What’s the Word on Wordle?

Wordle players at Stuyvesant reflect upon the game.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“Adieu” is a common first guess for Wordle players, but we won’t be saying adieu to the game anytime soon. You’ve probably played or heard of Wordle before: it’s the reason your friends are posting those colored squares on Facebook every day. This straightforward New York Times guessing game gives players six chances to guess a five-letter word. It may not seem very impressive at first, but the simplicity and satisfaction of the puzzle has suddenly popularized it over the past few months.

At Stuyvesant, Wordle has become quite the sensation. It has become part of many students’ daily routines. “It’s just something to make me think in the morning,” freshman Fiona Li, who plays it every day, explained. “If I get the word in two or three tries, I feel happy and that makes my day,” she said.

While it provides a short and sweet dose of mental stimulation for some, Wordle has also created the opportunity for others to try out their own experiments and push their problem-solving abilities. Junior Gabriel Thompson, who plays the game daily, created a program that could solve the Wordle puzzles. However, he uses this program not to solve the puzzles for him, but to instead get insight on how a computer would approach puzzles like these. “After I’m done [solving the Wordle manually], I’ll try using a solver and see how fast it goes. Part of the weird thing about it is that the optimal Wordle strategy often has some really weird results,” he explained in an online interview. “The starting word [is always] ‘salet’ and it uses a decision tree that I generated[:] you can click on each of the blocks to change the color of it and then [the program] calculates the next move given that.”

Often, a word will come up where four of the letters are known, but one of the letters is missing. Thompson gave “S–ILL” as an example. “It’s a terrible strategy to just test all of [the possible words] in order but a lot of people do that,” Thompson said. “For example, words like ‘still,’ ‘shill,’ ‘swill.’ You should try and make another word that has [those letters:] you should have something like “width,” because that’ll have W, H, and T in them. You’ll be able to see which one of ‘still,’ ‘shill,’ ‘swill’ is it.”

Sophomore Dorothy Ha ran into this issue on Wordle #265. “I hate some of the words in the Wordle database,” she wrote in an e-mail interview. “I lost my 100 [percent] Wordle streak to the word ‘watch.’ My other guesses were ‘catch,’ ‘match,’ ‘latch,’ ‘batch,’ and ‘patch.’ I was absolutely devastated.”

Despite the patches of difficulty, sophomore Zareen Islam explained in an e-mail interview that she loves the game because it’s accessible, easy to understand, and convenient. “I like how simple it is, and how it’s like other games I’ve played before so it’s not a terribly unfamiliar concept. I also like that due to its popularity, I can talk about it with my friends,” she wrote. “There’s a public StuyWordle Facebook group where we all post our daily Wordle results and Wordle variations.” There are over 130 members in the group as of now, where students have been posting results since January.

Though the original Wordle is simple enough to follow, all over the Internet, there have been Wordle variants developing faster than COVID-19 variants. For instance, there’s Subwaydle, a subway version; Nerdle, a math version; Taylordle, a Taylor Swift version; and even Lewdle, a version with more inappropriate words, just to name a few. “Every now and then I play Quordle and Sedecordle. I wouldn’t necessarily say I like them better, but when I’m looking for an actual challenge I find these more entertaining [than] the original,” Islam revealed. Quordle makes players guess four words simultaneously, allotting nine guesses in total. Sedecordle has the same concept, but makes players guess 16 words with 21 total guesses. There are even Wordles out there in different languages: “Le Mot” is the French version and “Un juego de palabras diario” is the Spanish version.

Students aren’t the only ones who enjoy playing Wordle. English teacher Katherine Fletcher has played consistently ever since she read about it becoming a viral sensation, which was around the time her family started playing and she decided to check it out. “I’ve played 82 times and I’ve never missed a day,” she proclaimed.

While Wordle’s popularity seems to be exploding, there are some that don’t understand why. Freshman Brandon Waworuntu, for example, doesn’t find Wordle that interesting. “I don’t really get it. Like, what’s the hype all about?” Waworuntu remarked in an online interview. “I guess it can be kind of addicting and you can [feel] accomplished when you get it right, but that’s just not for me.”

Indeed, Wordle is quite addicting, and the majority of people, including Li, Islam, Fletcher, and Thompson, seem to play it daily, or try to. It usually takes them about four attempts to guess the word, with the occasional lucky twos and threes. Regardless of commitment levels to the daily streak, Wordle seems to have captured the hearts of the Stuy community as something new to bond over.