Even if you don’t play Wordle, you’re probably aware of this daily word game. Perhaps friends have talked about it, or you’ve seen people on Twitter or Facebook share the distinctive grid of yellow and green squares representing today’s Wordle answer. Not since the Rubik’s Cube craze of the 1980s has there been such widespread excitement about a puzzle.
Wardle Created Wordle
Wordle is the work of software engineer Josh Wardle, who originally created the game for his partner and released it to the public in October 2021. It exploded in popularity and has become a daily obsession for many. In January 2022, about 300,000 people played Wordle, and Wardle sold Wordle to The New York Times. Now, it’s the planet’s favorite new word game with millions of daily players.
How is Wordle Played?
Wordle is a vocabulary puzzle in which players get six tries to guess a randomly selected five-letter word. You start with a 5-wide by 6-long grid of empty, white boxes. Each box can hold one letter, and you guess at that day’s Wordle answer by entering a five-letter word and pressing “Enter.” There are no clues given at the start, so any five-letter word will do as an initial guess.
Once you enter a guess, individual letters within the word you entered will appear in different colors. Each color has a meaning.
• Green: The letter entered is 100% correct— the right letter in the right space.
• Yellow: The entered letter is in the correct word, but you’ve placed it in the wrong space.
• Gray: The entered letter is not used in the answer.
You can enter a total of six words, meaning you can enter five burner words from which you can learn hints about the letters and their placements. Then you get one chance to put those hints to use and guess the Wordle word of the day. The goal is to guess the correct word in as few attempts as possible. If you don’t get the answer in six guesses, you lose.
Here’s a tip: The first word you enter in Wordle is arguably the most important. To maximize its value to you, choose a five-letter word with at least three vowels. This is because most people think about word structure using vowels as the skeleton. According to The New York Times’ WordleBot — a tool that looks over your completed Wordle and gives you feedback like a mentor — “adieu” is by far the most common starting word. Other examples include “orate,” “media,” “audio”, “raise,” and “radio.”
What’s Made Wordle So Popular?
There are many reasons why people are going bonkers for Wordle:
• It’s a superbly designed game. Wordle is quick and easy to play, and it rewards skill, luck, reasoning, and intuition. It doesn’t require a specialized vocabulary, so most people can get good results often and easily, and with great visual feedback.
• There’s only one puzzle per day. This creates a certain level of stakes. You only get one shot at the Wordle. If you mess up, you must wait until tomorrow for a new puzzle.
• Everyone is playing the same puzzle. This makes it easier to discuss Wordle with friends. You can commiserate over the difficulty of that day’s puzzle or brag a little about your success.
• It’s easy to share your results. Once you’ve successfully (or unsuccessfully) completed the puzzle for the day, you’re invited to share your Wordle journey on social media. When you do, the word and letters you chose are obscured. All that’s shown is your journey toward the word in a series of yellow, green, and gray boxes. So the puzzle itself isn’t spoiled for others who haven’t yet played.
If you’re ready to try Wordle, no app is needed. Simply go to nytimes.com/games/wordle and play for free!