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The 20 best Wordle starting words, according to science and linguistics

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Wordle continues to dominate social media platforms across the globe. Despite the game’s unrivaled simplicity, players continue to ask one question: What is the single most effective starter word to solve every puzzle? We’ve examined this subject via our own tips and mathematics in the past, but now computer scientists and linguists are starting to join in on the debate. Even though some of the mainstay options continue to pop up, there are a few interesting new discoveries worth noting.

This time our Wordle tips arrive courtesy of two seemingly disparate schools of thought in the fields of linguistics and computer science. On the grammar side of the equation, TikTok’s linguisticdiscovery offers his own insight, while fellow TikTok creator and software developer crvlwanek digs deep into the game’s data. Here’s a quick recap of the most interesting facts and strategies offered by both qualified players.

The linguists approach via linguisticdiscovery

Independent of Wordle’s internal data linguisticdiscovery offers a strategy focused on the frequency at which certain letters appear in the English language. In theory, he feels that if players use words that feature lots of common letters, they’ll be able to reach the solution faster.

Despite their general effectiveness, no verified starter word can be an instant path to success in Wordle.

Josh Wardle
  • Words like TEARS and STARE are noted to be pretty effective and worthy of keeping in mind.
  • His professionally recommended starter word is IRATE. This is because E, A, and I, are noted to be the most common vowels, with T and R serving as the most common consonants. With those objective facts in mind, he feels that a word that features so many common letters will inch you toward the daily Wordle the fastest.

The computer science approach via crvlwanek

Given Wordle’s digital nature, it’s no surprise that software developers of all skill levels are hard at work trying to make their version of the very best Wordle solver algorithm. We’ve featured a few of them on our list of five free Wordle tools, but crvlwanek has spent quite a bit of time merging similar work with the simplicity of TikTok.

SLATE has proven to be an effective starter word for us in the past, and it’s verified by algorithms.

Josh Wardle

His algorithm follows a similar design pattern to the tools we’ve discussed in the past. Working from Wordle’s known list of around 12,972 potential guesses, his script calculates how often each letter appears in the set and scores each individual answer based on their inclusion of popular letters. Here’s what his formula found out.

  • His top-five verified starter words are LATER, ALTER, ALERT, AROSE, and IRATE. So, surprisingly or not, there was at least partial agreement between linguists and computer scientists on the effectiveness of “irate.”
  • Despite being popular, ADIEU is noted to be a bad starter word with low entropy and the possibility for success.
  • When scored via entropy, the best starting words are SOARE, ROATE, RAISE, RAILE, and REAST. These words mirror Tyler Glaiel’s discoveries, which were featured in our math-based solutions article.
  • The best words featured on Wordle’s answer list include SLATE, SAUCE, SHALE, SAUTE, and SHARE. These words mirror those used by Mahmood Hikmet in his Unwordle solver tool.
  • SAINT, SLICE, SOOTY, CRANE, and SAUCE are valuable guesses as well based on their product score in the algorithm as opposed to using the sum.

While no single starter word can instantly put you on a fast track to Wordle supremacy every single time, these bolded words might offer a good place to begin your journey. You could always play using everyday language as the game’s developer likely intends, but, for those who want a mathematical, scientific, or linguistic solution, this is certainly one way to go.

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