What Is Wordle? A Quick Explainer, If You’re Still Wondering

published Oct 17, 2023
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illustration of a woman playing wordle on her phone with various letters floating around her
Credit: Subin Yang

Between checking email, finding directions, taking photos, and scrolling social media, there are plenty of ways to spend time on your phone — but arguably the most fun is playing a game. And in recent years, one of the phone games that has risen to extreme popularity is Wordle. If you’ve heard the name but are still wondering what exactly it is, here are all the answers to your question “What is Wordle?” — from where it came from, to how to play.

What Is Wordle?

Wordle is a simple phone or computer game where users have six chances to guess a five-letter word of the day. The premise is simple, but it’s become a consistent part of the daily lives of millions of users. 

Software engineer Josh Wardle — the name of his creation is a play on his last name — developed Wordle in late 2021 for his word game-loving partner. It was an immediate hit and became so popular that the New York Times purchased it in early 2022 to encourage more subscribers while capitalizing on an irresistible game that doesn’t consume too much time. 

How to Play Wordle

Each Wordle quiz begins with six horizontal rows containing five blank boxes. To begin, think of a five-letter word (all guesses must be actual English words), and Wordle will tell you if any of the letters are in the word of the day. 

A grayscale box means that a letter doesn’t appear in the day’s word, a yellow box indicates that the letter appears in a different spot, and a green box means that you guessed the right character in the correct place. Letters can also appear twice within the same word, for example, as in happy (p) or serve (e).

Use the information from your first try to make subsequent attempts and hopefully guess Wordle’s word of the day in six tries or fewer. Once you finish the puzzle — success or failure — that’s it until the following day.

Credit: Wachiwit / Shutterstock

Tips and Tricks for Playing Wordle

Although Wordle is a relatively simple game, there are a few tricks to guess the day’s word in fewer attempts. Try starting with a strong word right away, like ones with a lot of vowels (a, e, i, o, and u) or popular consonants, such as s, t, r, and n. Guesses like start, canoe, slate, and caret contain prominent letters to increase your chances of getting the Wordle in fewer than six tries. 

Another strategy is to use all vowels within the first round or two to determine which ones appear in the daily word. Adieu and radio are good for the first and second rounds, as they have vowels and common consonants. Also, be patient with yourself, and don’t try to hurry. Guess carefully and consider various options before making your next attempt. Rushing through often results in wrong answers and waiting until the next day before finding success with a new puzzle.

Wordle Spinoff Games

Whether you enjoy Wordle but crave more daily puzzles or want to experiment with a different genre, there are plenty of options based on the Wordle model. 

  • In a Sudoku-meets-Wordle twist, Waffle has users swap letters to complete a daily puzzle. 
  • To learn more about geography, play Worldle, where you must figure out a country based on its shape and distance from your guesses.
  • Music lovers will enjoy playing Lyricle, a game where you guess songs based on reading one lyric at a time — you have six tries to get it right.
  • If you constantly listen to true crime podcasts, Murdle puts you in the position to solve a mystery. 
  • “Lord of the Rings” fans can also get their daily fix with Lordle of the Rings, a worthy alternative. 

With Wordle’s popularity and ease of play, there are plenty of options for those who want to add a little gaming into their day.