Everything you need/want to know about Wordle

Wordle, the Viral Word Game: What Is It, How Do You Play and Tricks to Impress Your Friends

Everything you need to know about the online game that has taken the internet by storm

The once-a-day word game Wordle was created by Josh Wardle, a New York software engineer who made a prototype in 2013 and dusted it off during the pandemic.PHOTO: STEFANI REYNOLDS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

By Joseph Pisani FollowUpdated Jan. 13, 2022 5:18 pm ETSAVEPRINTTEXTListen to articleLength7 minutesQueue

Wordle, an online word game, seems like it’s everywhere these days. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Wordle?

It’s a once-a-day word game that has gone viral in the past few weeks. It can only be played on a website.

Who brought this on us?

Wordle was created by Josh Wardle, a software engineer from New York. He created a prototype in 2013 and dusted it off during the pandemic for his partner, who likes playing word games.


How do I play?

Go to the game’s website on your desktop or mobile browser. The URL is: https://www.powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle/

Wordle is simple: You have six chances to guess the day’s secret five-letter word. Type in a word as a guess, and the game tells you which letters are or aren’t in the word.

The game is free and has no ads. The aim is to figure out the secret word with the fewest guesses.

In Wordle, colored letter tiles help players inch closer to guessing the day’s secret word.
What do the green and yellow squares mean?

When you make a guess in the game, the letter tiles change colors to show how close you are to the secret word.

If you guess “weary,” and the “W” turns green, that means the secret word starts with a “W.” If the “E” turns yellow, the letter is in the word but not in that spot. Any letters that aren’t in the secret word turn gray.

Is there an app?

Nope. It can only be played on the game’s website, and the creator said he doesn’t plan on turning it into an app.

But that didn’t stop others from making their own copycat games to cash in on the trend. Bogus Wordle apps filled Apple Inc. ’s App Store in the past week, rising to the top of the most-downloaded charts. But Apple said Tuesday night that it removed those apps.

Can I play more than once daily?

Some players have figured out a way to do that: They use the Wayback Machine, an online internet archive where you can go to Wordle’s website from past days and play old games.

This is a breeze. Is there a harder way to play?

There is a way to switch to “hard mode.” This means when a letter turns green or yellow, you must use those letters in the following guesses.

Whether this is hard or not depends on how you already play. Some already keep guessing words with the correct letters. Others, when they can’t come up with a word with the correct letters, guess with a word that has different letters. 

To switch to hard mode, click the gear icon in the top right corner of the game and click to turn on hard mode.

Why are my Facebook and Twitter timelines a sea of green and yellow squares?

First, sorry about that. It’s part of why the game has gone viral. The creator noticed fans in New Zealand were posting results with colored boxes they drew themselves. So he made it easier to share the results of the game.

How did Wordle go viral?

Mr. Wardle said the game started to take off in mid-November, when technologist Andy Baio put a link to the game in his blog. Mr. Wardle then made it easy to share results by posting the green and yellow squares on FacebookTwitter and texting apps, and the game went viral from there. 

“The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon has tweeted repeatedly about the game, helping fuel its popularity.

How many people are playing?

Some 1.8 million people played on Jan. 7, Mr. Wardle said, whereas just 90 played on Nov. 1, 2021.

Wordle lets people guess a secret word just once a day, posting a new one at midnight in each player’s time zone.
Why is it just once a day?

The once-daily aspect also helped the game go viral. Since everyone in the world gets the same Wordle game at midnight in their time zone, it enables players to talk to each other about how they did and what guesses they made. 

“It becomes a shared experience,” Mr. Wardle said.

I want to become a Wordle whiz. Any tips or tricks?

There is plenty debate among fans on the best way to play. Mr. Wardle himself said he doesn’t know the best strategy. “You’re asking the wrong person,” he said. “I’m very bad at it.”

Avid players typically have a favorite first word they think gets them to the answer fastest. Two groups have emerged: those who type in vowel-heavy words first, such as “adieu” or “arose,” and those who go after common consonants with words such as “stare.”

Some have even created spreadsheets to figure out the most commonly occurring letters in five-letter words. One player determined that those are E, S, A, R and O and opted to use “arose” as his first guess. 

Others just wing it and type whatever comes to their mind. If you’re looking for strategies, try finding a Wordle Facebook group like WORDLE Friends, where people are sharing tips, tricks and hints.

Why is Buffalo Wild Wings tweeting about Wordle?

Brands can’t resist jumping on a viral trend. It is a way to join the conversation and gain followers and likes. The chicken wing chain turned the game into a series of five-letter words: Order. Wings. Today.

Lego reimagined Wordle with its colorful bricks.

London-based Starling Bank Ltd. used Wordle’s squares to tease its rivals on Twitter and proclaim itself the best British bank.

Are famous people playing it?

Yes. Musician Questlove tweeted Tuesday that he was “legit amped” after solving his first Wordle puzzle. Mr. Fallon from “The Tonight Show” tweeted in early January to his 51 million followers he was “addicted” to the game. Three days later the comedian tweeted he was “still hooked.”

Mr. Wardle’s friends sent him Mr. Fallon’s tweets. But the creator said he is more impressed by other game developers who have played and tweeted about Wordle.

“I’m not super plugged in to celebrities,” Mr. Wardle said. “I know who Jimmy Fallon is. I don’t watch his show or anything like that.”

I’m color blind. Is there a way to play?

There is a “color blind mode” that switches the correct guesses from green and yellow to orange and blue, colors that are easier to tell apart for people with color blindness. Click the gear icon in the top right corner of the game and click on color blind mode to change it.  

Anything else I should know?

Yes. Wordle spoofs have popped up. You can try to guess the letter of the day. Or there’s another site for naughtier words if that’s your thing. When you guess the right four-letter word, the site tells you, “I’m sure your mother will be very proud.”

Write to Joseph Pisani at joseph.pisani@wsj.com

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