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What’s the Best ‘Wordle’ Starting Word?

A woman plays Wordle on its official website on her iPhone. The word game developed by Josh Wardle has become the most recent social media and pop culture phenomenon.
Tada images/Shutterstock.com

If you’re anything like us here at Review Geek, you’ve probably become addicted to playing Wordle , the word-guessing game. And despite its simple premise, the six-guesses-or-you’re-out rule means choosing a strong starting word is imperative, so we figured we’d round up the best starting words for the game.

The strategic game is a fun way to engage and test your brain for a few minutes each day and low-key compete to be the smartest person in your friend group, so it’s no surprise that it’s skyrocketed in popularity recently. If you haven’t started playing Wordle yet, we recommend you learn how to play, because it’s a ton of fun. If you’ve been playing it, however, and are now wondering what the best five-letter word is to start with, we have lots of suggestions for both words and overall strategy.

How to Choose the Best Starting Word for Wordle?

If you, there are a few tips and tricks you should consider before you start your next Wordle puzzle. These can help optimize your chances of winning (or winning faster, if you’re competitive like us).

No Repeating Letters

If you repeat a letter on your first guess, you’re giving up one of five precious opportunities to test out a letter. And unless you’re psychic, you’ll want every chance you can get to hit the ground running. While this isn’t always a sure bet—the puzzle recently threw “robot” at us—the method does increase your odds.

So, skip words with repeating letters, like queue, latte, again, rests, llama, and so on. In fact, queue is probably the worst word you could start with.

Use Normal Words

The game isn’t trying to trip you up with tough, rarely-used words you’d find in the dusty corners of an old dictionary, we promise. In fact, it’s proven to spit out words that are fairly common and simple, so you won’t need to scratch your head trying to find obscure words. Don’t overthink it.

Merit symbol. Wooden cubes with the word 'merit'. Beautiful white and blue background, copy space. Business and merit concept.
Dmitry Demidovich/Shutterstock.com

Channel Your Inner Wheel of Fortune

That’s right—when you think about it, Wheel of Fortune wasn’t so different from Wordle. In the final little puzzle of each episode, the game automatically filled in any instances of the five most common consonants and the most common vowel: R, S, T, L, N, E.

Given how common those letters are, you can easily hedge your bets by using any word that features a good chunk of these. Some examples include rents, slate, stare, stone, learn, snare, steam, tares, sired, risen, earns, rales, and tears.

Use the Vowel Method

Some serious word game enthusiasts swear by the vowel method. By choosing a word with more than two vowels, you’ll quickly gain a better grasp of what that day’s word may look like. Vowels often flesh out the middle of a word, too, which can be telling. Vowels can also bunch together in some cases, which can narrow down the list of possible words super quickly.

If you opt for this route, consider one of these vowel-heavy options, like adieu (one of our favorite picks for the game), aegis, raise, stoae, atone, audio, auloi, irate, arise, ouija, weary, vague, and canoe.

Use a Mix of Common and Uncommon Letters

This option can potentially be more of a gamble, but if you get lucky, it can also have big payoffs. By selecting a word with a mix of common letters and uncommon letters—think G, P, V, B, H, and Y—you can potentially nail down a less-common word you probably wouldn’t have thought of with any of these other methods (the game did use “Proxy” recently, which threw many for a loop).

The downside of this method is that it is never a guarantee. It can end up burning up a few of your precious guesses, which isn’t at all what we want! We’ve had success starting with words with common letters (aka the Wheel of Fortune method) and then building out to words with some uncommon picks.

Price Word Written In Wooden Cube
Sinart Creative/Shutterstock.com

Avoid Words with Multiple Rare Letters

This one should be obvious, but we’ll include it for the sake of being thorough. Don’t choose words with lots of rare letters. So, no pizza, yummy, jaffa, oxbow, jujus, kudzu, affix, unzip, askew, fuzzy, immix, or xylyl (you know you were thinking it).

What is the Statistically Best Wordle Starting Word?

Alright, if you don’t want to spend all that time guessing and trying out different methods every day, we can (probably) help save you some time and frustration by simply telling you the statistically optimal first guess. One smart cookie—Tyler Glaiel—actually sat down and did the math here.

He found both of the actual word lists that Wordle uses by digging around in the game’s source code.  The “possible solutions” list includes 2,315 words, while the game will accept 12,972 guess words.

Glaiel, who works professionally as a programmer and game designer, ultimately ended up creating a bot to help go through the list and determine a word’s viable solution value. He found the first iteration worked pretty efficiently, finding a solution in just 3.69017 guesses. Then, he refined the code so the bot could find the solution in an average of 3.49417 guesses and a worst-case of five guesses.

After further testing, Glaiel determined that the ideal first guess is “roate.” You’re probably thinking that’s not a real word, but it totally is, and it’s defined as “the cumulative net earnings after taxes available to common shareholders, adjusted for tax-affected amortization of intangibles, for the calendar quarters in each calendar year in a specified period of time divided by average shareholder’s tangible common equity.”

So, roate is the best first guess, as Glaiel says, “if the metric you’re measuring is ‘the size of the possible solution list after a guess’.” However, keep in mind that this word only appears in the guesses list, and not the solutions list. It’s the likeliest way to land you close to an answer, but it’ll never be correct. You’ll still have to offer up at least one other guess after roate in order to win, but you’ll be optimally positioned to do so. If you want the best word that could also be a correct answer, “raise” is the best option. It actually appears in the solution list, and it’s statistically nearly as good as roate.

Hopefully, these tips make you feel better equipped to find the best first words to play in Wordle and win your next puzzle, maybe even on the first or second guess! While the game is currently only available on the web, you don’t have to play it on there—you can easily add it to your device’s home screen and play it there. Easier is better, right?

And if you’re looking for a way to play even more Wordle each day, since the game limits you to just one puzzle per day, we found some incredibly fun alternatives. Some are even available as apps, allowing you to skip having to jump online every day to begin with. Good luck!

Suzanne Humphries Suzanne Humphries
Suzanne Humphries was a Commerce Editor for Review Geek. She has over seven years of experience across multiple publications researching and testing products, as well as writing and editing news, reviews, and how-to articles covering software, hardware, entertainment, networking, electronics, gaming, apps, security, finance, and small business. Read Full Bio »