Matt Bird writes all sorts of nonsense, but he dedicates a large chunk of his time to writing game walkthroughs.
Word puzzle games are a dime a dozen online, yet none of them managed to take the world by storm quite so thoroughly as Wordle. Initially created by Welsh software engineer Josh Wardle as a game for just himself and his partner, Wordle has since become a social media phenomenon, and millions of players worldwide compete daily to see who can puzzle out the solution in the least number of guesses.
Despite its simplicity, Wordle is not an easy game, and you may find yourself hard-pressed to guess the answer with only six tries. There are plenty of strategies you can implement for reaching the finish line, fortunately, and this guide will help you get started on the basics. (And without cheating.)
Before we get started on hints and tips for Wordle we should go over the rules. As far as puzzles go Wordle's objective is pretty simple: You need to guess a five-letter word, and you have six opportunities to do it. Each time you enter a word it will appear on the screen as such:
Words are displayed in descending order. In this case, 'Angle' was guessed first and 'Nodal' was guessed second. This seems like a pointless distinction, but in Wordle it's quite important, as each guess contains hints to the final answer.
Look at the image again. You'll notice that the 'a', 'n', and 'l' in 'Angle' appear in yellow. The 'n', 'a', and 'l' in 'Nodal', by contrast, appear in green. These are vital hints to the final answer. If a letter appears in yellow it means that the letter is in the answer, but it does not appear in that spot in the word. If a letter is in green, however, it means that the letter appears in the final word, in that exact spot. In this case, all three letters were in the wrong spots in 'Angle', but were placed properly in 'Nodal'.
That's all well and good. What about the grey letters? Simple enough: These are letters that do not appear in the puzzle's answer at all. Grey letters are not as important to the solution as colored letters, but they're still useful in narrowing down an answer.
And that's Wordle. You guess words until you get to a solution, using colored letters to narrow down which letters are in the word and which ones aren't. Seems simple enough - but you'll still need a broad knowledge of five-letter words, as well as a few clever strategies, to get the final word. We'll move on to some strategies next.
Strategy 1 - Choose Your First Word Carefully
When you first begin a Wordle puzzle the sky is the limit. You have no clues to go by, and any word accepted by Wordle could, potentially, be correct. That said, you shouldn't just enter words willy-nilly and hope that they're the solution to the puzzle, as your chances of getting the correct word in one go are very, very small. What you need to do is maximize your chances of getting hints with your first word.
To make the most out of your first word you should choose something that features a number of common letters. Take this guess as an example:
'Crate' is a relatively simple word with four commonly-used letters. Let's look at the advantages of 'crate':
- It contains the two most common vowels, 'a' and 'e'
- The 'a' and the 'e' are in spots shared by many other words - abate, plane, shame, frame, agape, glade, irate, slave, etc.
- It contains two common consonants, 't' and 'r'
- The 'e' and the 'r' pair well together in a multitude of words - water, paper, after, boxer, leper, meter, etc.
In this case we managed to narrow down the 'a' as part of the solution. We also discovered that 'r', 't', and most importantly 'e' are not part of the solution, which narrows the puzzle down significantly.
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One strategy you can employ is always using the same word to start a Wordle puzzle. As long as the word has a strategic use of common vowels and consonants you'll almost always get at least one hint out of your first word. (And, hey, there's always a chance that you'll get the Wordle right in one go if you keep using the same word over and over.)
Strategy 2 - Figure out the Vowels First
Words tend to be structured around their vowels, and you can get through a lot of Wordle puzzles by focusing on the vowels - 'a', 'e', 'i', 'o', 'u', 'y' - first and foremost. You probably don't need to eliminate all of the vowels - 'u' and 'y' are not that common - but trying to get 'a', 'e', 'i', and 'o' out of the way in the first two or three guesses will give you a better idea of where you're headed. For example:
'Soapy' builds on 'a' as the middle letter and establishes that the word begins with an 's', while eliminating 'o' and 'y' as possible vowels. This particular word configuration also suggests that 'a' may be the only vowel, which is exactly what happened:
Strategy 3 - Use Placeholders
It can sometimes be difficult to puzzle out a Wordle solution just doing it in your head. If you're the kind of visual player who needs something to look at, you may benefit from typing out a potential answer, using placeholder letters to fill the gaps, like so:
In this case we know that 's' and 'o' are correct, and that 't' and 'n' are in the word, but in different spots. We can then type in the word and switch the letters around a bit, using an 'x' as a placeholder letter. Being able to look at the partially-completed word like this will often give your brain the kick it needs to find an answer, which, in this particular puzzle, was 'snout'.
(If you use this strategy, be sure that your placeholder letters do not spell a real word. Rarely-used consonants like 'x' and 'q' make for good placeholders, as the chances of you accidentally submitting a word containing multiple 'x's are pretty low.)
Strategy 4 - Pay Attention to the Keyboard
Whenever you enter a letter in Wordle, correct or not, it will be highlighted on the keyboard at the bottom of the screen. Just as in the word itself, these highlighted letters let you know which letters may or may not be in the solution. If the letter is green, you've found the right spot for it in the word; if the letter is yellow, you've discovered that it's somewhere in the word; and if the letter is grey, it's not in the word.
Why is the keyboard important when you can see all of these letters in the main puzzle? It's primarily an organizational benefit. Losing track of which letters have been eliminated is pretty easy if you only look at the words you've entered. If you look at the keyboard, however, you'll see which letters you absolutely shouldn't use a second time, and won't hit that key again. You're well served only using the virtual keyboard attached to the game, and not using your device's keyboard at all.
Strategy 5 - Try Everything
It's not uncommon for Wordle players to figure out three or four letters of a word and get stuck. What could those last few letters possibly be? If this is the case, there's nothing wrong with filling the blanks with letters that look like they could fit, then submitting your word and seeing what happens. If it's not a legitimate word then you won't waste your turn, and can delete your letters and try something else. If it is a legitimate word then you may just solve the puzzle - or, at the very least, eliminate a few possibilities.
Wordle Quick Tips
Still need some more suggestions to boost your Wordle game? Here are a few minor tips that might help you get to the final answer:
- Wordle solutions are almost never pluralized. It's not worth it to put an 's' on the end of your word unless you're guessing something like 'glass' or 'floss'.
- Letters can appear twice in the same word. Don't forget this fact if you're stuck and are trying out all of the letters to see which ones fit.
- Wordle words are handpicked. The likelihood that a word will ever be reused is very small. Don't bother with old Wordle solutions unless you think they will provide important hints to the actual answer.
- Don't be afraid to enter words you know are wrong if you're stumped. Occasionally you'll pick up on proper letter placement that can lead you to the actual answer.
- Practice! You can only play Wordle once a day, but there are many Wordle clones online - Quordle, Absurdle, Dordle, Sweardle, etc. - that you can use to hone your skills. There's even a Wordle Archive, used for many of the screenshots above, that allows you to play through old Wordle puzzles that you may have missed.