Wordle: Taking Over the World in Five Letters


“I got it in three!” “Don’t tell me the word, I haven’t done it yet.” “Is there a double letter?” These phrases most likely refer to Wordle, a web based word game taking the world by storm. It was initially developed and released in October 2021 by Welsh software engineer Josh Wordle. It gained popularity in early 2022 and has since been bought by the New York Times. It will ultimately become part of the company’s subscription puzzle service, but Wardle himself made sure that the game would remain free to play. In the game, players are given six chances to guess a random five-letter word. You begin by inputting a random word with five letters. Most people like to start with words like “audio” or “adieu” because they consist mainly of vowels. When you press enter, the letter tiles show up in three different colors. Green means the letter is in the correct space. Yellow means the letter is in the word, but not in the correct position. Gray means that the letter is not in the world at all. Using these clues, players continue inputting words until they can guess the word. The main reason this game has become as popular as it is is likely due to its easy access and social nature. The game is free to play and can be pulled up on any device with internet access. There is only one puzzle per day which means that every person who does it is trying to guess the same word. This can lead to friendly competition between friends and family. I myself compete with my mom to see who can guess the word in the least tries. Social media has also helped spread its popularity as people challenge each other to try to guess the word. Because of its popularity, it has spawned many knockoffs and variations. Wordle2 (now called WordHurdle due to copyright) is the same thing as the original, except with a six-letter word instead of a five-letter word. There are also two puzzles to do a day instead of just one. Nerdle involves inputting numbers and signs to guess the mystery math equation. Globle involves guessing the mystery country based on relative distance. Dordle forces the player to do two normal Wordle games at once, having to use the exact same letters for both. More obscure versions include Byrdle, a choral-themed Wordle, and Swordle, a Star Wars themed Wordle. Probably the hardest I’ve tried is Semantle, which involves guessing random words of any length to find the mystery word based on how close the meanings of the guessed words are to the correct word.

Wordle’s popularity is still going strong. Personally, it’s a pleasantly surprising that a word puzzle of all things has gained so much popularity from the masses, but hopefully it will have a positive effect on those who indulge in it.