What is Wordle? A look at the viral online word game, and how to beat it

Josh Wardle
·3 min read

Wordle, a popular five-letter word guessing game, has taken social media by storm over the last couple of months.

If you’ve been on Twitter recently, you’ve probably noticed that some (or most) of the people who you follow have been sharing their Wordle results in the form of green, yellow and black squares. The game has even captured the interest of “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon and “Succession” actress J. Smith-Cameron.

The game’s creation has also led to some pretty funny memes, too.

Where did Wordle come from?

According to a New York Times profile, the game was created by software engineer Josh Wardle in October as a gift for his partner, Palak Shah, who loves word games and crossword puzzles.

Although the game went from 90 users to more than 2 million in just two months, according to the New Yorker, Wardle has said he plans to keep the game free for all players.

Where to find Wordle

There’s no official app to download, but the game is available online at powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle. You can play using a mobile or desktop browser.

The website automatically saves your progress with each guess, so you can play for a few minutes, close the browser tab, and go back to the website later to finish the puzzle.

You have until midnight, when the word resets and a new one is there for you to guess.

How to play Wordle

The approach to Wordle is different for each player, but the rules of the game are simple: Try to guess a five-letter word in six tries.

The game tells you if the letters you picked are in the word, and if they’re in the right place. If the letter is in the right spot, it shows up green, and a correct letter in the wrong spot shows up yellow. A letter that isn’t in the word at all shows up gray.

Strategies for Wordle

Popular first guesses for Wordle are “adieu” and “ouija” since they include the maximum number of vowels found in a five-letter word.

The letter E appears most frequently in the English language, followed by A, R, I, O, T, N and S, according to an analysis from researchers at the University of Notre Dame. So starting words like “train,” “ratio” and “stare” could be good first guesses.

Some choose to start with a word mixed with common and uncommon letters like “graze,” “swing” and “gourd.”

Here are some other tips from Vulture writer Alejandra Gularte:

  • Choose words with digraphs: Words with digraphs like “sh-,” “ch-” and “st-” can help eliminate incorrect letters that can narrow down your word choice options. Letter combinations like these are usually found in the beginning or end of a word, so if “sh-” is highlighted in yellow, try it in a different part of the word.

  • A warning: Letters can be used twice. If you choose a word with repeating letters and only one letter is either green or yellow and the other is gray, it means the letter only appears once. But, if the second letter is yellow or green, then the letter appears twice in the answer.

  • Try Hard Mode: If you want to try “Hard” mode, click the “settings” button on the top-right corner. In this version of the game, once you reveal a letter in a green spot, you must use a word with that letter in the same spot for future guesses.

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