Word has taken the internet by storm, and it seems like everyone and their mom is trying to win the online game on a daily basis. In fact, it’s now so popular that The New York Times just bought it for a seven-figure sum.
So unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of it and seen countless posts flooding your Twitter feed with Wordle scores. But knowing it and playing it is not the same as beating it daily, which is a much more arduous task.
The essence of the game is simple: every day there is a new five-letter word and you have six tries to guess it. After you enter the word of your choice, the letters will turn green, yellow, or gray. If it’s green, the letter is in the right place; if it’s yellow, it’s there but it’s not in the right place; and if it is gray, then the letter is not included in the word. Seems pretty easy, right?
But whether you’re a Wordle pro or a newbie, it can still be a challenge to minimize the amount of guesswork, and if you’re the competitive type, you’ll want to get it done in three or four tries at the most. And that’s where one of Wordle’s best opening words can help.
Best Wordle Starter Words – Most Popular Letters
While it’s always helpful to keep some general Wordle tips in mind, such as avoiding words with repeated letters, the core of a good strategy is using the correct initial word.
At this point, you probably already have your initial word, but did you arrive at it through the use of an algorithm or statistics, or just through intuition? For many of you it will be the latter, but it turns out that math can help us determine the optimal Wordle start words.
Before we dive into the word list, let’s break down the science behind it. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that it’s a good idea to use letters that occur most frequently in English. For example, you are more likely to see an “A” in the word than a “Z”. Of course, you can just guess which letters might be the most common, but knowing the numbers never hurts, especially if you’re a competitive player.
In a research paper on English letter frequency countsGoogle Research Director Peter Norvig analyzed data from Google Books to compile a list of the most commonly used letters in the English language. Their findings concluded that the letters “E”, “T” and “A” were the first three, while “J”, “Q” and “Z” were the least common.
Here is the top 10:
While this list shouldn’t be treated as gospel to Wordle, it still makes it easy to understand the pattern behind the best Wordle startup words.
So what are the best Wordle starter words?
Recently TikTok User @crvlwanek he used his knowledge of computer science to develop an algorithm to determine what the best starting Wordle words really are. After compiling a list of all the answers above and analyzing how often each letter appears, he calculated Wordle’s five optimal starter words to be:
- TO ALTER
However, it should be noted that since they are determined using all the answers above, they are very likely to change over time.
If you’re not the type to feel comfortable deciding to use the same word every day, you can think of any variations that use the 10 most frequent letters, like:
Then, after removing several letters, you can make your life easier and increase your chances of winning in three turns by following up with a word that can help you remove the most common letters:
The next thing to note is that even though there are only 2,315 answers in Wordle’s headword list, it accepts 12,972 words as guesses.
With that in mind, another analysis, by the programmer and game designer Tyler Glaiel on Medium, used all the possible solutions in Wordle’s word list, and then assigned each letter a score of 0, 1, or 2 depending on whether it was included or not, and whether it was in the correct place. After checking all 12,972 words, the algorithm determined that the best starting options are:
For reasons too complex to go into here, Glaiel concludes that ROUTE is the best Wordle starter word if you want to rule out possible answers as quickly as possible. However, because ROATE doesn’t actually appear on Wordle’s list of possible answers, you’ll never get a 1/6 with it. For that reason, Glaiel recommends starting with INCREASE.
Our own choice? Well, we’ve been very successful with STAREwhich uses the three most common letters, plus a couple of others from the top 10. Either way, any of these options should increase your success rate.
Of course, the opening words can only take you so far. If you’re like me, then just one Wordle a day is not enough. In case it sounds too close to home, you can always dive into our guide to how to play Wordle several times a day and hone your skills for tomorrow’s game. We have also compiled a list of best wordle alternatives in case the original game is too easy or too tame for your liking.