Wordle's 1,000th Word Was Kind of Easy? Here Are the Best Starter Words to Use

Commentary: I still can't say adieu or get off a certain starter word train. Yes, that's a hint.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, and generational studies Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
6 min read
Musician Questlove with Wordle editor Tracy Bennett

Musician Questlove and Wordle editor Tracy Bennett pose at the Empire State Building in New York, which was lit up in Wordle colors for the 1,000th game.

Eugene Gologursky/Empire State Realty Trust/Getty Images

Wordle, the New York Times-owned online puzzle, celebrated its 1,000th game on March 15. I can't be the only Wordle player who wondered if the chosen word that day might be kind of special. Maybe super difficult, or maybe a nod to the anniversary itself, or maybe -- at long last -- the famous four-vowel word ADIEU would show up. 

Buzz, no, thank you for playing! Wordle's 1,000th answer was kind of... underwhelming? Spoiler coming, in case you want to go back in time and play the anniversary game. The 1,000th game answer was ERUPT, as in, "Dad might ERUPT with anger if he forgets to play Wordle and loses his 800-game streak."

ERUPT, by Wordle standards, is not that tough. Two vowels, plus T and R, which are among the most popular letters used in all English words. Maybe it was a little gift for players out there? I've talked before about how I almost always start by guessing TRAIN and move to CLOSE, so I had three letters after two guesses and was able to nail the 1,000th word pretty quickly.

Honestly, it was the 1,001st Wordle that should have been tougher. Spoiler again: It contained the rarely used X. I got that one quickly because "X" is the letter I use to fill in blanks when I don't know the letters. I filled in X as a placeholder, and hmm... a word emerged. I won't reveal it here, but Britney Spears fans know it well.

And no, I really don't want Wordle to pick themed answers for certain days. Think of how much of a fuss people made back in 2022 when the people behind the puzzle scrambled to replace FETUS in the heart of the Roe v. Wade decision being struck down. Random is the way to go here.

Wordle celebrates

The Times bought the game from creator Josh Wardle for seven figures in 2022. A Times spokesperson told me it lists the very first Wordle as appearing on June 19, 2021, so if your games-played streak spans from the Times 2022 acquisition, you may not have a 1,000-game streak.

To celebrate, the Empire State Building lit up in Wordle colors -- green, yellow and white. If you're in New York, you can get special treats through March 27.

I've written a lot about Wordle -- from best starter words to a helpful two-step strategy to controversial word changes. I've even rounded up what I learned playing the hit online word puzzle for a full year. But recently, I haven't been making a lot of changes to my strategy. You see, I've found a favorite Wordle starter word and I just can't give it up.


Get on the Wordle train.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

Wordle starter-word methodology is very personal. One person told me they just look around whatever room they're in and choose a five-letter object to use as their starter word -- hello, COUCH or CHAIR. Early on, I followed many Wordle players and chose ADIEU, because it told me where four vowels might be. 

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Back in 2022, the Times examined user data and found that ADIEU was one of the top five guesses, used by an average of 5% of users each day -- millions of players. But I decided it was the consonants I really needed to narrow down early. The vowels take care of themselves, mostly.


Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates loves Wordle, too, and says he and a group of friends share their daily scores to see who comes out on top. In a video, Gates shows his method of play and talks through it, and he begins with AUDIO -- very similar to ADIEU, just subbing in the O for the E. Gates may be a billionaire genius, but E shows up more in English words than O does. So really, he should choose ADIEU over AUDIO if it's vowels he wants to find.


But then I started digging into the science of letter frequency. There's a wonderfully geeky explanation on Reddit about why ROATE, a financial term, is the best word based on letter popularity (but it will never give you a win-in-one, because it's not on the list of 2315 original Wordle words -- a list which has since been slightly edited by the Times). Many people know Wheel of Fortune players like to choose some combination of the letters RSTLNE due to their high frequency. These are fine strategies, but they just didn't click with me.


This all led to my favorite Wordle starter word, TRAIN. It uses three of those Wheel of Fortune letters, plus two popular vowels, it's surely on the Wordle 2,315-word list, and it's easy to remember. It also puts some letters in prime spots. T is a common first letter (maybe the most common first letter), and R is good in the second spot because many words begin with BR, TR, CR, DR, and the like. N is a pretty acceptable end-word letter, too.

I would argue that there's no objectively best starter word, and that makes it more fun. ROATE and ORATE might have some super popular letters, but I've found that TRAIN often nabs me two or three letters, usually with at least one in the proper spot. TRAIN is also a satisfying word to remember and type, and the results are pretty solid, time after time. (A friend prefers TRAIL, and that's fine for her, but N shows up more frequently than L.)

Another reason I like TRAIN? According to multiple lists, T is the most-used first letter in English words. So there's a better-than-most chance that not only will the word have a T, but it'll turn up green, meaning T is the first letter of the word. The earlier I know the answer's first letter, the better.


I'm still not perfectly happy with my standard second word, which is CLOSE. It certainly pulls in five more popular letters, without any repetition. But I don't love it. Many times, it gives me no correct letters, which does nothing except eliminate five letter choices. That's helpful, but kind of discouraging. Maybe I need a better second word, one that uses E, O and S, but hits more often. The jury is still out.

Winging it

But since I discovered TRAIN, I've decided my second word is much less important than simple second-guess strategy. 

Once TRAIN has nailed me some letters, my gameplay method immediately shifts. If any letters are green, meaning they're in the right spot already, hey, that's a huge help. But it's the yellow letters, meaning they're in the words in a different spot, that really help with that second-word choice. I mentally play with those yellow letters, hunting out spots where they seem to belong. 

As long as TRAIN gave me a couple of options, I'm usually able to advance my game by juggling those letters on my second guess, often scoring a win on guess No. 3.

Two lessons to remember

If you're in that spot -- have a few yellow letters in need of correct placement, but can't seem to find a word using them -- here are two tip: 

Vowels can start a word

First, remember that many words do start with vowels, and Wordle seems to choose those frequently.

Green letters can repeat

Also, note that letters may appear twice. So even if a word has a green T (or whatever) in a specific spot, don't stop thinking about that letter. There could be another T (even two more). More than once in my early playing days, I've made the mistake of ignoring a green letter, figuring I already nailed that one, and forgetting it might be in the word again.