Another Word on Wordle

In an earlier post, I wrote of my delight with the word-game called Wordle, which is daily published on the website of the New York Times ( The game is to guess the secret word. It allows six guesses of five letter words, and flags any correctly guessed letter, and flags whether the position is correct.

Several factors to weigh when making guesses are, first, to eliminate as many letters as possible, and, second, to eliminate more frequent letters first.

Eliminating the frequently appearing letters first narrows the possibilities swiftly enough to allow remaining guesses to eliminate anagrams.

Nothing is more frustrating than knowing all the letters of the secret word, but lacking position clues to know whether it is UPSET rather than SETUP, SPOON rather than SNOOP, or UNLIT rather than UNTIL.

So I previously had a set of favorite guesses I used to eliminate frequent letters first: STARE, LINGO, DUCHY, ABAMP, WAKFS, which eliminated all but VZXQ.

I was disenchanted when I was unable to guess correctly between MOXIE and MOVIE, and so lost a game. I cried my despair to the uncaring clouds above. More expert players fleered and mocked at my despair, haughty noses held aloft.

So I said farewell to my beloved Duchy of Staring Lingo, and tried another combination: STRAW, LIMEN, DUCHY, BEFOG, KOPJE.

This was better, but notice how many duplicated letters still appear!

It is theoretically possible to guess five words in English that cover 25 letters of the alphabet, but only if you have an uncommon vocabulary:

NYMPH WALTZ FJORD GUCKS VIBEX, for example, leaves only Q.

Imagine my surprise when I had a game were all letters thus guessed were eliminated, save only E and U. I am unduly proud that I was able to solve that game, because I happened to know the only five letter word in English that contains E and U and does not contain ABCDFGHIJKLMNOPRSTVWXY or Z.

Another thorough guesswork is KEMPT BRUNG CYLIX WAQFS VOZHD.

This leaves only J, which is, statistically, the least likely letter to appear in any five letter word in English.

Cylix is not the Roman number for one hundred sixty ten or something: it is a two-handled Hellenic drinking bowl. If you think this word is too obscure, you can guess XYLIC, which means related to or derived from xylene, an odiferous and transparent flammable fluid.

Vibex is a Latin word for a weapon bruise, also used as a medical term for subcutaneous bleeding. Waqfs is Muslim legal term for land endowment as almsgiving. Vozhd is a Russian chieftain.  I am surprised the game accepts these as legitimate English words, but it does.

Now, this leaves one with only a single guess for anagrams, which is frustrating.

So I am experimenting with arrangements to group the words with frequent letters into my first two or three guesses, without necessarily covering 25 letters.

Currently a tactic that seems promising is to guess ZINCS VETCH FJORD PLUMP GAWKY, which eliminates all but X and Q, but still only leaves a single guess to eliminate anagrams.

Also promising is STICK WEAMB PROXY FLUNG VOZHD, which leaves only J and Q.

I have also had great success when my first two guesses are SAINT followed by COERL. Since coerl is an archaic spelling of churl, these two guesses appeal to my sense of medieval completeness, since saints are the least churlish of mortals, it covers all human types. I also find that my odds of getting at least one green tile out of my first two guesses goes up tremendously with these two guesses.

Likewise, with SOARE (an archaic word for for a young hawk) and CLINT (a hard or flinty cliff), usually followed by DUMPY.

I pass these words along to any fan of Wordle wishing to try them.