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  • Writer's pictureMatt Gordon


Updated: Feb 22, 2023

By Matt Gordon

WORDLE is an extremely popular game full of depth and drama and complexity in which a player tries to guess a five-letter word. With a plot-line like that, who can deny it? After guessing the proper word—and pretty much everyone does at some point—the real fun begins because that is when you get to the boasting. You can solve the puzzle in one or two or three or—get this—four or even five or six tries! I mean, how’s that for outcomes!?

Occasionally someone will get the word right on the very first try, and that creates an internet hubbub. I mean, how impressive is that? The sheer skill involved with picking a five-letter word of all possible five-letter words, and then spelling that word correctly, and then finding out— voila!—that is the word of the day? Does it get any better? And boy, do we celebrate when it happens. It is akin to being proud of one’s height or eye color; it just feels really, really great and an appropriate thing to shove into the realm of immense accomplishment. I think there should be a parade celebrating this feat in the person’s community and definitely a MEDAL, which, come to think of it, wouldn’t be a bad starting word.

Speaking of that, there is a lot of discussion, when it comes to WORDLE, what the best starting word is. I was going to write a post depicting how I work through a WORDLE puzzle, but my wife forbade it because of my opening word. She said it was inappropriate, but I think she was scared that I’d be flashing a pretty sizeable advantage out to the world. Since she wouldn’t let me put the word down here, I’ll choose a non-anatomical, made-up substitute at random . . . ZOOBS. There you go, ZOOBS. The stand-in word for my real starting word is ZOOBS. I like beginning with this word mostly because it is funny and it is likely that the fine folks at WORDLE—because you know there are people monitoring these things for the government or something—probably get a chuckle out of it. (And if you did somehow figure out my forbidden starting word and do take offense to it, you can text in to 80085 to offer feedback.)

If my first word doesn’t produce, I choose a second word that is similarly anatomical. Actually, my third word is too. Like Lee Ann Womack, I think it is important that we never lose our sense of wonder—that whenever one door closes, I hope that one more opens. But for some reason, we don’t live this way. Sometime post Junior High, we forfeit that sense of frivolity—the sheer and worthy delight of writing FARTS on a stranger’s dirty car and the like.

Which is why FARTS is often my fourth WORDLE selection.

If I pass on FARTS, doing what one does with an actual fart and holding it in, I like to throw out the word QUEUE. Not enough WORDLE zealots are, in British terms, minding the QUEUE, and at some point this Q is going to come back and bite them. PIQUE or QUICK or QUACK or QUADS or QUIDS. DMX said, wisely, that “X gonna give it to ya.” But I think Q is. And when the rest of the world is burning for not eliminating the Q, I’ll be boasting on social media like a QUEEN sipping a QUART of QUASS.

A word I don’t use on WORDLE is WORDLE because somehow the DOLTS who came up with the game didn’t think to name a five-letter word game with a five-letter word. While this saddens me, I PRESS on toward the PRIZE.

That prize and my goal, each time I play WORDLE, is simple. First, get the word in six tries.

Not two. Not four. Six. It allows me the most range, the most learning, and the most opportunity to type funny words on the internet. Second, no matter how I do, I want to use WORDLE as a way to validate my own intelligence and be reassured that that intelligence is deeper and wider and purer than that of the people I work with and with whom I hang out. If this means I have to fabricate some results or pretend I didn’t play on days I didn't solve the word, then so be it. Integrity is doing the right thing every time. But a lot of leadership books I haven’t read say that setting and achieving goals is the right thing to do. So it is sort of a catch-22. Which integrity do I honor in a given situation? It is one of those ethical conundrums I’ve spent my whole life lying about studying. And in this particular instant, I’ve been thinking about it so long that I didn’t find time to WORDLE yesterday. I probably would have solved it in like two if I had played because I’m pretty good at words and letters and all.

It is a real shame I didn’t have time to play.

Another thought I have while playing, conversing, writing, and obsessing about WORDLE is how likely it is that WORDLE is a front for some corrupt organization that one day is going to bring about civil unrest and possibly war by selecting a non-word one day so that no one gets to succeed and a bunch of people get caught lying about succeeding and get exposed the next day and violence and mayhem break out as a result and western society collapses on itself like a dump on a sinkhole. That would be pretty fun, too, I guess.

Also fun is if they’d pick, just once, a word I always try to work in to my guesses: UPDOG. I think it would prompt a lot of important conversations.

As you can see, I’m a pretty huge WORDLE NERDLE—that is what us superfreaks call ourselves. It is just so clear to us believers that this is not some passing trend or fad, but that WORDLE is definitely here to stay and is probably the modern equivalent of what the birth of, say, tennis or chess was whenever it was the internet invented those.

So now I must leave you, for I have a puzzle to play and those ZOOBS aren’t going to just show up on their own. Good luck and Godspeed. Or better said: ADIEU and ADIOS. May your dictionaries be open and your guesses be true.


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