Wordle is a fun word game that’s been gaining a lot of popularity recently. A single new word puzzle gets released every day, making it an easy way to challenge yourself daily in just a few minutes.
Many Wordle fans brag about being able to guess the daily Wordle puzzle on their first try (you get six attempts). However, what are the real odds of that?
Today, I’m going to give you the real answer to that question. Here’s a hint: the likelihood is extremely low.
While it’s possible to guess the daily Wordle on the first try, that’s more luck than anything else. Instead, your goal should be to figure out the word on subsequent tries but before you run out of attempts.
First, though, let’s quickly explain what Wordle is and how it works.
Wordle is a daily word puzzle published by the New York Times. Part of its appeal is its simplicity.
You have to guess a five-letter word, but you only get six attempts to do so. After you make your first guess (which has to be completely random), the tool will highlight letters in different colors.
If a letter is green, it means it is not only a correct letter, but it is in the correct place in the word. However, if a letter is amber/brown, it means that the letter does exist in the word, but not in that exact position.
If a letter is gray, it means it doesn’t belong in the word altogether.
As you continue to guess words, it will become easier to figure out which word is the word of the day.
As you can see in the screenshot above, my first guess revealed that the word ended in a Y but also had an R and an A in it. My second guess revealed that there is also a C in the word and that the R is the second to last letter.
Each night, at midnight, the word resets, and a new word appears.
Overall, the game can take a few minutes to the whole day to complete, depending on the word in question and how much thinking you need to do.
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Wordle was created by Josh Wardle in 2013. However, he eventually sold it to the New York Times.
Of course, as you may have guessed, Wordle is a play on words, a combination of “word” – being a word game – and the last name of its creator, Wardle.
There are thousands of five-letter words in the English language.
There are around one million words in English altogether (and that might be off by a quarter million), of which around 13,000 have five letters.
According to one interview with Josh Wardle, he originally included those 13,000 five-letter words.
However, he quickly realized that would be a problem. The vast majority of those words are not commonly used in everyday speech by native English speakers, and many players would be unfamiliar with those words.
That would make the game quite unfair, as it would limit participation to people who have a high vocabulary and know all kinds of obscure words.
In an interview with the BBC, Wardle claimed that he narrowed down the number of words in Wordle from 12,972 to 2,315 words.
Those are still a lot of words, but at least they are commonly spoken, and most players would be familiar with them.
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Remember, your first try at Wordle is pretty random, as you don’t have any clues just yet. Therefore, you’re basically taking a randomized guess of the 2,315 available words.
Let’s say you’re guessing from the 2,315 common words used in Wordle. The chances of landing on the right word on the first try would be 1 out of 2,315.
That’s just 0.0431965443%! In other words, the chances of getting it right the first time is just a fraction of one percent.
The chances can go up. If you play Wordle every day, and you remember which words were already the word of the day in the past few days or weeks, you’ll have an easier time guessing the right word.
Again, that’s no guarantee, because Wordle can repeat words. However, the likelihood of the same word being the word of the day twice in a short period of time isn’t high.
Therefore, if you know what the word of the day was yesterday, your chances of guessing the right word increase slightly every day (1 in 2,314, 1 in 2,313, 1 in 2,312, etc.).
In reality, though, it’s probably even lower than that. Just think about it – there are only 2,315 words in Wordle, there are more five-letter words than that – they just aren’t included in Wordle.
However, you can’t know for sure whether a five-letter word you’re thinking of is included in Wordle. Most likely, it is, because the first five-letter word that comes to your mind is probably a commonly-used word and hence included in Wordle, but there is no guarantee.
Considering there are 12,972 potential words to guess from (even if they can’t be acceptable solutions in Wordle), the chances of guessing the right word on the first try, considering you know all the five-letter words in the dictionary, are just 0.0077089115%.
The true chances will therefore depend on how many five-letter words you know and how often you play Wordle. However, it’s somewhere between 0.007% and 0.05%.
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There’s a Twitter account called WordleStats, and it calculates the percentage of players playing Wordle each day and how many got it right on the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth try.
It bases those stats on publicly-shared results on Twitter. Wordle now allows you to share your results on Twitter without revealing the answer.
I’ve scrolled through the past few days, (as of this writing), and on most days, the percentage of users getting it right on the first try are what you’d expect: 0%.
The percentage of users getting it right on the second try varies, but it’s still low. It seems to be between 2-7%, depending on the day.
Most users guess the word on the 3rd-6th try. On most days, only a small percentage of users don’t guess the word at all.
However, those results are biased. It’s not that there’s an issue in the way WordleStats calculates its daisy statistics, but remember, they’re based on publicly-shared results.
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Firstly, people who fail and never guess the right word are unlikely to brag about that. Therefore, the percentage of people who never guess the word of the day – and that includes people who don’t get it on the first try — is likely higher than stated.
Furthermore, some people may cheat. It’s not that hard to find the answer to the daily Wordle puzzle online – remember, it’s the same word for everyone who plays it.
Someone who wants to appear smarter than they are on social media might peek at the word and guess it on the first attempt, and then post their results on Twitter.
Not only that, but Twitter users might not be an accurate representation of the average Wordle user. Twitter users may be smarter, for example, so it’s hard to base the overall percentage of people who guess Wordle right on the first try on Twitter results alone.
Overall, the percentage of people guessing Wordle right the first time is most likely close to zero.
So, if you are rarely able to guess the first word on the first try, don’t worry. You’re not alone – most people are in the same boat, and the results you see on social media might not be wholly accurate.
We can safely say that aiming to get Wordle right on the first try is kind of futile. There’s no realistic chance of doing that on a consistent basis, so you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment by creating unrealistic standards.
Instead, your goal should be to get the right word in the next few attempts. However, to maximize the chances of that happening, choosing the right opening word is critical.
Remember, your opening word is going to give you crucial feedback that can help you figure out the word of the day. When you make your first guess, you are pretty much going in blindly.
Here are some of the most common starting words, according to Wordlebot, an AI from the New York Times:
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WordleBot recommends slate as your opening word, which has been changed from its previous opening recommendation, crane. Other words it recommends include:
These letter combinations give you the best chance of figuring out the word of the day before the game is over, regardless of what the word of the day is.
However, researchers at MIT say that is all wrong. In a peer-reviewed paper that relied on advanced computational capabilities that WordleBot doesn’t have access to, researchers state that salet should be your first word guess.
Yes, salet is a real word, and it refers to a 15th-century helmet. Most importantly, though, researchers found that if you use that as your first word every time and then play intelligently, you can consistently guess the right word by the fifth try – every single time.
Yes, by the fifth try – you won’t even need the last guess!
The algorithm MIT used solved Wordle in 3.421 guesses, on average, when using salet as the starting word. Humans might not fare as well, but it’s still the best opening word.
You may have noticed that salet and slate contain the same letters. However, according to the researchers, salet still performs 1% better than slate — remember, in Wordle, word order matters.
Nevertheless, WordleBot says that salet is one of its favorite starting words as well.
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We’ve already established that you shouldn’t try to get Wordle right on your first try. In fact, it would be counterproductive, as you have a greater chance of winning the game if you use the same word (salet) each time you play it.
Here are some helpful tips to get better at Wordle and win the game in as few tries as possible.
WordleBot is a tool that helps you improve and optimize your Wordle strategy. It includes not only the roughly 2,300 words used as acceptable solutions in Wordle but also an additional 2,200 or so common words that people guess.
Note that WordleBot, published by the New York Times, is counted towards your limit of free monthly NYT articles. If you have already used up your free monthly articles, you will need to sign up for a New York Times All Access subscription or use it on a different browser or device.
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Word puzzles require a lot of thinking. However, patience is also often critical to winning.
Sometimes, you may not remember a certain word due to a mind block. Suddenly, it will pop into your head while going about your business.
If you can’t figure out which word to guess, consider waiting a few minutes or a few hours and then coming back. Go about your day, and the word might just pop into your mind.
Remember, you have until midnight to complete the puzzle!
While knowing obscure words isn’t necessary for winning Wordle, it does help to encounter a lot of words frequently. The more often you see, hear, or read a word, the easier it will be to think of it.
Reading books, listening to audiobooks and podcasts, and playing other word games can help.
Scrabble is particularly useful for expanding your vocabulary, and it complements Wordle very well.
The chances of getting Wordle right on the first try are so low that it’s not even worth attempting.
Instead, use a smart opening word like salet or slate and try to win the game in subsequent attempts.
Benjamin Levin is a digital marketing professional with 4+ years of experience with inbound and outbound marketing. He helps small businesses reach their content creation, social media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising goals. His hobbies include reading and traveling.