Dylan’s Piece of the Puzzle: Wordle


Photo illustration by Dylan Cohen

An example of the progression of a Wordle game. A green letter on the keyboard indicates a letter in the correct spot, and dark grey indicates a letter that is not in the word. Yellow indicates a letter present but in the wrong spot.

If you have been on social media, the internet or have communicated with anyone recently, you have probably heard of the latest online craze: Wordle.

As a lover of all things puzzles, games and words, Wordle is a dream come true. It is a once-daily word game with the objective of guessing a secret five-letter word within six guesses. With each guess, the program will tell you information about your letters. If a letter is in the correct spot, it will be displayed in a green square. If a letter is in the incorrect spot but is in the word, it will be displayed in a yellow square. If a letter is not in the word at all, it will be displayed in a gray square.

Wordle was created by Josh Wardle, a software engineer from Brooklyn, N.Y.. Originally created to share his love of words with family, it was released to the world in mid-October on a U.K. based website. Within two months, it had 300,000 daily users. Wordle has recently gained controversy for its similarities to the once-popular game show, Lingo, but it has still remained an internet favorite.

Strategy for figuring out the word of the day will differ from person to person. Famous game and linguistic experts such as Will Shortz will recommend starting with the same statistically-favorable word such as AMUSE, IRATE, SOARE, ADIEU or AUDIO everyday, but others such as myself will not follow that strategy. I think that it is fun to switch up my starting word everyday and see the results. Starting words that I have used include AUDIO, LIARS, PRIME, PROUD, IOTAS, TRAIN and SMEAR.

I do not pick my starting word completely at random, but instead I think of words with at least two vowels, no repeating letters and common consonants. Once I enter my first word, I try to carry all given information onto the following words. However, if I am completely stumped, I will use a word with all new letters to eliminate or confirm other letters. It is never a bad thing for all of the letters in a guess to be gray, since the elimination of letters will always bring you closer to an answer.

Wordle has gained a large presence on and off social media. On almost all social media platforms, you can find posts with five columns of green, yellow and gray boxes, indicating a person’s Wordle process. Personally, I can’t help but discuss the Wordle with anyone I interact with on a daily basis, whether that be friends, family, classmates or teachers.

Today, there are several variations of Wordle, with different themes and objectives. These include Wordle Unlimited, La Palabra, Taylordle, Absurdle and more, with new alternatives being released every day. My personal favorite alternative is Nerdle, which simply put is Wordle with math; as a math enthusiast, this is especially exciting to me.  With the New York Times recent seven-figure purchase of Wordle with the possibility of a pay wall, the search for an alternative has become an increasing concern.