Skip to main content
The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The New York Times is finally making changes to Wordle

The game’s pool of answers gets some new rules as the game gets its own editor

The New York Times-owned hit puzzle game Wordle is getting a few adjustments to its answer system and a new dedicated editor, Tracy Bennett. The Times announced the system change and Bennett’s appointment Nov. 7.

Wordle now uses an answer list curated by the Times, and its pool of possible answers has shrunk to omit plural forms of three or four-letter words ending with “ES” or “S.” Words like MOLES or PANTS, for example, won’t ever be the right answers, but WOMEN or CACTI could still be correct. However, players can still use plural nouns like MOLES to see if any letters match up with the correct answer.

Other than that, the gameplay remains the same. You get six chances to guess the word of the day, which is selected from the same dictionary as before with a focus on words that are “fun, accessible, lively and varied,” as stated by the Times. Moving forward, Wordle will be under the stewardship of Bennett, who was previously an associate editor for the Times crossword.

Wordle is the creation of Welsh programmer Josh Wardle. Wardle originally made a prototype of the game back in 2013 and shelved it. He decided to complete the game during the pandemic with the help of his partner, Palak Shah. Shah curated the original 2,500 word answer list for the game. Wardle initially only shared the game with family and close friends, but when he unveiled it to the rest of the world in October 2021, Wordle became a viral hit that attracted millions players on a daily basis. On Jan. 31, the New York Times Company (which owns and publishes the New York Times) purchased Wordle for an undisclosed price “in the low-seven figures.”

When Wordles collide: ‘Wordle!’ developer donates $50,000 after old app goes viral by accident

Upon acquiring the game, the Times banned some obscenities from Wordle’s dictionary. That policy appears to have rescinded with Monday’s change; those words are currently playable as guesses. The Times’ announcement explains that the “larger dictionary of English words that are valid guesses will not be curated.”

“What solvers choose to use as guess words is their private choice,” wrote Times spokesperson Jordan Cohen in an email to The Post, quoting the Times’ announcement of the change.

Certain generic words are also absent from the game’s dictionary. “ASIAN” is not a valid entry. “KOREA” and “BURMA” cannot be used while “JAPAN” and “CHINA” can be.

“JAPAN and CHINA are both plain nouns in addition to being proper nouns,” wrote Cohen. “The same cannot be said of the other three examples, which are only proper nouns.”

Some players have claimed that the Times has made Wordle more difficult since taking over the game, citing answers such as “CAULK” and “RUPEE.” This claim has been disputed, and in fact, the Times modified a few of the answers that were scheduled in pre-acquisition to make it easier. For example, the answer for Feb. 15 was AROMA, which was a substitute for the original answer AGORA (a sort of town square that existed in the city-states of ancient Greece, for the curious).

Wordle has also inspired dozens of spin offs from other developers who adapted the format to different subjects. Some prominent examples include geography guessing game Worldle and Heardle for music lovers. There’s even one for video game fans called GuessThe.Game, where players must identify the video game of the day based on screenshots that begin cryptically and become increasingly more obvious with hints such as release year, Metacritic score and platform to help the player along.