Top 4 starting words, according to NYT

Key Takeaways

  • The New York Times has an official Wordle cohost, Wordlebot, that recommends different starting words.
  • Wordlebot analyzes your performance and provides overall scores and recommendations for improvement.
  • Picking a good starting word is crucial in maximizing your performance in Wordle.

If you’re anything like me, your morning routine includes brushing your teeth, checking the weather and waking up with Wordle.

The continually popular New York Times puzzle has kept our attention since launching in 2021. Originally a pet project by Welsh software engineer Josh Wardle, the vocabulary guessing game was bought by the Times for a seven-figure sum in 2022 and has lived there ever since.

But one of the biggest arguments people have is the best way to start your word-guessing journey. It’s a deeply personal decision, but the facts are there are more effective words than others. If you kick off your Wordle with something like “qajag” (a type of kayak), you might not make it far.

The New York Times has an official online Wordle cohost, Wordlebot, that recommends different starting words for users. We’ve listed those exact words below and explained everything you need to know about playing Wordle and using Wordlebot for those of you who are new to the game.


What is Wordle and why is everyone talking about it?

You may have noticed that your Twitter feed has been filling up with green and yellow tiles as of late, but what is it all about?


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What are Wordle and Wordlebot?

Wordle is a browser-based word guessing game that exploded in popularity in 2021 and came to the New York Times in early 2022.

You can play it either on the New York Times games app or on the web, with no subscription necessary to play. When you begin, you’ll see a grid of spaces five wide and six tall. The goal is to guess a five-letter English word in six tries or less. Each failed guess gives you information to build on for your next guess. The word is the same for all players around the world for 24 hours, and changes daily.

After acquiring Wordle, the New York Times introduced Wordlebot in spring 2022. It’s available online through a web browser for all users, but having a Times account allows it to track your progress and give more detailed recommendations.

Wordlebot analyzes your completed Wordle puzzles in order to provide you with overall scores for both luck and skill on a scale from 0 to 99. It also details what you could’ve done differently during turns. Wordlebot has its own dictionary of about 4,500 words that it believes players could reasonably guess, and it assigns each of those words the probability of being a solution, according to The New York Times’ blog post. It then compares your performance to the best possible solution as well as an average of other users.

The paper pushes upgrades to Wordlebot pretty regularly, including recommending new starting words. Picking a good starting word makes a huge difference, so if you really want to maximize your performance this is a great way to do it.



What is the best Wordle starting word?

When Wordlebot launched, it recommended Wordle users on regular mode start with the word CRANE, as it incorporated several commonly-used consonants and vowels. In mid-August, it updated that to SLATE. The most recent change, on Jan.10, 2024, now has TRACE as the most reliable pick for reducing your guesses. If you’re on hard mode, which adds additional restrictions to your guesses, the recommended word is now TROPE. Those four words, along with CRATE, LEAST and SLANT, are all viable.

Wordle starting words


What’s the best Wordle strategy?

For such a simple-looking game, there is a deceptive amount of strategy to succeeding at Wordle.

Just guessing will see you eating up your six guesses before you know it. A good starting word is the cornerstone of your strategy. It should allow you to refine your guesses by incorporating the most common letters in the English language – E, T, A, O, I, N, S, R, H, and L. Positioning is also important, with the most useful words separating the two vowels with a consonant.

For your second guess, it’s important to have a fallback word that uses as many popular letters as you can without repeating any. You not only want to come to a solution as quickly as you can, but also eliminate possibilities. There’s a mathematical logic to using your guesses efficiently.

The most important thing to remember is that Wordle is not entirely a vocabulary game. Although there are nearly 13,000 five-letter words in the English language, the actual database of potential Wordle answers is much smaller. It’s been said that the original answer pool was 2,315 words, which was reduced to 2,309 after the Times purchase to remove British spellings and a few risqué terms. Since then, more words have been added, with Wordlebot now considering 3,200 unique terms including slang like “MERCH” and foreign loan words like “BARRE.”

Interested in playing Wordle alternatives?

If you’re getting burned out with Wordle or just can’t wait 24 hours in between sessions, there are similar free word games out there that can take up your time. The Times has additional free games, including a mini crossword and Spelling Bee, that can scratch that Wordle itch. There are also a number of innovative Wordle spin-offs like the Encyclopedia Britannica’s Octordle, which sees you trying to solve eight words at once.

We’ve put together a fun list of alternatives to bookmark:


Games like Wordle: 10 Wordle alternatives and spinoff word games

While you wait for the next Wordle to drop, you can feed your addiction to word games by playing one of many Wordle alternatives.  


Disclaimer : The content in this article is for educational and informational purposes only.