The Best Wordle Starting Words And Other Expert Tips

Like moths drawn to a flame, Wordle is drawing internet users, especially on Twitter, to itself. The daily word-guessing game kept a lot of us busy during the holidays, but it especially shot to fame after being featured by The New York Times. So if you're wondering, what are the best Wordle starting words, we have some research-based suggestions and other expert tips that will allow you to outwit your friends and family members in the daily word-guessing marathons.

In case you haven't been roped into the Wordle frenzy yet, it is a seemingly simple — which can also be a headscratcher on some days — online puzzle game in which you have to guess a five-letter word. There's a new word every day, The New York Times notes. You can start with a random word and make your way to the answer with the help of the colored blocks. From the word you guess, every letter that is present in the answer turns green if it's in the correct spot or turns yellow if it is present in the answer but is in the incorrect spot. On the other hand, the letter is greyed out if it is not present in the answer.

Before we go too far, make sure you're playing the web app Wordle, not the app. If you've downloaded something called Wordle, you're playing an entirely different game!

Start Wordle with a random guess

Wordle's social element is its most appealing feature. After you guess the word correctly, you get to share your results on social media (like Twitter) or through messaging apps. Since everyone is trying to guess the same word, the results are shared as colored blocks along with a score, and for anyone who hasn't played the game, that is certain to spark attention.

Now when it comes to playing Wordle, the most elementary path to victory begins with guessing a five-letter word (via The New York Times). Based on the correct letters from your guess, you guess another five and move closer to guessing the word fully. Since the only limitation is in terms of the length of the words, you can feel free to strain the mental muscle for as long as you want before guessing the next word.

But with so much technology at our disposal, your guesses can be more efficient if you use a strategy — without technically cheating. With daily Wordle practice, you must have already guessed the best way to improve your winning chance is to start with a word with five distinct letters without repeating letters and choose the next word with different letters.

Research shows the way

If you get lucky with your first word, you can land an easy win in Wordle. But if you have a patchy start, it can make the next guesses even more difficult and frustrating. So, it often boils down to which word should be your first word in Wordle. There is no straightforward answer, but there are a few analyses that help you inch closer to finding one.

Back in the 1960s, researcher Mark Mayzner studied the frequency of letters in words of different lengths (via APA). His findings, often referred to as the ETAOIN SRHLDCU series, were used to arrange letters in the hot iron printing presses, also known as linotype machines. With the evolution of digital typing, the order is no longer relevant. However, Google's Director of Research, Peter Norvig, used Mayzner's research technique to find the frequency of words by indexing data from Google Books. Norvig found E is the most common letter, followed by T, A, O, and I occupying the top five positions. The next five letters are N, S, R, H, and L.

Wordle starters per Norvig's research

While this can be a useful resource, the only problem here is that Peter Norvig's research determines this frequency using words of all lengths, his website notes. Notably, the word The, which occurs very frequently in the English language, is highly likely to influence the outcome. Besides the frequency of "the", our search for the perfect Wordle answer is limited to five-letter words. So what to do?

One approach can be to choose five-letter words using the top 10 letters from Norvig's findings. Some of the options here, therefore, can be RATIO, ROAST, or RATES (or its anagram TEARS). You can also start with words that use three or four of the top ten letters. That means, our guesses would include words like TORCH, POETS, TRAMS, TREAD, STEAK, etc.

You can use guides like this one from 7ESL to help yourself with a list of common five-letter words. One kind Quora user has also shared some of the most common anagrams of five-letter words without repeating letters. 

Experts tell us the best first word for Wordle

A few experts have hacked their ways into guessing the best possible combination of letters. Programmer Tyler Glaiel found a list of possible guesses and solutions by inspecting the source code of the Wordle website. Glaiel learned the game accepts 12,972 different words as guesses and 2,315 words as possible solutions and found out ROATE is mathematically the most optimal word to start Wordle. However, they later found the word is not included in the list of guesses, so RAISE is the "slightly less good" first word that gives you a chance to own the day's Wordle on your first try.

Needless to say, the solutions vary every time and the same solution can't work every day, as The New York Times notes, so it's best to have some alternatives. Another coder, Bertrand Fan, found the optimal word is SOARE. Meanwhile, another expert with an online alias Dr. Drang found the frequency of letters in five-letter words and found the top 10 letters to be S, E, A, R, O, I, L, T, N, and U. SOARE definitely fits the bill here but if you want to go on to try to figure out some more words, go ahead and give it a shot. 

If you still feel stuck and want to win the day's Wordle, try tools like the Anagram solver to help you bypass a mental block. Although this may count as cheating.