The Real Reason Wordle Removed A Word As An Answer

The May 9 edition of the popular online game Wordle had a predestined surprise for players, but it was altered just in the nick of time before it could stir a major controversy. The solution for Monday's Wordle was originally supposed to be the word 'fetus,' The New York Times told CNN, but it was quietly changed to 'shine.' The publication, which now owns the game, wrote in a statement that some users may see a word that "seems closely connected to a major recent news event," without actually naming it. 

For the unaware, solutions to daily Wordle quizzes are pre-decided and saved in a database well in advance of their final publish date. When The New York Times purchased rights to the game, it made a few changes to the solution database by removing potentially problematic five-letter words such as lynch and slave. However, the seemingly non-controversial word that is 'fetus' was left as such. But after being flagged last week, the team that now runs the word puzzler decided to change it and update the solution bank. 

However, the word 'fetus' would still appear to users as a solution to Monday's quiz if they haven't refreshed their Wordle browser tab. Moreover, it is worth noting here that folks who downloaded the entire Wordle database to play it as an offline game on their PC for the next half decade will also get 'fetus' as a solution since the entire answer set has been saved locally on their computer. 

Why was the latest Wordle solution axed?

The term fetus has been a topic of hot debate lately in the wake of the leaked Supreme Court draft for the Roe vs Wade case which has stirred a controversy over abortion rights across the country. With the nation in heated dialogue over the sensitive issue, the word 'fetus' potentially placed Wordle at the center of a major controversy. The New York Times, on the other hand, wanted to keep the game separate from such a discourse given its origin and purpose.

The puzzle game was created as an act of love by its maker Josh Wardle. Ever since the story came to public knowledge, Wordle achieved a whole new meaning than just a game that kept people engaged at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The game's new owner clearly wants to retain that vibe by removing a word that could prove to be a source of distress and trauma among its player base that will be directly affected by the potential change to previously ruled laws on abortion rights.