For such a fundamental game concept, the thought and problem solving required in Wordle is quite convoluted. With the myriad combination of letters available, ruling out one five letter word of any structure can be tedious and disorienting, especially with only 6 guesses winding down with each guess. As such, the first guess-the choice of start word- in Wordle is, without a doubt, the most important setting the foundation for the remaining guesses. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing your Wordle start word:
Common letters: Including common letters in the English language yields a higher probability of uncovering yellow or even green letters, with luck. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the most common letters in the English language are E,A,R,O.and T, respectively. For extra security, it is best to include a word with at least 3 or 4 of these letters. Examples include “RAISE”. “TRAIN”, “AROSE” and “RATIO”. However, none of these are, statically, the best Wordle start word. There is another criteria that should be considered in Wordle that is often overlooked.
Letter Positions: Choosing the best Wordle start word does not depend on just the letters themselves, but the positions of the letters. For example, according to the OED, the letter A is featured most common in the third position rather than the first position. Specifially, only 140 five letter words begin with A while 310 words feature A in the third position. This is why playing a word such as “STARE” yields more green letters than a word such as “AROSE” or, the most overrated Wordle word, “ADREU”. Even if there are more answers remaining at the time, ruling out more common letters such as L or S will narrow down the pool until there is one answer remaining.
Even with these factors in mind, none of the above mentioned words qualify for the best Wordle start word of all time. After experimenting with the common letters in the alphabet and the positioning of the letters, we have deduced the best Wordle start word possible: “ROATE”. Roate is a very uncommon vocabulary word but, alas, it is still a real five letter word that is allowed in Wordle. The word Roate is defined as “The cumulative net earnings after taxes available to common shareholders”. Safe to say, any Wordlers will certainly get with their “money’s worth” with this guess.
So why exactly is “ROATE” the best Wordle start word? Well, for starters it is the only 5 letter word to feature all five of the most common Wordle letters: E,A,R,O,T. Not only that, but it features the vowels in their most common positions. E is most prevalent in the last position in words such as “SAUCE”, “TRACE”, or “SLATE”, while A, as stated, is most common in the third position (“STARE”, “TRAIN”). O is also most common in the second position in words such as “ROUTE” and “MOIST”. The R and T, while not in the most common position (R is most prevalent in the fourth position while T is most common in the last position) still feature over 100 possible answers in their second position, yielding a high probability in uncovering green letters in just the first guess.
Even the word does not feature any of the five letters in “ROATE”, the gray letters only leave 106 solutions remaining as opposed to ADREU or SLATE which still leave 243 and 221 guesses, respectively. In these cases, playing a word such as “LUCID” is best as it rules out the rest of the vowels along with three other fairly common letters.
The only caveat with playing ROATE is that it is impossible to get this answer on the first try. Even though ROATE can be used as a word, it is not registered as a Wordle word. Other examples of these types of words include “SOARE” and “AEROS”, both of which are rather solid start words as well. This means that finding the Wordle solution will take at least two guesses. But honestly, the odds of getting the answer on the first try are practically inexistent anyways and playing Wordle is just not as satisfying when relying on luck rather than strategy.
For these reasons, playing ROATE is the best word to get the most out of the first guesses. Statically, playing this word will give a yellow or green letter about 95% of the time (there are 2305 Wordle words and only 106 of them do not feature these letters: 2305 minus 106 is 2199. 2199 divided by 2306 is 0.954, which, as a percentage, equals 95.4%). Safe to say, ROATE is officially the best Wordle start word and, never getting the answer on the first guess is a small price to pay as the “roate” of benefits is quite deafening.