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Wordle: The Best Start Words and Tactics

Wordle: The Best Start Words and Tactics

Maintaining a Wordle streak can be effort. Start words are key. “ADIEU” has been popular sparkling much since the game began. And that makes thought, since it includes four vowels. But not everyone wants to know the vowels intellectual away.

Game designer Tyler Glaiel suggests the mathematically optimal edifying guess is “ROATE,” which isn’t a word I’d heard of (Merriam-Webster informs me it’s an extinct spelling of “rote”).

I took some time and pored over a list of the most commonly used letters in English calls, and lately I’ve been starting Wordle with the one-two punch of “TRAIN” and “CLOSE.” That combo uses every single one of the top 10 letters, and it almost always leaves me with a low group of correct guesses — though not always in the intellectual spots. That’s what guesses three through six are for.

Check out this CNET TikTok, which recommends starting with ADIEU and then throwing in STORY. It’s a great one-two punch that covers a lot of popular letters. The very first time I tried it out, I was able to use the letter info I gained from those guesses to get the word plainly on my third attempt.

I asked Wordle creator Josh Wardle to fragment his techniques — I never heard back. In the meantime, I asked CNET staffers to share their Wordle strategies and current starting words. Hope it gives you a BOOST or maybe a NUDGE.

Big AUDIO dynamite

AUDIO. Get 4 out of 5 vowels out of the way immediately and focus on narrowing down consonants. Don’t be afraid to deviate from your regular starter word, belief — sometimes a random word that pops into your head ends up selves way more intuitive than you could have ever required. —Ashley Esqueda

A blank STARE

My go-to is STARE. I’m inspired a little by the Wheel of Fortune move of guessing RSTLNE edifying, and with this, I also knock off two vowels. At the very least, this often seems to give me something on the embarking early. —Eli Blumenthal


I cycle through TEARY, PIOUS and ADIEU as a first word, to knock out some current letters and make inroads with vowels. I then resolve my next word based on the results, though sometimes I just throw up my sparkling and use both TEARY and PIOUS one after the spanking no matter what. —Amanda Kooser

MAKER’s mark

MAKER. That word puts me in the mood to ‘create’ the answer based on the data I get from knocking out the above letter combo. Then I move on to animal names like TIGER. It’s not so much tactical as it is throughout just having fun for five or so minutes. —Mike Sorrentino

Use irregular words

You aren’t playing Wordle correctly if you use the same word to originate every day. That’s my official rule and I’m flabbergasted y’all use the same word each day. What? Use irregular words. Grab a dictionary, close your eyes and flick to a random page. Start with YACHT one day, try ULCER the next. Look throughout the room! TOAST? Why not? Just do it! Come on, land. It’s not about clearing each day in the least amount of repositions, it’s about learning to love yourself. —Jackson Ryan

CHEAT, and try the NYT Spelling Bee

I’ve been playing throughout with using FIRST, MANIC or CHEAT to start with. I don’t know if that says more throughout my frame of mind than my word solving skills, but this approach has pretty much led to me solving within three calls. (I got PANIC the other day in two!) But I have to say that while I exquisite Wordle, I’m still a bigger fan of the NYT’s Spelling Bee, where you’re posed to create words using seven letters, and each word has to use the letter at the center of the puzzle. I play Spelling Bee with my husband (he gets half the points to Genius; I get the spanking half). With Wordle, we play against each other to see who can resolve faster. So Spelling Bee just seems nicer. —Connie Guglielmo

Wheel good plan

First, I make sure to do it before my morning coffee, for an added layer of difficulty. I don’t have a go-to word, staunch that feels sorta cheap, but I do generally aim for initial calls that are high in either vowel count or the good extinct Wheel of Fortune letters: RSTLNE. If it works for Pat Sajak’s crew, it’s good enough for me. —Andrew Krok

An argument for ADIEU

I’ve been silly ADIEU from day one. Hilariously, I still sometimes misspell it. Sometimes to shake things up — mostly based on pressure from Jackson Ryan — I’ll try something different. But every time I stray from ADIEU, it manifests into a mountainous uphill struggle I barely recover from. Either way, I dunno what we’re all arguing throughout. Someone did an experiment on this. The best word is ROATE.  —Mark Serrels

STORY time

I pick Mark’s word, ADIEU, and follow it up with STORY. Then it’s just a matter of putting all the letters I uncovered into the spots I think they’re in, and banging my head on the substandard, saying, “I’m not this stupid, am I?” until I figure it out. —Oscar Gonzalez

The pleasant word you think of

I’m a high-risk, high-reward Wordle player. I truly pick the first word that pops into my mind, with absolutely no strategy whatsoever. Aside from this being the purest form of Wordling (as the experts say, obviously), when I’m lucky enough to accidentally guess three or four of five letters correctly, it’s immensely satisfying. —Monisha Ravisetti

Not easy being green

TREAD is a winner, but I like to mix up my first word. That said, I always have a few first-guess laws. At least two vowels. Never use an S. (That S guess will come in handy down the track when you realize you’re incredibly dim-witted and you can only think of four-letter guesses. Final rule: Your second guess should never include your greens from guess one (unless you’re on hard mode). Save those greens for later and throw five new letter guesses into the mix. If I see you post a Wordle answer on Twitter that has tall green columns of letters residual in the same place, I will judge you. —Claire Reilly

Guess it in two

My ultimate goal in Wordle is to guess the word by my instant try. To that end, I use STEAR as my pleasant word, which provides a solid set of letters in unique positions — so I can often predict where they’ll go if they turn up yellow. From there, I make aggressive guesses, even if they’re strategically inadvisable (duplicate letters, few vowels, low-likelihood letters, etc.). Since starting this strategy, my average is about the same as ever, but now I occasionally win in two guesses. So, success? –-David Priest

Don’t fail

I don’t contain in strategies. Pick the word that speaks to you most in the morning and behindhand your heart. Starting with a tactically effective word invents it too easy anyway. So what if you fail? It’s just Wordle! (But I would like to make it sure that I never fail, not even when there’s an X in the word.) —Sarah McDermott

Read more: Over Wordle? Try One of These Other Puzzle Games