An addictive word game

What is Wordle?

Games are always a good way for us to exercise our brains and have fun at the same time. A word guessing game that’s taken the internet by storm has given both native and non-native English speakers something to look forward to everyday! 

Wordle, a free word game, was created by software engineer Josh Wardle as a gift to his partner, who loves word games. The game spread by word of mouth, starting with friends and family, and soon became viral. The number of users skyrocketed from 90 in November of last year, to two million mid-January. It got so popular that the New York Times acquired it. 

So, how do you play Wordle? 

The rules are simple, you get six chances to try and find the Wordle of the day, which is made up of five letters. After each try the colors of the boxes change, giving you some hints. A green box means it’s the right letter and it’s in the right spot, yellow means the letter is in the word but in the wrong spot, and gray means the letter is not in the word at all.

The game has attracted a wide range of audiences from word game fanatics, to software engineers, mathematicians and linguists. So, what’s the secret behind this game’s smashing success? The creator explains that the availability of just one puzzle per day lures players into coming back for more, as there’s no chance they could binge the game, and hence get tired of it. In addition, since everyone is guessing the same word and sharing their results, it’s a fun way to engage with friends and family.

How can you win Wordle? 

This is a question experts from different fields have been trying to answer. One programmer wrote an algorithm that would help players play the game as optimally as possible, while some researchers tried to determine the best word to start with from a linguistic point of view. 

I’ve taken up the mission of answering this question myself. My strategy revolves around succeeding at finding the word, rather than finding it with the fewest possible guesses. I start with words that cover all the vowels in the first two boxes such as: audio, weary, and adieu. Then, I try to include as many consonants in the next word or two as possible, some examples include: space, worth, and fresh. And so far, it has led to a 100% winning streak, on the third, fourth, fifth and sometimes sixth try. 

The first time I played the game, on 9 March, I started with the word today (T yellow, O green), then pulse (all gray), followed by minds (M and N green). At this point I started thinking, what’s a five letter word that starts with mon and has a t in it? Oh month, that’s the word. Success!

Wordle is a fun way for English learners to test their vocabulary, and perhaps expand it too. I definitely recommend playing it!

You can play it on The New York Times game section.

take (a place) by storm—to quickly become very popular throughout (a place)

word of mouth—orally communicated

skyrocket—to rise or increase abruptly and rapidly