The GuardianThe Guardian

How to win at Wordle using linguistic theory

By David Shariatmadari

11 Jan 2022 · 4 min read

It’s a point in 2022’s favour that, rather than violent insurrection or the misery of lockdown, most English-speaking people on the internet are currently preoccupied with a harmless word game. Harmless at the time of writing, I should say – it’s popular enough that some kind of backlash is inevitable. I’m sure any day now Wordle will be revealed as a Bad Thing and I don’t want to speculate how; I am merely here to observe that it is a) a lot of fun b) linguistically interesting, and I’d like to explain why. I may even be able to make you a bit better at it.

If you don’t already know, Wordle is a browser-based puzzle that gives you six goes at guessing a five-letter word. If your guess includes a letter that’s correct but in the wrong place, it turns yellow (more like ochre – now there’s a good starting word for you). If it includes a letter that’s correct and in the right place, it turns green, allowing you to build on your guesses until you hit the jackpot. The solution to the Wordle in the screenshot above is “craze”.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content