Commentary by Curtis Honeycutt
Have you been seeing strange updates on your friends’ social media accounts? I’m not talking about armchair political hot takes or quack medical advice — that’s standard social media fare. I’m referring to rows of gray, yellow and green squares. Your friends and work acquaintances aren’t posting secret codes; they’re posting about a viral game called Wordle.
How can Grammar Guy resist talking about the Wordle phenomenon? After all, I’m a proud word nerd (and I hope you are as well). The game is simple: Figure out the five-letter word of the day in six attempts or fewer. If you guess a correct letter in the correct spot, that letter will turn green. If you try a letter from the word in an incorrect spot, that letter will turn yellow. Finally, if you guess a letter that isn’t in the word at all, it will become grayed out on your keyboard (think “Hangman” without the unnecessary stick figure death).
Your goal, of course, is to arrive at the word of the day in as few chances as possible. Believe it or not, there’s not an app for this (although there is an app called Wordle, but it’s not the one everyone is playing). You have to go to powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle to play the game that’s sweeping the English-speaking world. Everyone gets the same word each day. Once you finish the word for the day, you have to wait until the next day for the new one. I love the pure egalitarianism of it.
I suppose Wordle could be just another pandemic fad, just as “Tiger King,” sourdough baking, and hand-washing each had their moments in the spotlight. Of course, as a wonky word warrior, I wanted to figure out how to dominate Wordle. Naturally, I turned to my next-door neighbor, Beth. According to Beth (who hasn’t missed a word yet), the first word to pick is always “least.” You’ll likely get multiple “yellow” or “green” letters from this word. Her second-round word is “round,” which covers five more common letters. Once you tackle those two words, you’ll probably have a decent idea of the word for your third round.
While you can find online advice to start with words including “roate” and “adieu,” I’m going to stick with Beth on this one. A good neighbor will be around much longer than any internet sensation du jour.