It’s the game taking the internet (and your social media timelines) by storm. But what is Wordle? And how do you play it? Let’s find out…
By Simon Ward, Content Editor
There has been something weird happening on social media recently (beyond the usual). Suddenly, every other post has turned into a collection of grey, green and yellow squares.
That’s because everyone has been playing Wordle, a new free Scrabble-like word game that has taken the world by storm. The New York Times and The Washington Post have written about it. It featured on Jimmy Fallon’s show. It’s the zeitgeist word-of-mouth hit of 2022. Like Squid Game, but a lot safer.
But what is it? Let us help you out…
What is Wordle
Wordle is a free daily word guessing game – you can find it here. Deceptively simple and accessible, but hard to master, it has a new five-letter word to guess each day. You then get just six chances to correctly identify it, with a new word dropping every 24 hours.
How long you play it depends on how good you are at guessing, but it is designed to be a short distraction rather than a game that takes up all your free time. And no matter how quickly you guess the word, you won’t get a new word until the following day.
Once you complete the word, it will give you the option to share your score on social media. You might have seen these dropping on your timelines by the bucketload...
How to play Wordle
Once you open the Wordle site, start with your first five-letter word. You can either type the word in or use the clickable keyboard under the board.
Each guess must be a valid five-letter word. Hit the enter button to submit. After each guess, the colour of the tiles of your word will change to show you how close you were to the correct answer.
If a letter turns green, it means that the letter is both in the word and in the correct spot. The keyboard under the board will also turn that letter green, so you know you need to use it on your next guess.
If your letter turns yellow, it is in the word but it’s in the wrong spot. This time, the keyboard under the board will turn that letter yellow, so you know you need to use it on your next guess but in a different spot.
If your letter turns grey, that means the letter doesn’t feature in the word. Here, the keyboard under the board will turn that letter grey, so you know that you should avoid it in your future guesswork. See the example below:
Your aim is turn all the letters green. Each guess must be a valid 5 letter word, and every now again, you’ll also come across some American English spelling, so watch out for those. Click here for more tips.
Why is Wordle so popular?
Created by software engineer Josh Wardle as a prototype in 2013, he built this latest version of the game for just himself and his partner. He told the BBC: “Last year, my partner and I got really into crosswords and word games and I wanted a game for us to play each morning as part of our routine.”
Since he released it to the public, more than 300,000 people have played it in three months – and it’s growing every day.
Part of its popularity comes through its simplicity. No adverts. No app version. It’s free. You don’t need to part with your data or register. One game a day. And it takes up very little of your time, and then you’re done.
It has also been a word-of-mouth social hit. You’re able to share your results onto your timelines, but the words you used and the final result are obscured, so as not to spoil it for everyone else. That too, the fact that everyone is playing the same single puzzle, gives rise to the conversation and buzz.
And in a world of polarity and confrontation, being able to chat about a word puzzle is something that has captured our hearts.
Get a good first word: You want to think carefully about the first word to maximise your chances, especially in terms of ticking off vowels and commonly used letters. Popular first word suggestions include: adieu, Ouija, stain, lanes, ratio, roast, about, resin, irate, notes, earth, sharp and orate.
According to Google’s director of research Peter Norvig, E, T, A, O and I are the most common letters in the English language, so that’s worth bearing in mind. Meanwhile, programmer Tyler Glaiel suggests the statistically best first word is Roate (it is a word!), while Cambridge maths professor Tim Gowers opts for tripe followed by coals to tick off commonly used letters where none are reproduced.
Beware of repeat letters: Yes, if you’re struggling, it might mean there are two of the same letters in your puzzle. These are tricky to spot, especially if you are new to the game, as even if you get one instance correct, the game doesn’t reveal if there is another space where it appears. The repeated letter could be twice in a row, such as “abbey” and “truss” or used non-consecutively in the word, like or “gorge” and “banal”. All of these words have appeared on Wordle in 2022, so this pattern is not uncommon.
Watch out for American English: Do us a favor, and you’ll do yourself a favour. American English is rife in Wordle (which was created by a Welsh man living in America), and the aforementioned “favor” was certainly a controversial one for us in Blighty when it dropped this month.
So just because you’ve been told there isn’t a ‘U’ in your word, there’s still a world of words available from our American cousins you may want to consider.
Have fun: This is the most important one. While you’ll no doubt get better at the game as you play, and you may even have the same first word in your back pocket each morning, it is meant to be a bit of quick silly fun. Even if your WhatsApp group is humble bragging about their fourth consecutive 2/6, it doesn’t matter.