How to Pick the Perfect Wordle Starting Word

Monday, January 243 min read

Have you seen posts on Facebook or Twitter featuring little yellow, green, and gray boxes and wondered what that was all about? It’s Wordle — a word game played by over 2.5 million people a day. Whether you’re a Wordle superfan or complete novice, here are some tips and strategies to improve your daily guesses.

What Is Wordle?

The game started as a small project for developer Josh Wardle’s friends and family. He set it up online to be played for free on any computer or mobile device. It was sold in 2022 to the "New York Times," where it can now be played alongside the paper's other popular word games, but it exists in exactly the same original format.

The rules are simple. Players have six guesses to discover the five-letter mystery word of the day. If a green letter appears on the screen, it means that letter is in the word and in the correct spot. If a letter appears in yellow, it means it is in the word but in the wrong spot. If a letter turns gray, that means it’s not part of today’s word and can be disregarded.

Part of what made Wordle a viral hit is that it can only be played once a day. A new puzzle is generated every 24 hours, and every person in the world gets the same word to solve. Once they uncover the word of the day, players can share a graphic of their colored-square guesses to show off how well (or poorly) they performed. The words are not displayed, so the green, yellow, and gray squares popping up all over social media feeds continue to generate excitement for the simple game.

Improving Your Wordle IQ

While it’s an extremely simple premise, wordsmiths know there are a few strategies at play. First, there are 12,972 five-letter words. However, only 2,315 more commonly used words will be possible solutions to the daily puzzle. The developer narrowed down the list of acceptable words to make it less frustrating for the average player. (Although there was a bit of an uproar from players unfamiliar with “REBUS” and “TAPIR.”)

Interestingly, while the original URL of the game ended with a “,” Wordle is played with American English spellings. So, players from Canada or the U.K. could be tripped up with words such as “FAVOR” and “COLOR.”

When thinking of possible words, don’t be afraid to use the same letter twice. Previous solutions of “ABBEY” and “GORGE” were trickier because they contained double letters.

With only six guesses, the first word is crucial. A player might hit a stroke of luck, but the first guess should generally contain the most popular letters: the vowels “A,” “E,” “I,” and “O,” along with the letters “N,” “S,” and “T.” While it’s always fun to hit the jackpot, the odds aren’t great to guess the winner with the first guess by using less common letters.

Choosing a Starting Word

Probably the most heated topic of debate among Wordle players is which starting word to use. While some choose a random starting word each day, others fiercely debate the merits of different five-letter words. So, if you want to commit to one word every day, here are some options:

SOARE: This word, which means “a young hawk,” contains three useful vowels. However, it is not one of the 2,315 recognizable words, so if you commit to this starting word, you’ll have to resign yourself to the fact that you will never ever guess the Wordle on the first try.

ROATE: Also not among the common words, but it has the same great combination of vowels. This word is an obsolete version of “rote,” which means “learning by repetition.”

RAISE: Personally, this is our favorite. Several analysts say this is the ideal starting word if you want to reveal lots of potential letters and have the chance of guessing the word on the first try. Use “ARISE” as a variation if you’re in the mood for something different.

Not liking any of these ideas? Here are some other starting words with two vowels and three power-packed consonants:





Want more vowels? Try these three vowel and two consonant combos:






Really love vowels? Try these starting words with at least four vowels:






Once you choose your starting word and begin improving your score, make sure to share your Wordle triumphs far and wide.

Featured image credit: AsiaVision/ iStock

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