Wordle, the online word game, kickstarted a craze back in 2021 and for many, it provided a welcome distraction from the pandemic. For the uninitiated, here’s how it works: Players have five tries to guess a five-letter word, with each guess telling them whether they got some of the letters right. Guess snack, for example, and Wordle might tell you the S, A, and K are in the right place. Given that, you’d be well on your way to guessing shark.
But there’s a new wrinkle to Wordle. According to The New York Times, which purchased the game from creator Josh Wardle in January 2022, a new Wordle editor has recently been installed, and that might affect how you play the game.
Wordle’s editor, Tracy Bennett, uses what the paper calls a “Times-curated word list” as a source of answers. But unlike previous iterations of Wordle, Bennett appears to be using the zeitgeist to help choose words.
As Lifehacker points out, the game is now using themes. For example, Bennett picked feast as the answer for November 24, Thanksgiving day. November 23’s answer was drive, a nod to what people tend to be doing in order to be with family the day prior to the holiday. In other words—or other Wordles—what’s happening in our culture could provide a clue as to the correct term on a given day.
“I'm still choosing words in a kind of arbitrary way, but also in a well-informed way,” Bennett told Ars Technica. “I would call it intuitive, but it's really based on years of experience working with words from other puzzles.”
It may also help for players to know the week’s previous answers. “[The answers are] varied lexically and semantically,” Bennett said. “I don't want to have a week's worth of nouns, and I don't want to have a week's worth of words that start with A, that sort of thing.”
Gone, too, might be words that don’t necessarily weave their way in and out of conversation easily. One recent answer, parer, was critiqued for being too obscure.
If you’re stumped, it may be a good idea to look around and see what’s happening. Come December 25, the answer probably won’t be as obvious as Santa, but it could be jolly.
[h/t The New York Times]