There’s a new superspreader on campus — and it’s not COVID-19. It hits at midnight, invading the Goodrich Coffee Bar at breakfast time and even impacting your family back home. Its 30 boxes terrorize even the brightest minds this campus has to offer, and it’s impossible to resist.
Wordle – an online daily word game – has arrived at College.
Players have a maximum of six tries to guess the five-letter word of the day. After submitting a word, the color of the tiles changes to indicate the accuracy of the guess: green tiles for letters in the correct place, yellow tiles for letters in the word but in the wrong place, and gray tiles for letters that are not in the correct place. the word at all.
Some students have consistent words they use for their first word every day – check out the Disk‘s “Wordle on the Quad” in last week’s print issue – carefully chosen for their combination of common vowels and consonants. Trinity Conant ’23 uses RAISE because it uses his favorite vowels and versatile consonants; Amalia Culpepper-Wehr ’24 uses ADIEU for vowels; and Justin Hartwig ’25 uses CRANE because he saw a YouTube video explaining that was the best word to use, statistically speaking.
The word of choice for Delilah Delgado ’25 is STARE. “At this point, I’m just sticking with it,” she said. “What if the day I don’t use it as a starting word is the answer? It would be devastating.
However, some students take the opposite approach by starting with a new word each day. “I don’t have a parting word – I think it’s boring,” said Hannah Adams ’25. “I just go with the first decent word I can think of.”
Ruby Navarro ’24 shared a similar sentiment. “I change my starting word every time,” she said. “I find it amusing to see where that word could take me.”
Sometimes Annika Brockman ’24 starts with the correct word from the day before, while Sari Klainberg ’25 chooses words based on her current situation. “Recently I was online at Goodrich and I put TIRED,” Klainberg said.
Klainberg, like other students, first discovered Wordle through social media. “My dad kept posting jokes about it on Facebook, and I was honestly worried because it just seemed like random boxes in random orders and I even thought maybe it had been hacked,” she said. Many other students said they discovered him on Twitter, TikTok, Instagram and Yik Yak.
There is only one Wordle puzzle available to users each day, and it refreshes at midnight. Hannah Bae ’24, Delgado, Lily Goldberg ’22, Nick Hollings ’24, Chan Lee ’24, Jimmy Li ’24, Navarro, Sammy Sasaki ’24 and Shenba Vairavan ’24 all shared that they completed the Wordle in the five minutes after leaving.
However, other students wait until they wake up in the morning. Culpepper-Wehr finishes it over breakfast, Conant plays while drinking his morning coffee, and Rijul Jain ’25 does it at first thing every morning. “[I do it] as soon as I wake up, in order to heal my chronic cloudy-eyed start to the day,” he said. Adams shared the less popular technique of doing the puzzle at night.
Many students have successfully completed the Wordle every day since they started playing. Rachel Schmidt ’25 reported the highest streak among respondents: 52 straight days.
After arriving at the correct word, a key part of the Wordle culture is sharing your scores with others. Unlike other word games like crosswords, users can share their scores without revealing the answers, as the site creates a pattern of colorful square emojis that users can send to friends or post on social media.
Some students like Li and Hartwig have group chats dedicated solely to sharing Wordle scores. Goldberg has a Wordle group chat with his parents. “I wouldn’t be caught dead texting a friend,” she said.
On the contrary, some students go to great lengths to share their Wordle scores. “[I send my score to] everyone that I can,” Hartwig said. “My parents still don’t play, unfortunately. [They’re] too afraid to lose.
Other students have reported rivalries between the people they share the Wordle with. For Delgado, racing is a family affair. “It’s kind of a devastating send-off [scores] to my mom because my mom is brilliant,” she said. “She’ll always get it in fewer tries than it takes me.”
Some students take the game less seriously. Vairavan said Wordle is fun because of its “low-stakes thinking but high-stakes validation.” Navarro said she learned new words while playing the game.
Conant is also passionate about the simplicity of Wordle. “I despise Wordle’s complex strategy and speech,” she said. “I like to guess my words and hope for the best, and I think if you don’t respect other people’s Wordle approaches, you’re just being mean. It’s not that bad.”
Jain shared a similar sentiment. “Wordle is like the anti-crossword and egalitarian game for the people,” he said. “I think Wordle keeps us connected and also honest.”
Not all Wordle strategies are created equal – while every player has the same six opportunities to guess the Wordle, Hartwig said two distinct categories of players have emerged. “I feel like there’s a big difference between someone getting the Wordle in five [guesses] and does it in five minutes against someone who does it in three [guesses]but they spent three hours creating the perfect word,” he said.
Because Wordle resets and releases at the same time every day around the world, many students shared that the sense of community is what makes Wordle fun for them. “Being able to share it with my friends and family and participate in a society-wide game…is so much fun,” Conant said.
Schmidt also said that the community around Wordle sets it apart from other word games. “I really like word games in general, but I think Wordle is great in particular because of the community aspect,” she said. “I love seeing other people’s approaches for the same word, and I love the commitment to not spoil the word for anyone.”
Wordle’s popularity has sparked variations derived from Wordle, where the same rules apply, but word choices are centered around a certain theme. Some students play Worldle (geography), Dordle (two words at a time), Quordle (four words at a time), Octordle (eight words at a time), Nerdle (calculations), Absurdle (hard words), Subwaydle (lines Metro), Taylordle (Taylor Swift-themed), Poeltl (basketball-themed), Jewdle (Jewish-themed), and Squabble (multiplayer). However, Brockman sticks to the classic. “I’m a purist,” she says.
While Wordle started out as its own standalone website, it was recently acquired by The New York Times, which caused some controversy among the players. Many students criticized the move following rumors of a plan to put Wordle behind a paywall, which would follow precedent for others. NYT mind games. “I read something saying that Wordle would ‘initially remain free’ after the change, which worries me,” Hollings said.
Hartwig agreed. “The day they put him behind the paywall is the day Wordle dies,” he said.
Wordle has become an integral part of everyday life for people in the Williams community, not just for students currently in college.
Max Billick ’26, entering freshman grade, does the Wordle every day on his way to high school. “I think part of the initial appeal was that it was less esoteric than a lot of literary games,” he said. “It was very approachable, and it didn’t take all the guesswork out of me, so that little sense of accomplishment kind of rattled me.”
Old Disk editors and former alumni Joey Fox ’21 and Rebecca Tauber ’21 also complete the Wordle each day. Fox does this every day after breakfast and sends his score to a small group discussion of other College alumni. Tauber’s seed word is AUDIO because she works in public radio, and the word tests for a lot of vowels. For her, the game is fun because of “the daily glimmer of hope of getting the rare try”.
Despite the resounding sentiment among students, not everyone is impressed with the game. College communications director Jim Reische also plays daily, starting with the word FAULT, often completing it correctly in three or four tries. “It’s fun, but I don’t feel like it’s that difficult,” he said. “I don’t understand the hype.”
But the students say they are still attached to Wordle. “It’s not going anywhere anytime soon, at least not for me,” Delgado said. “I feel like it’s going to be one of those things I cling to.”