Do you find yourself struggling with the daily Wordle puzzle? Do those little green, yellow and grey letters taunt you from your phone screen as you fruitlessly resist the temptation to Google “words ending in ‘IST’”?
One way to improve your Wordle game is to find the perfect starting word - five letters that are guaranteed to give you a smattering of helpful clues to get you rolling.
But which words are the best to start with in Wordle?
Here are some suggestions...
What is Wordle?
Firstly, a little context on the game of Wordle, an online brain teaser which lies somewhere between a crossword and a sudoku puzzle.
Anyone who knows the game Mastermind, which employs the use of coloured pegs, will instantly be familiar with the premise of Wordle.
The objective of the game is to guess the secret word in six tries, using a series of hints to figure it out.
- If any of your letters are highlighted as green, that means that you’ve got the right letter in the right place.
- If any of the letters are highlighted as yellow, that means that those letters are in the word, but they’re currently in the wrong place.
- Finally, if any of your letters are highlighted as grey, it means that those letters aren’t included anywhere in the secret word.
There is only one puzzle released each day, so you’ll need to check the website again the following day to continue playing along.
Users can share how many tries it took for them to crack the puzzle on social media, as, after it’s been solved, the website offers players the option to share their results.
This share option generates an emoji grid which replicates the colour pattern found on your completed puzzle, using the black, yellow and green emoji boxes.
Sharing like this allows players to share their results entirely spoiler-free.
What is the best starting word for Wordle?
Depending on who you ask, the answer to the above question may be slightly different.
Lexicographers, linguistics experts and even computer scientists have all been trying to figure out the definitive best word for starting a game of Wordle.
But so far, there’s no one size fits all answer.
Wordle’s new owners the New York Times have developed a bot that found that ‘crane’ was the most effective starting word, but they also said that “the perfect opening word for a computer isn’t necessarily the perfect opening word for you”.
That being said, there are still a number of words that are thought to give you an edge.
These words often contain a multitude of vowels - nearly every word in the English language makes use of either A, E, I, O, or U at some point - or some of the most commonly occurring letters.
Unfortunately, there are no words in English that are made up entirely of vowels, so we will have to settle for the next best thing: a five-letter word containing four of them.
Five-letter words that contain four vowels include:
What are the most common letters?
While those words will give you the edge in the realm of vowels, you could also start with some words that make use of the English language’s most commonly used letters.
In the mid-90s, the Oxford Dictionary conducted an analysis of its entries, which revealed E and A to be the two most common letters, appearing in 11 and 8% of words respectively.
But since we’ve already tackled vowels, let’s focus on the most commonly used consonants.
R, T and N take the top three places, so producing a starting word containing all of the top five words would certainly be a good start.
That word is ‘ANTRE’, an archaic term for a cavern or cave.
Is ‘LATER’ the best Wordle starting word?
That word is unlikely to score you a one-try win, however.
That’s because Wordle makes use of a pre-programmed word list from which each day’s solution is selected.
While this list is extensive, running to thousands of entries, it doesn’t cover every possible five-letter permutation (it only contains 2,315 of the more than 12,000 five-letter words in the English language).
And it definitely doesn’t include the outdated term, ‘antre’.
So which word contains the largest amount of helpful, commonly appearing letters, and is also - crucially - in Wordle’s list?
According to Chris Wanek, a TikTok user who wrote and ran a computer script to determine the game’s best possible starter, that word is ‘LATER’.
After being inspired by a fellow user who claimed that, linguistically, the best word to use is ‘IRATE’, Wanek copied the entire word list, and then made a script to calculate the frequencies of each letter.
The script then scored each word based on the frequencies of the letters in the word, and then calculated the most optimal starting word.
What’s the worst word to start with?
If you really want to give yourself a challenge, you could take the opposite approach and start with a five-letter word that’s unlikely to be of much help.
In figuring out the best starting word, Wanek also determined the very worst.
That word is the consonant-laden ‘XYLYL’, a scientific term for “any of several isomeric monovalent radicals C8H9 derived from the three xylenes by removal of a hydrogen atom.”