Wordle has taken the world by storm. For those unfamiliar with the web browser game, Wordle is a word guessing game. Board game aficionados may recognise this gameplay, as it is similar to Mastermind – but using letters instead of colours.
Players have six guesses to uncover the five letter word answer. Letters from guesses will highlight green or yellow if they are in the answer word to help guide players to the solution. In December 2021, the Wordle site had over 250k unique visitors per day (data by Semrush) and if Twitter is any indication, that number is still growing.
Players are hunting for the best Wordle starting word. Linguists have been providing us with lots of tips and tricks for the best words to try first.
Software developer Chris (online handle crvlwanek) wanted to uncover scientifically what would be the best Wordle starting word. Data science to the rescue!
The method involved extracting the complete word answer list from the Wordle website. They then developed a script to calculate the frequencies of each letter, and to score each word with the discovered frequencies.
@crvlwanek #stitch with @linguisticdiscovery Different method, similar results! #wordle #linguistics #computerscience #python ♬ original sound – Chris
The result: Later was the best Wordle starting word found by the algorithm. The other words included in the top five were alter, alert, arose and irate.
But Chis was not satisfied. They also tested another variation of the script to take in to account letter placement. Including letter placement will more likely result in a green highlighted letter, improving the chances of a quick resolution to the daily Wordle puzzle.
@crvlwanek Reply to @ponyboycubes How to optimize for green letters #wordle #softwareengineer #programming ♬ original sound – Chris
The new script found, using the sum score and the product score respectively, that slate and saint were the best words to use if also considering letter placement.
For anyone interested, Chris also discovered words least likely to bring you success in Wordle. Xylyl, imshi, and aflaj were found to be the worst starting word choices. It’s ok – I haven’t heard of those words either.
Use slate, saint, later, alter, alert, arose and irate for the optimal start to your next game of Wordle.