The 5 Best Wordle Words to Start With, Experts Say
Beat the grid with these genius game openers.
Made in 2018 by a Brooklyn-based software engineer as a gift to his word game-loving partner, Wordle came from humble beginnings. Yet in 2021, all of that changed as Wordle skyrocketed to national fame and garnered hundreds of thousands of players in a span of two months. Since being acquired by The New York Times, Wordle now has around three million current users. Among people who continue to play the game, roughly 40 percent play every day.
Of course, with such a massive following, there's no shortage of strategies out there for beating the grid—and if you play the game yourself, you may be wondering how to put each guess to good use. Experts say there are a few words that will start your game off on the right foot every time. Read on to learn the five best first Wordle words, according to game experts, computer scientists, and The New York Times itself.
The 5 Best First Wordle Words
One top Wordle strategy involves identifying which vowels the word contains before narrowing down the consonants. In order to make the most of your first guess, you can try words that maximize unique vowels, without repeating any letters. You'll gain the most information by aiming for three- to four-vowel words.
In fact, The New York Times says "adieu" and "audio"—two words that employ this strategy—are the most popular starting words. However, some other, less common examples include "auloi," the plural word for a Greek woodwind instrument similar to an oboe, and "louie," a type of ice-skating turn.
You should feel free to get creative and make it your own while taking into consideration how likely the letter placement is to be correct. For instance, a word is more likely to end in an E than an I.
Another strategy is to focus on letters that are most popularly used in the English language.
"I always start with 'stare' because it seems to cover many of the most commonly used letters," says Jon Freeman, PhD, a clinical psychologist, neuroscience researcher, and founder of the gaming store The Brooklyn Strategist. "If I don't get any letters correct, I always use 'cloud' as my second choice as a way of trying to cover as many vowels as possible."
An analysis by Reader's Digest corroborates that the letters in "stare" are some of the most frequently used—in fact, all five letters fall in the top ten most common letters in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary.
If you play Wordle in hard mode, it's especially important that you use common letters in your first word. That's because the rules of this more challenging mode dictate that once you've guessed a letter correctly, you have to use it in your subsequent guesses.
To find your perfect starting word, play around with different variations on the top ten most popular letters. Some common choices include "slate," "least," "tonal," and "atone."
However, according to data scientist Robert McKeon Aloe, PhD, the most effective and efficient word of the bunch is "raise," which includes the top four most common letters—in order of popularity, E, A, R, and I—as well as the eighth most common letter, S.
As people became more interested in Wordle strategies, The New York Times responded by creating WordleBot, a companion tool that analyzes and critiques your guesses so you can learn from your victories and mistakes. Using artificial intelligence, the tool can also solve Wordle on its own and analyze its own data.
The Times reports that when WordleBot plays in normal mode, the tool is able to guess the word of the day using the fewest number of guesses when it begins with the word "crane."
And according to Forbes, people are beginning to catch on. Roughly 25 percent of Wordle players use "crane" as their first word.
For more insider tips sent directly to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Stanford-educated math and computer science expert Grant Sanderson posted an epic answer to the question of which word you should guess first in the game of Wordle. Using a principle of information theory known as entropy, Sanderson created his own algorithm to rapidly test different permutations of guesses for their efficiency.
While his initial algorithm found that the word "crane" was the best first Wordle word, a minor tweak to the algorithm revealed that, in fact, another word was preferable. That word is "salet," a little-known spelling variation on the word "sallet," a type of medieval helmet.
However, he notes in a YouTube video that the more familiar words "trace" and "crate" give "almost an identical performance, and each of them has the benefit of obviously being a real word, so there is one day when you get it right on the first guess since both are actual Wordle answers."