Seems like everyone has an opinion on the best opening word for Wordle. Lots of vowels? Common letters? Consonants or consonant-blends? AROSE or ADIEU? SLATE or STARE? What about SHARE? After all, “SH” is a typical consonant-blend, and the rest of the letters are all common. And then there’s that Wordle-bot that’s worked its way into Wordle-lore. According to news reports, the bot points to CRANE as the very best opening word.
What’s the answer? Here’s our take: It depends! If the daily solution-word is SHAVE and you open with SHOVE, then: “Congratulations!” You happened to pick the best possible opening word for that day. You obviously have great Wordle instincts and intuition. Yep, that’s the secret. Easy! Case closed – nothing else to discuss here!
Don’t you wish it was really that simple? Okay, it doesn’t really work that way, but don’t despair, we did the math, applied the logic, and came up with a list of great openers: ARISE, RAISE, ALONE and AROSE are all pretty good. Each has a good number of vowels, common letters, and no repeat letters. (Which raises your chances of landing a green or yellow on your first play.) What’s not to like?
Right now, the Wordle game has 2,309 words that serve as solutions. All four of these openers intersect with 92% of the 2,309 solution-words. That’s the highest rate of intersection of all the words, taken from that list of 2,309 words, that do not have repeat letters. That means at least one letter from each of those four words shows up in over 2,100 of the 2,309 solutions. And of those four words, the letters in AROSE show up in those 2,100 words at a slightly higher rate than do the letters in either ARISE, RAISE or ALONE. So AROSE is it. Easy! Case closed – nothing else to discuss here!
But wait! What about letter placement?
Letters appear at higher rates of frequency based on their position. For example, “S” is the most commonly appearing 1st letter throughout the list of 2,309 solution-words, but it only ranks 18th as a second letter. Throughout the list of 2,309 solution-words, the letters in SLATE have the highest average rate of frequency, while the letters in NYMPH have the lowest. It doesn’t take a genius to see that SLATE would be a pretty good starting word. On the other hand, NYMPH would be a lousy one, unless the daily solution-word turns out to be LYMPH. If that happens, you’re a genius if you opened with NYMPH.
What words have the best letter positions in relation to that list of 2,309 solution words? Here are the top 10, beginning with the highest, ranking word: SLATE, SAUCE, SLICE, SHALE, SAUTE, SOOTY, SHARE, SHINE, SUITE, and CRANE. (CRANE? Maybe that bot’s recommendation was on the money.) Most of these words have no repeat letters and we know that’s a good thing. There you go. Easy! Case closed – nothing else to discuss here!
But wait! What if we score all 2,309 words based on a range of important factors including: word intersection, average incidence of intersecting letters, letter placement, common letter combinations…
Guess what? We did that too. It was complicated, but here’s our list of well-balanced, secret-sauce, top 10 words: SLATE, CRANE, CRATE, RAISE, STARE, SANER, ARISE, SHARE, TRACE and AROSE. There you go. Easy! Case closed – nothing else to discuss here!
But wait! What about the legendary bot?
Then again, should we really just turn our Wordle-fortunes over to someone else’s bot? Absolutely not! Instead, we went and built a bot of our own, and we were kind of surprised, and felt kind of validated, by the results. Is our bot as good as their bot? Maybe, maybe better, maybe not, but one thing’s for sure: it is pretty darn good. And what was our bot’s highest rated word? CRANE! (Whod’ve thunk it?) Here’s the remainder of our bot’s top 10 rated words: TRAIN, SLANT, CRATE, TRACE, PRINT, TRICE, LEANT, SLATE and CRONE. Our bot solved all 2,309 words most efficiently when using one of these words.
There you go. Easy! Case closed – nothing else to discuss here! That is if you’re a bot. For the rest of you, use intuition and logic (love and science), pick your favorite word, and try your best to solve in two, or three or four…