Welcome back to my weekday Wordle Answer Diary, where I take you step-by-step through my own Wordle puzzle efforts. In this entry, we're tackling today's Wordle #258.
For those unfamiliar with Wordle (in which case, kudos for getting here), The New York Times’ (recently-purchased) daily word game asks you to guess a five-letter word in six tries. Simple right?
If you just want to skip to today's Wordle answer, (and yes, we have a page to do just that), you can depart right now. But what would be the fun in that?
If you want to preserve your streak and learn how to get better at Wordle, you'll need to make smart choices and understand the tactics that can take you from a "Winning in Five" to a "Solved in Three" kind of Wordle player.
The guide below includes how I make my guesses and images of my work. When I make a mistake, you'll see it. Maybe it'll help you avoid some of your own.
Let's Wordle together.
Spoiler Alert: If you do not want to know today’s Wordle answer, STOP READING IMMEDIATELY.
A reader asked me this week if I always start with the same word or do I "mix it up?" As evidenced by yesterday's dream-inspired opening, I mix it up any way I can. Inspiration can come from dreams, conversations, something I read, really anywhere where the lingua franca includes five-letter English words.
Getting "MOURN" in four (Wordle #257) felt splendid. I still yearn for the solved-in-three or genius-level "got-it-in-two," but I know I used best practices to whittle down my options to a sad-sounding answer.
Seeing the words
Your biggest leap will always be that first word. I can choose any five-letter word but, generally, dismiss anything with double letters, as per our guide on how to win at Wordle.
There are two goals: Get as many correct letters in the right spots as possible and miraculously guess the word on the first try. Thus far, I've never accomplished the latter.
Getting ready for work, I start preparing to think of my first word when one pops into my head: ALIGN. It's not a special five-letter term, but has my favored balance of two vowels and three consonants.
I don't even hesitate, typing it in and hitting "Enter" in six, quick strokes.
One at a time
It's a little early to start cursing in the morning, but what the heck? One letter? Fine, it's an "A" properly placed in position one, but one letter means it would be a miracle if I guessed the right word in this next round.
At this point, I'm so desperate for more letters that I will probably try a new set of five. Remember, if I were playing in Wordle's Hard Mode I would have to use the "A."
I know, I planned on using all new letters, but I had a tiny inspiration and, even if I do reuse the "A," I get four new letter options, anyway. This way, if I happen to guess right with "ATOMS", I get Wordle in two! Listen, a Wordler can dream.
There is a risk, though, in using "ATOMS." I do not recall Wordle liking plural words, certainly not over singulars that do not rely on the "S" to make it to five letters.
I pause and rethink this strategy. "APPLE," I realize is another solid possibility. It even has that double letter Wordle so loves. So does "AWAKE," but it separates the "A's."
I also realize that Wordle might've used one of these words already, but if I search on Google for those answers, I might accidentally see today's Wordle answer. I just can't risk it.
It takes me a few beats to realize that "APPLE" is impossible. I already ruled out "L" as an included letter.
Time to commit to "ATOMS." I hit "Enter."
Smaller result than an Atom
Uh oh. That was bad. On the bright side, I've now ruled out eight letters, six consonants, and two vowels. I've made little progress on the board but do have more information to work with. Having the correct letter upfront is a big help.
A is still the key
It's pretty much a lock that the next letter after "A" is a consonant, and we have a lot of choices. "AWAKE" fits but I really worry it's been used in a previous Wordle game. If I'm wrong, it's not a great guess because I wasted a second "A" on a new letter space.
Having just two vowels left - "E" and "I" - limits my choices. There is the sometimes-vowel "Y" and that could sit neatly in the middle or end of this word.
Every once in a while, Wordle goes crazy with a double-double, meaning a word with two sets of double letters. I'm thinking of "ARRAY."
AWAKE or ARRAY, which way do I go?
In the end, I try ARRAY.
Clearly, I have no idea what I'm doing. I've got two "A's" but only managed to eliminate "R" and "Y."
Slow it down
Rushing is not working. I've decided to take a quick break to think about what I have.
I highly recommend virtually Wordling in the shower. It's the perfect place to play out possible word combinations. On the other hand, I still have no idea what word to enter.
Clearly, I'm looking for a consonant right after that initial "A," but the combination of "PH" is not going to work. "APHA" goes nowhere.
"AQUA" combination seems promising, but there's no remaining letter that will make an English language word. Even "APEA" gets me nowhere without that "R" to place at the end.
I need more letters and realize it's time for a new word so I can collect more letters and eliminate some, as well. There is no way I'm getting this in less than five now.
I resort to making a word that has four new letters and one eliminated one. It also reflects how I feel.
Four guesses in and I have three letters ("A" counts twice). Can you spell "disaster?"
Of course, the answer smacks me right between the eyes. I'm pretty sure there isn't another word that can accommodate "AH_A_" when you have only one other vowel left, "E," and ten consonants to choose from.
I move "AHEAD" with my guess.
Yes, right, "Great!" Maybe that should've been obvious to me sooner but sometimes you just can't see it.
Don't be like me. Get it in four, or three.
See you next week.