle strategy, this is where my husband and I differ. But that’s nothing new. We differ in game strategies when it comes to plenty of similar games such as Scrabble, Mastermind, Hangman and Boggle (some of my favorite games).
The Importance of Your First Word
We’ve heard rumors of people guessing the Word of the Day on the first try, but that’s out of our league. Some people start with the same five letter word every day. For us, we like to mix it up with whatever pops in our heads.
One tried-and-true Wordle strategy that many Wordlers swear by is using a multi-vowel word as your first guess. We try to guess initial words that include 2-3 vowels so we can at least get some kind of yellow or green tiles on the first guess.
Plenty of times, we’ve had all grays on our first guess. And though this seems like it would make the situation daunting, the good news is that 5 gray tiles means you can rule out those letters, which oftentimes, has worked in our favor concerning matters of deduction.
Examples of first words we use include GREAT, STARE, STONE, STORE, SWEAT, PLANE, PEACH, TIRES, etc.
Sometimes these guesses work in our favor, and sometimes not. If, for example, the Wordle of the Day before started with a G, then I won’t use a G in my first guess the next day simply because I’m hoping the system changed up the word enough that it doesn’t start with the same letter.
Eliminate High-Frequency Letters
Another common Wordle strategy is to remove the possibility of common letters. You can start this process by choosing a first word with high-frequency letters such as R, S, T, L, N, E (throwback to Wheel of Fortune, anyone?).
For my own strategy, I typically eliminate high-frequency letters and nail down the vowels as fast as possible. But if I have any yellow or green tiles, I always make sure to incorporate that knowledge into my next guess.
My husband, on the other hand, goes about his guessing in a different matter. Even if he receives a couple yellows on one guess, sometimes, he will choose to ignore those yellow letters on his next guess so that he has 5 more possibilities of figuring out the remaining letters. This does seem to narrow down his letter options quite quickly and he mostly guesses words in 3, 4 or 5 tries.
Don’t Forget Duplicate Letters
The first time I played Wordle, I didn’t realize that letters could appear more than once. This simple rule adds quite the complexity to the guessing game. Just when you think you have a word narrowed down, you’ll find that the possibility of a duplicated letter throw a wrench in your Wordle strategy and send you back to the drawing board.
Take Your Time Vs. Go with First Instinct
When it comes to completing the Wordle of the day, my husband and I also differ on our approach. He is mentally methodical, taking up to 10 minutes to complete the word puzzle as he thinks through all possible scenarios of a word.
On the other hand, I am more of a speed player. As with other word games such as Scrabble and Boggle, I give myself into gut instinct and like to move quickly.
Sometimes, this plays in my favor as, I don’t overthink things and three-try guesses are my most common outcome. But there have also been times that I’ve moved so quickly that I’ve made simple mistakes, such as forgetting to use a letter that was already yellowed. So those too-quick moves cost me guessing tries unnecessarily.
Compare and Share
Once you’ve made Wordle a daily habit, you can start to compare with your spouse, family or friends you know who play. Wordle is a fun way to add some friendly competition to your marriage—we can attest to that!
The game also has an awesome sharing option that allows you to post your Wordle results without giving away the answer. You’ve probably seen screenshots of gray, yellow and green tiles posted on social media.
Have you played Wordle and, if so, what is your Wordle strategy?!