What is Wordle? How to play the hit online word-guessing game, Wordle rules - and why is it so popular?

Here’s everything you need to know about the popular online game Wordle – including rules, how to play and why it’s so popular

Friday, 21st January 2022, 2:58 pm

Word guessing web game Wordle has taken on a life of its own since it began to boom in November and December, with millions of people around the world now thought to be enjoying the simple yet frustrating daily word puzzle game created by an American software engineer as a way to pass time during the pandemic.

Brooklyn-based software engineer Josh Wardle released Wordle for free on his website in October last year, but it has now spread far and wide, with grids of green, yellow and grey tiles littering social media timelines.

The free online word game presents players with a mystery five-letter word to figure out each day.

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Five letters, six attempts, and only one word per day: the formula for "Wordle" is simple, but for the past few weeks this online game has been stirring up social networks in the United States, and has since been adapted for a French-speaking audience. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP)

But it can only be guessed within six tries, with letters changing colour to green or yellow the closer you get to guessing each day’s ‘Wordle’.

Wordle has taken on a life of its own since it began to boom last month after sweeping across social media feeds – with some even tracking their daily Wordle results on spreadsheets or turning to linguistic theory to help them uncover each day’s new random word faster.

But what is Wordle? And why has such a simple word puzzle game become so popular online?

Here’s everything you need to know about the overwhelmingly popular online word-guessing game and how to play it.

Every new day brings a new, mystery five letter word to guess – which must be done through entering five letter words onto Wordle’s 30 tile grid. (Image credit: screengrab/wordle)

What is Wordle?

Wordle is an online word game which bears some resemblance to popular code-breaking, colour-coded board games like Mastermind, but is even more simple in its design.

Every new day brings a new, mystery five letter word to guess – which must be done through entering five letter words onto Wordle’s 30 tile grid.

The first attempt will see any tiles containing the correct letter change colour to either yellow, green or grey, prompting users to make further guesses with words containing more of the correct or partially letters to be found in the ‘wordle’ of the day.

What is Wordle? How to play the hit online word-guessing game, Wordle rules - and why is it so popular?

According to a profile of the game’s success in the New York Times, Wordle was born out of both pandemic boredom for Wardle, a social engineer who has previously designed unique social experiments for online community discussion platform, Reddit.

Wardle told the New York Times that he also sought to create something that satisfied his partner’s appreciation for puzzle games, crosswords and spelling games such as the New York Times’ popular Spelling Bee.

Launched in October, the player count quickly rose from tens of daily players guessing each word of the day, to millions by the end of the first week of the new year.

How can I play Wordle?

Wordle is freely available to play online from any device with a web browser, such as a smartphone, desktop computer or tablet at https://www.powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle/.

And while the game is more frustrating and difficult than it may first seem, Wordle’s rules are fairly straightforward.

Guesses at the ‘Wordle’ of the day have to be five letters in length and only six attempts can be made in total.

Once you’ve entered your first five letter word, hit the enter button to submit.

You will then see each letter on its tile turn to either grey, yellow or green.

If a tile turns yellow, this means that its particular letter is included in the mystery word of the day and if it turns green, the letter is included in the final word and also in the right place.

Letters on tiles which are greyed out mean that these are not included in the wordle – leaving you to figure out what the wordle is based on which letters in your previous attempt were completely correct (green) or almost right (yellow).

But British players, along with those who opt for British rather than American spellings of certain words, should be mindful of the slight differences that can occur between US and British English spellings when making their attempts to guess each daily word on Wordle.

And once you’ve tried Wordle once for the day, you won’t get to have another go.

Unlike the majority of games we’re used to playing today, which can become incredibly addictive and limitless in the pursuit to winning or finishing, Wordle can only be played once per day – with users having to patiently wait until the following day to try and guess the new word of the day in fewer attempts.

Why is Wordle so popular?

A far cry from the mobile and video games of eerily realistic graphics, notifications and frenzied animations that populate our modern world, Wordle’s appeal seems to lie predominantly in its simplicity.

With hundreds of thousands of users now jumping on to Wardle’s site every day to guess each new ‘wordle’, many users have enjoyed the simple frustrations of a game that has just one, five-letter answer for everyone and can only be played once a day – rather than consumed instantaneously or all in one go.

“It’s something that encourages you to spend three minutes a day,” Wardle told the New York Times.

“And that’s it.

"Like, it doesn’t want any more of your time than that.”

But the buzz around the game also has much to do with its current hype on social media, with many users choosing to share their daily Wordle results on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, as well as with friends.

Wordle’s simple ‘share’ button, displayed once you’ve succeeded or failed in guessing the word of the day, instantly copies results to clipboard to be copy and pasted into tweets, posts and texts as a series of grey, yellow and green squares.

@WordleStats, a Twitter bot accumulating and posting daily Wordle stats posted on Twitter, found 107,134 tweets of Wordle results on Monday, January 10 alone.

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