Wordle – It’s the viral craze of 2022 (so far, anyway). Even if you’ve never played the game, there’s no way you haven’t seen those little grey, yellow and green grids clogging up your social feeds.
In fact, it’s such a phenomenon that the New York Times recently bought the game from developer Josh Wardle for an ‘undisclosed seven-figure sum’.
The game itself is simple – you get six goes to guess a five-letter word. If the letter is in the solution but in the wrong spot, the tile turns yellow. If you have the right letter in the right spot, the tile turns green. Once all the letters are green, you’re done!
Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Well, when you’re on your final guess and you’ve got no idea what the stupid, stupid word is, it seems far from easy!
There are a few tactics you can use to make it easier to guess the solution—and here they are.
It’s all about the first word
The English language may have 26 letters, but they’re not all used with equal frequency. At least one of the five vowels—A, E, I, O, U—turns up in almost every word; meanwhile, certain consonants—especially T, N, S, H and R—are more popular than the rest of the alphabet.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the ten most used letters in the English language (and the percentage of words they appear in), are:
Ten most used letters in English
E – 11.1%
A – 8.5%
R – 7.6%
I – 7.5%
O – 7.1%
T – 6.9%
N – 6.6%
S – 5.7%
L – 5.4%
C – 4.5388%
How does this relate to Wordle? Well, choosing a first word that features a lot of these common letters gives you the biggest bang for buck in terms of a) eliminating incorrect letters and b) identifying what letters are in the solution.
There are two schools of thought here:
1. Eliminate the vowels
Some players advocate stuffing your first word with as many vowels as possible, based on the logic that vowels turn up in every word. Suggested opening gambits include:
Words with many vowels
2. Use the most common letters
The other tactic is to ignore whether letters are a vowel or a consonant and go by pure popularity, eliminating the most common letters (indeed, this is my preferred tactic). Good words for this approach include:
Words with common letters
Either way, using one of these words will put you on a fast track to winning Wordle.
The second word – almost as important as the first
The second word should also consist of popular letters—again, to get the biggest bang for your buck—but they should be different letters to those used in your first word.
So, if you used E and A as the vowels in your first word, use O, I or U in your second word. If you used T, R or S as the consonants in your first word, try using N, L or C in your second word. Apparently, the combination of ADIEU for the first word and STORY for the second is one of the most mathematically efficient combinations, as this captures more of the most popular letters than any other pairing.
Should you include correct letters in your second word? Some Wordle players recommend ignoring any green or yellow letters from your first word, arguing that you’re just trying to eliminate as many options as possible at this point. Others suggest including any green or yellow letters, as you could get lucky and fluke the answer.
Personally, I flip-flop between the two strategies depending on the day, but veer towards including at least some of the letters I know to be correct. At the very least, it allows me to try different placements for yellow letters.
Word three onwards
Up until this point, you’ve basically been code cracking—but this is where having a good vocabulary comes in handy. Here are a few tips to find the elusive ‘all green’ word.
Certain letters are more commonly used at the beginnings and ends of words. The most common letters at the beginning of an English word are T, A, O, D and W; the most common letters at the end of a word are E, S, D and T. If any of these letters are in the solution, it’s worth placing these at the beginning or the end of the word.
Vowels and consonants typically alternate, too. Consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant is a pretty common construction so can be a good starting point—but don’t be hamstrung by this, as it’s not always the case.
Certain letters just go together—and others absolutely do not. Try to keep these common letter pairs in mind when thinking of possible solutions—especially if you have a word that seems to be all consonants.
Common letter pairings
Other Wordle top tips
Watch out for repeated letters
Just because your green tile appeared in one spot doesn’t mean it won’t appear elsewhere in the Wordle. Letters turn up more than once in words all the time—see SWILL above, and another recent example was TACIT. Keep trying letters even when you’ve already ‘used’ them.
Another gotcha for British and Australian players is that Wordle uses US English. Remember: labour is out and labor is in; it’s not a metre, it’s a meter.
Sometimes, the answer can be a bit obscure
While Wordle largely uses common words, every so often it can throw in a real curveball.
This is where it really pays off to have a wide vocabulary: the more words you know, the more likely it is you’ll be able to pinpoint the answer without having to try every combination of letters you can think of. Here are some of Wordle’s most obscure solutions and their meanings:
- CAULK: a waterproof filler and sealant, used in building work and repairs (or the act of waterproofing, as in ‘to caulk’)
- KNOLL: a small round hill
- CRIMP: something that is wavy, bent or pinched – hair, leather or pastry – or the act of making it wavy, bent or pinched
- HELIX: something spiral in form
- TILDE: the ~ mark often placed over the letter n (ñ) in some languages
- CONIC: of a cone, or relating to a cone
You can’t beat a broad vocabulary
There you have it: Outwrite’s foolproof tips to help you solve Wordle (nearly) every day. Still, no matter the strategy you use, the best way to win at Wordle is to know a lot of words—and there are no shortcuts for that other than to read and write a lot.
Well, almost. One easy way to improve your vocabulary is to take advantage of Outwrite’s vocabulary tool, which auto-detects weak words and offers stronger alternatives. Not only will it help you learn new words for more effective Wordling, it’ll improve your writing too.
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