clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The New York Times is changing some of Wordle’s rules

‘It will finally be our fault if Wordle is harder’

A photo of an iPhone displaying a Wordle puzzle solution from the past, “HARRY” Photo: Polygon
Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

The New York Times has announced some changes to the rules of Wordle, the viral word game it acquired from solo developer Josh Wardle back in January.

The game also now has a dedicated editor, like the Times’ other word games. Tracy Bennett, formerly a crossword editor, takes the role.

While the essential gameplay remains the same, the Times is now leaving behind the word list put together by Wardle and his partner Palak Shah in favor of its own curated list. There are some changes to the kinds of words that will be accepted as valid answers, as well as those that can be used as guesses.

Newly ruled out as possible answers are plurals of three- and four-letter words ending in “ES” or “S,” respectively. Other plurals are acceptable, however. “The answer will never be FOXES or SPOTS, but it might be GEESE or FUNGI,” the Times said.

However, words disallowed as answers, including plurals ending in “S,” can still be used as guesses to help narrow down the letters. As noted by the Washington Post, this freedom now extends to the offensive words that had previously been completely removed from the game’s dictionary by the Times.

“While the answer list is curated, the much larger dictionary of English words that are valid guesses will not be curated,” the Times said. “What solvers choose to use as guess words is their private choice.”

In curating the answer list, the Times says it wants to ensure “the game stays focused on vocabulary that’s fun, accessible, lively, and varied.” Answers will now be carefully programmed and tested. “After nearly a year of speculation, it will finally be our fault if Wordle is harder,” the newspaper joked, referring to the debunked theory that the Times had made the game more difficult after its acquisition.

Hopefully the Times will have more success keeping the fun of Wordle alive than it has in its dreadful board game spinoff.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon