Wordle: The Best Starter Words, Strategies, Tips and Tricks To Help You Win

Keep that Wordle winning streak going with a little help from our friends.

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
2 min read
Wordle puzzle game on an iPhone

How's your Wordle streak going?

James Martin/CNET

I shared my easy winning strategy for playing Wordle, the hit online game invented by Josh Wardle that's running daily on The New York Times' site. Essentially, I begin with TRAIN and CLOSE, then look at any correct letters and try a word that uses them in numerous spots. When I need to picture possible winning words, I utilize Xs to spell out the correct letters I know so far. So far, the strategy is still working. 

And now there's a new tool you can use. I call it my Wordle player cheat sheet. With help from the big brains at the Oxford English Dictionary, I've put together a list ranking all the letters in the alphabet, listed in the order they're most used in English words. So as you might have guessed, E and A are great letters to throw into a Wordle guess. J and Q, not so much.

I also asked readers and friends to share their Wordle strategies. Hope you'll find some tips to freshen up your game play here.


"I used to use TRAIN as my first guess; now my first two words are always NOISE and TRULY. If the word isn't apparent, I next use CHAMP. Those three words give me 15 letters that are most common, including all 6 vowels. If I'm still totally lost, I go with DEBUG, giving me three more consonants."  --Dan Hughes

Use yesterday's winner

"I always start with the previous day's winning word. Continuity!"  --Marc Hirsh

The random method

"For a long time I used two starter words that gave a lot of vowels and common letters, which always made me a solid four-line winner and sometimes three. But then I branched out and just tossed in random words. Still made me a solid four line winner, sometimes three and a couple of twos."  --Susan C. Young

Another vote for random

"I have almost no strategy. My wordle (and quordle) play is a random free for all. I get wordle in 4 guesses almost every time. I use whatever starter word pops into my head. I will use a second, random word to try to get more hits."  --Debe Ashe Hoover

Importance of A and R

"I also always type out what I have correct with 'X' in the unknown spot(s). Often times a visual person like me can then see the correct answer right away. Also, if I have an 'a' and an 'r' in the wrong place, I almost always move them to the 3rd and 4th spots, so it (could spell) 'are' or 'ard,' etc. That's where they belong a large percentage of the time, if I don't already have it correct."  --Christine Eberhard Minor

Get those vowels

"My strategy is starting with AUDIO to target four vowels."  --Vanessa Bloy

Did we mention vowels?

"ALOUD or OCEAN are my usual."  --Juli Jansen Pelletier

'Stare' at the puzzle

"I stopped playing — but my starter word was always STARE."  --Scott Lerman

Use a 'straw'

"(My starter word) is STRAW…". --Stefan Myslicki