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Media Meltdowns

More Like Turdle

A phone with Wordle on it
Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images

Spoiler alert: This blog is going to spoil today’s Wordle puzzle, if you haven’t done it already.

By any of the varyingly dubious reckonings I saw within 10 seconds of half-assedly Googling around this morning, there are at the very least many thousands of five-letter words in the English language, if not tens of thousands, if not perhaps more than a hundred thousand. All of them, at least in their written form, are wrought out of the same set of five vowels (and sometimes Y) and 21 consonants. Not a lot to choose from. That implies, I think, that a lot of them will be pretty similar, spelling-wise.

Once you account for the absolute necessity that the word include at least one of those five (and sometimes Y) vowels, you can see the problem: The more words there are, the fewer ways a new word can differ from any of perhaps dozens of others. For Wordle, the online logic puzzle game that gives you six tries to guess a five-letter word, eliminating unused letters with each guess, this means that there must be many words that suck mega shit as solutions.

“Tight” is a fine word, like, as a word. “Tight” as a Wordle word is like spitting into players’ faces. There is basically no way to logic your way to “tight” in six guesses: Even if you get the “ight” part of it within the first two guesses (incredibly unlikely, if like many players your standard approach is to try to narrow down the vowels and common consonants first), you’d be insane to use one of your four remaining guesses on the possibility of a double T before you’d eliminated “light” and “right” and “might” and “fight” and “night” and “sight” and, what the hell, probably even “wight.” If the Wordle word of the day is “tight,” the absolute only way to win at Wordle that day is by getting lucky. That’s a pain in the ass!

A funny bug of Wordle, or perhaps it’s a feature, is that when a word like this comes up you can’t help but feel cheated, like somebody just beat you at Street Fighter with nothing but leg-sweeps and throws. Bullshit!, you want to yell, as it turns out that the word was “spare” instead of “scare” or “stare” or “share” or “snare,” even though all Wordle did was to simply pick one of the five-letter words of the English language. Even when you (luck into) (luckily) getting it right (undeservedly) (through no particular skill or cleverness of your own) on that day, you can come away feeling acutely bullshitted.

However, it’s important to be reasonable about this. There are indeed lots of five-letter words in the English language! But still there are only so many, and the language is not exactly sprouting a new one every three seconds. Wordle uses a different word each day; to never use any of the bullcrap words with overlapping spellings would doom Wordle to repetitiveness. Moreover, restricting the pool of words to only those meeting some arbitrary ease requirement would be patronizing. Condescending. Insulting! It is important to demand respect from your online puzzles, and to appreciate it when and where you find it.

These are all the things I told myself this morning, as a soothing alternative to frisbeeing my motherfucking phone into the motherfucking oven over today’s Wordle. “Parer”?! Get the fuck out of my face with “parer.” What a bunch of total bullshit. I’m going to find whoever is in charge of Wordle and take a dump in their shoe.