Wordling for a Whole Year

Time sure flies. Last March, I had just learned how to play Wordle. I wrote a couple of columns about it, sharing what little I knew. A year later, I feel like an old pro at the “guess the mystery word” game, though sometimes I still get stumped.

I love to hear other players’ strategies. Some start with the same word, or even the same two words, every day. They pick a vowel-heavy first word—“adieu,” for instance–and then a consonant heavy second word that contains an “o” and four common consonants–“sloth” is a good one–and move on from there. I resist that strategy because it’s boring, kind of like eating the same thing for breakfast every morning. I just start with whatever five letter word strikes my fancy. Hey…it could even be “fancy,” which contains two vowels if you count “y.” Two of my favorite winning words from the past year are “nymph” and “tryst,” neither of which has a vowel other than “y.”

Some of my other favorite words, for no particular reason other than that I love words are: “epoxy,” “frock,” “howdy,” “ionic,” “kiosk,” “smelt,” “snout,” “usurp,” “zesty” and—last but not least–the ONLY two times “qu” has been used all year: “squad” and “squat.”  They didn’t even use “queen” when Queen Elizabeth died.

Wordle creators have also chosen some obscure words, words that I successfully solved for but seldom, if ever, use. I know that “chard” is a type of beet but I don’t eat it or talk about it. And what the heck is “trice” (not to be confused with “twice”)? It’s a brief space of time. “Impel” means to force someone to do something, but I’ve always used “compel” for that. I’m embarrassed to confess I solved “rupee,” but didn’t know it was the basic monetary unit of India until I looked it up in the dictionary.

Then there are the words that defeated me: “cacao” (though I love chocolate),“ piety” (which, unfortunately, I sometime lack), “judge” (I used up my guesses with “nudge” and “fudge,” dang the luck) and “rusty,” which is really embarrassing because it’s my brother’s name. The other four misses are words I’m still mad about because, even though they’re in the dictionary, I don’t think they should really be words: “parer” (a small sharp knife, which I’ve always called a paring knife), “gawky” (awkward), “mucky” (covered with filth) and “matey” (slang for chum or buddy). Good grief.

You might wonder how I can possibly remember all these words. Simple. I keep a Wordle notebook. Every day after I solve (or fail to solve) the puzzle, I write the winning word in it. I believe my skills have improved as the months have passed, though some days are harder than others. I’m in it to win it, but competing only against myself. I never hurry. If I solve the puzzle in two or three minutes, yay. If I have to walk away and come back later with fresh eyes, that’s okay too.

And I don’t care how many tries it takes me, as long as I solve it by the sixth. I’ve never gotten it right the first try (GENIUS! but actually just dumb luck) and rarely on the second (MAGNIFICENT!) or third (IMPRESSIVE!) tries. Four (SPLENDID!) and five (GREAT!) are my sweet spots, but I’m perfectly happy with six (PHEW!)

I haven’t yet been tempted to post my results to Facebook, though many of my friends do. I enjoy seeing their results unless the friends are the type who just can’t help but drop clues, however unwittingly. To those tempted to post comments like “Who would have thought of a word with three e’s?” or “Those words ending in ‘ing’ get me every time” or “Too many possible rhymes,” I beg you to try just a little bit harder to keep a secret.

Because the rest of us really, really, want to solve the Wordle puzzle all on our own.

(March 11, 2023)