At this point in the pandemic, we're all looking for something enjoyable to distract us – even momentarily – from all the chaos, which may explain why the simple, no-frills Wordle game has become so popular. It's a web-based puzzle that asks players to guess a new five-letter word every day, in six tries or less, and everyone gets the same word. You may have seen people sharing the grey, green and yellow square patterns on Twitter, which shows how they did on Wordle that day without giving the solution (more on that in a sec).ContentsWhere can I find Wordle? How to play Wordle? What are those squares that everyone shares on Twitter? Is there anything else I need to know?
From a lovely New York Times Wordle profile creator and software engineer Josh Wardle (get it?), he designed the game as a gift for his partner Palak Shah, who loves word games and crossword puzzles. The pair apparently got into the NYT Spelling Bee and Daily Crossword Puzzles in 2020, and Wardle wanted to create a new game that Shah would like. The perceived rarity of the game - only one puzzle per day - leaves the player wanting more.
The game is web-based, so there's no official app to download (although that's not for lack of trying by a few imitators). You can play using a mobile or desktop browser; just go to www.powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle/. You have until midnight, when the word resets and a new word is there for you to guess. I often start a game, leave the browser tab open, and come back later to try and find the correct word.
Everyone has their own strategy for how they approach that first blank grid of squares. Picking a word that has lots of vowels as your first guess is a solid plan; once you rule out the different vowels, it narrows down the word choices considerably (and no, I'm not telling you my secret seed word). Type your word and press "Enter".
The letters which are in the word and which are in the correct place will then turn green, the letters which are in the word but in a different place will be yellow and the letters which are not in the day will be grey. Note that a green or yellow letter may appear more than once in a word - for example, if you roll a green "a", there could be another "a" elsewhere in the word - but you won't know not necessarily until you play the next word. And no fake words are allowed - the game will send you a "Not in word list" message if you try to enter AEIOU, for example.
In the screenshot below, the keyboard displays the letters you guessed wrong (i.e. not in the word) in dark gray or black and the letters you haven't guessed yet in light gray. You'll know you've won when all the letters turn green (and a compliment like "Awesome" appears).
Wardle didn't originally create a sharing component for the game, but after seeing users on Twitter sharing their results using green, yellow and blacks, it added a share button that lets you copy your results after you've completed the game in a way that won't give word of the day to anyone who hasn't played it yet. So in the grid below you can see that I guessed completely wrong on the first entry, got two letters correct in the right places on the second attempt, and guessed the word correctly on the third try (not bad!).
There is a high contrast "colorblind" version and a dark mode available; you can activate them by using the gear symbol in the upper right corner next to the word WORDLE. If you're feeling really lucky, you can also turn on "hard mode", which requires you to include hints in the next word. For example, in the first screenshot, on hard mode, I should include the R, T, and O in my third guess (so RADIO wouldn't have worked there).
It should be noted that this display option may be difficult for those who use online screen readers, such as the visually impaired. Developer Cariad Eccleston, founder of antagonist.app, has created a way to make your results accessible (h/t to Liam O'Dell for that tip). Paste the results you copied from the Wordle site into the translator at wa11y.co/, and you'll get a text description of how you did it. Here's today's description:
Of course, since we are on the Internet, Wordle’s the grids have been meme-ified, repurposed for political messaging, and many brands have tried to take advantage of the game's popularity. But Wardle told the BBC he has no plans to include any adverts in the game. and does not collect or do anything suspicious with anyone's data. A cool thing on the internet? We deserve it.