Smug euphoria or unique frustration: welcome to Wordle | Jack Marshall’s column

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Being confused at a puzzle is a unique kind of frustration. Pen and paper out, hundreds of gibberish permutations scribbled out in an endless list of nonsense, I found myself uniquely frustrated recently. Welcome to Wordle.

Wordle is a word game which offers players six attempts at guessing a five-letter word, indicating correct letter guesses and correct letter placements with colour-coded tiles. It exploded in popularity in 2021, resulting in the proliferation of those little grey, yellow, and green tiles all over Twitter as people shared their scores. The New York Times subsequently bought the game for seven figures.

When the tiles first appeared, I didn’t pay much attention. I decided to ignore them - new things scare me and I don’t generally like word games because I’m bad at them and they make me feel even less intelligent than I actually am.

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When I started dating my Wordle-zealot girlfriend, however, she encouraged me to start playing, although I’m fairly sure she only did so in order to make fun of my evidently embarrassing scores (she’s annoyingly good at it).


And so that’s how I came to be a Wordler. It’s been both a blessing and a curse - when you get a Wordle in two or three goes, the feeling of smug satisfaction is pretty intoxicating. Conversely, that feeling of ‘BUT WHAT COULD IT BE?’ is extremely frustrating.

Two Wordles immediately come to mind, one for the wondrous sense of gratification it brought, the other for the maddening exasperation it provoked.

I don’t like to think about the failure, suffice to say that there are a lot of words which start with ‘sha-’ and end in ‘-e’. After guessing ‘shape’, ‘share’, ‘shade’, shake’, and ‘shave’, the answer was revealed as ‘shame’. I almost threw my phone into a canal.

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Now for the success story: I take you back to the start of this column. Pen and paper in hand and five guesses down, I’m struggling. For the life of me, I can’t think what this word could be, hence my desperate list of possibilities. Suddenly, one of my errant guesses strikes gold.

Euphoria. The best thing? My girlfriend didn’t get it.