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Wordle hacks: how to win at the New York Times' popular new word guessing game.

By Curt_Anderson
May 12, 2022 1:15 pm
Category: Games & Toys

(5.0 from 2 votes)
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The objective of Wordle is to guess the secret word.

The rules of Wordle are relatively simple. You are given six tries to guess the daily Wordle which appears in the New York Time online. Each guess must be a valid five-letter word.

After each guess, the color of the tiles will change to show how close your guess was to the Wordle. A letter appearing on a green tile is in the word and in the correct spot. A letter on a gold tile is in the word but in the wrong spot. A letter on a grey tile is not in the word in any spot.

When making your initial word guesses it helps to know the frequency in which the letters of the alphabet appear in the English language vocabulary. The following is a result of an analysis of the letters occurring in the words listed in the main entries of the Concise Oxford Dictionary (9th edition, 1995) and came up with the following table:
E 11.16%
A 8.50%
R 7.58%
I 7.54%
O 7.16%
T 6.95%
N 6.65%
S 5.74%
L 5.49%
C 4.54%
U 3.63%
D 3.38%
P 3.17%
M 3.01%
H 3.00%
G 2.47%
B 2.07%
F 1.81%
Y 1.78%
W 1.29%
K 1.10%
V 1.01%
X 0.29%
Z 0.27%
J 0.20%
Q 0.20%

It makes sense to guess words consisting of commonly used letters. In other words, your first guesses should consist of low-value Scrabble tile letters. A small percent of possible words contain Scrabble's ten-point Q or X.

One of my strategies is to use words that contain the eight of most frequently used letters. So I have used the words, "arise", "raise", "irate" and "atone" as my first guess. The odds are better than fifty percent that at least one of those letters will appear in the Wordle word.


CBS8 reports that Myles Mellor, the famous crossword puzzle writer, has a system consisting of "Five Magic Words". The words are in order, "derby", "flank", "ghost", "winch" and "jumps". His five magic words contain 22 letters of the 26-letter alphabet. He repeats N, H and S. The only letters that are not covered are relatively rare Q, V, X and Z. Using Mellor's strategy it's near a certainty that the handful of remaining letters will be a word or an anagram of the day's Wordle word.

I see a couple of flaws to the "Five Magic Words" system. One, there are many five-letter words consisting of the same letters but in a different order such as "raise" and "arise". Or "trail" and "trial". So if you use Mellor's five words in your first five guesses, you have just one shot to get the correct word. Of course, most of the time there won't be more than one possible word to enter.

The more major flaw to Mellor's system is that it takes most of the fun out of the game. That approach would be appropriate for a cryptographer deciphering an enemy's secret coded message. But when I play, my goal is to have as few wrong guesses as possible and not to use all six tries. Having played Wordle about dozen times, I have always managed to guess the word within the six allotted tries.

Another strategy that I use is to enter as my first guesses two words that contain one vowel each and the most commonly used consonants. Two words that I use are "trend" and "clasp". Those eight consonants appear on 43.5% of English words. I reasoned that the vowels in the Wordle will be either be an A or E because they are highlighted, or they will be by process of elimination U, I, O or Y. Most of the time, you can guess what a five letter word is with the vowels missing. You've probably seen vanity license plates on cars with missing vowels like this car's plate which reads CLR BLND. Even with the vowels omitted the message is fairly obvious. Especially when, as in Wordle, there are spaces indicating where and how many vowels are in the word.

You can see how this strategy worked on today's (May 12th) Wordle in the final paragraphs. Note the spoiler alert.

While we are talking about words games, I recently added a name-guessing game to SelectSmart.com. See the link below. It's similar to the old paper and pencil game, hangman. Instead of words to guess, there are a couple of thousand of the most popular names for babies over the past several years.

😱 Spoiler alert, don't read further, don't look at and don't open the small image below if you don't want to see the answer for today's Wordle.







In this example I used "trend" and "clasp". Because of the green tiles, I knew that two letters were in the proper position and another letter, S, was somewhere in the word. The S could not be in the middle of the word, but it could have been at the end or the beginning.

The final letter which follows the N might have been G, K, S or possibly a vowel.

There are a few possible letters that could be before the second letter, L. Besides that vowels there are B, S, F, C and G that come to mind. S was a logical and likely possibility as the first letter so I tried that. I didn't but could have used the S as the final letter. In my experience and from what I've been told, the Times doesn't use pluralized four-letter words as the Wordle. At least they haven't yet as far as I know.

There were limited possible vowels in the middle: I, O, U or Y. The middle letter could not have been a consonant. I tried SLING. I considered SLINK. Either way, I would have had three or four letters on green tiles and one or two on a grey tile. Or I might have hit upon the correct word. At that point, I don't think there were more than three possible words to try. But if there were other possibilities, the wrong ones would be quickly exhausted before I used up my six tries.


Cited and related links:

  1. nytimes.com
  2. cbs8.com
  3. selectsmart.com

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The views and claims expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views and beliefs of SelectSmart.com. Not every statement made here can be assumed to be a fact.
Comments on "Wordle hacks: how to win at the New York Times' popular new word guessing game.":

  1. by Donna on May 12, 2022 4:51 pm
    Thanks for the instructions. I've been wondering how to play it, but I guess I haven't been interested enough to search for instructions. I might give it a try, though.


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