eli5: Wordle-bot


“XXXXX would be a better guess” suggesting a word that does NOT contain the letters I’ve already guessed correctly?

In: 0

Yes indeed.

The goal of a guess is to eliminate as many possible wrong answers and leave only a correct answer that you can choose on the next go.

Say for example you get really lucky on the first guess and get 4 out of 5 characters. However say there are still 8 possible words. Option 1 is to make guesses using those correct letters eliminating one character at a time and hope you get lucky. Option 2 is to find a different word that uses several characters and eliminate multiple wrong answers in one go. Reusing a known letter gives up the chance to get extra information.

Now if your goal is to get the answer in as few guesses as possible for street cred, at the expense of being less likely to solve the puzzle at all, then it makes sense to only use the correct letters. This is also called hard mode if you have to use letters you already got correct.

Depending on how you feel about the relative value of getting the answer in two, three, four, or more guesses, it may be worth it to sacrifice the possibility of winning in two guesses to learn more information and have a better-informed third guess.

It’s not about directly solving the word immediately, it’s about narrowing down the possibilities the most.

Let’s say your first guess is BATCH and you see green for all of ATCH. The problem is there are 7 5 letter words that end in ATCH:

– ~~Batch~~ We know it’s not this one, because we already guessed it.
– Catch
– Hatch
– Latch
– Match
– Patch
– Watch.

(Natch and Ratch are words but not potential answers in Wordle).

If you just guess the first letter with ATCH each time, you could end up getting unlucky and failing to solve. So instead you guess a word that has as many of those first letters as possible to eliminate them all in one fell swoop. You could guess CHAMP and know if it’s one of Catch, ~~Hatch,~~ Match, and Patch all at once, and if it’s not, you’ve used one guess to eliminate ~~four~~ three words instead of one.

This is why Hard mode REQUIRES you to use the letters you’ve already correctly guessed – it makes it harder to narrow down words by guessing things you know are wrong but which eliminate more possibilities.

The bot has access to the same information you do; it only knows the information from your guesses so far as well as the rest of the English alphabet and Wordle word bank. Using the “atch” example from the other commenter, the bot would have to actually know the answer to give you a “better guess” that contains the letters you’ve already used. Instead, its power comes from its ability to efficiently eliminate iterations until the number of available letters and permutations leaves you with only one possible word.


Think of it this way; you are much more likely to guess the right five letter word if your only letter options are TUSQE rather than if your letter options are ONUMASTIVQLEPR. So is the bot; the difference between you and it is just that it knows how to get to the first scenario most efficiently.