“The only way to win is cheat.”  — From the lyrics to “Suicide is Painless,” the theme song for the movie “M*A*S*H” by Johnny Mandel

Do you cheat at Wordle? Confession time, I might. You see every morning Mrs. Word Guy and I collaborate across the kitchen table to solve our daily word puzzles (Wordle, Quordle and Octordle) on different devices. So, are we cheating? I like to think not.

And here’s why. Recently I was alerted to the fact that there is a difference between cheating and “getting help” in our morning battles with those devious word-puzzle makers. But first, some background.

In the wide, wide world of Wordle (and its ilk), we Americans aren’t doing too badly when it comes to cheating at the game, according to the website unscramblerer.com. Based on an analysis of the origins of Google search phrases including “Wordle hint,” “Wordle answer” and “Wordle today,” U.S. players come in fourth behind the bigger cheaters in New Zealand, Ireland and the United Kingdom. (I just realized that since my ancestors came here from England and Ireland, maybe cheating at word games is in my genes.)

And maybe my cheating (it’s such an ugly word) is due not only to nature but to nurture. You see, I’m a native Mainer and Mainers, it seems, are more likely to cheat at Wordle than residents of any other state in the nation (we’re No. 1!, we’re No. 1!), according to that same analysis by unscramblerer.com. That said, the other New England states except Connecticut occupy the four spots right behind us on the top-cheaters list.

But there is some good news regarding all this wordy cheating. According to Randoh Sallihall of unscramblerer.com, internet searches for things like “wordle answer” and “wordle today” have now been surpassed by searches for phrases such as “Wordle hints.”


“The Wordle community has matured over the past year,” says Sallihall, adding that fewer players want direct answers to the day’s puzzle because that ruins all the fun. “Whereas a hint,” he notes, “still allows you to solve the word puzzle yourself. Hints seem like the perfect answer to getting stuck at solving Wordle.”

Websites for hints abound. One such site prompts you to “enter 5 letters e.g. SO??E (? for unknown letters),” before hitting enter and getting a selection of potential answers.

Another site lets you type in five letters and then click on each letter in order to change it to the color on your most recent Wordle attempt: one click to turn the letter to gray (indicating the letter is not in the day’s winning word), two to turn it yellow (indicating the letter is in the word but in the wrong place), and three clicks for green (right letter, right place). I experimented by typing in a green S and a green O followed by a yellow E and the letters G and H in gray: I got the hints SOBER, SOWER and SOLVE.

So there you have it. I have decided that my alleged co-conspirator (my wife) and I are innocent of any trumped-up charges of Wordle cheating because we solve our word games the old-fashioned way, by using dry-erase markers, white boards and that gray matter in our heads.

Rarely, if ever, do we (meaning “I”) Google something like “five-letter words that begin with wr,” for example.

And never have we resorted to using those helpful online resources (such as the Wordle solvers that can be found at sites such as Dictionary.com and Unscramblerer.com, if you’re interested, cheater).


And even if we really did cheat, we’d be cheating only ourselves.

And besides, nobody else cares how many tries it took you to solve today’s puzzle.

And remember, “cheat” is a five-letter word. In fact it was the solution to Wordle 166 on Dec. 2, 2021, so it’s almost like they’re telling us to go ahead and do it, right?

Jim Witherell of Lewiston is a writer and lover of words whose work includes “L.L. Bean: The Man and His Company” and “Ed Muskie: Made in Maine.” He can be reached at jlwitherell19@gmail.com.

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: