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What is Wordle? What to know about the simple, addictive online word game

Are all your friends hooked on Wordle? Here's the deal with the new online word game that's exploded in popularity.

One mystery word, six guesses: that’s the basic idea of Wordle, a simple yet addictive word game that’s taking the world by storm.

What is Wordle?

Josh Wardle, a software engineer based in Brooklyn, created the game for his partner, Palak Shah, who loves word puzzles, and named it Wordle as a play on his last name, according to The New York Times. Their relatives soon began playing it, too, and they loved it so much that Wardle decided to release the game publicly in October.

During the first few weeks, only a handful of people played the game, which is free and features no ads or fancy graphics. But over the next few months, the game exploded in popularity, with more than 300,000 people logging on to solve the daily Wordle puzzle, according to the Times.

WordleTODAY Illustration / Wordle

How do you play Wordle?

(Warning: Spoilers for the Jan. 5 Wordle puzzle answer are below!)

The premise of Wordle is simple; players have six tries to guess a five-letter mystery word. Each time you guess a word, the game tells you which (if any) of the letters you have guessed are correct — and if they’re in the correct place in the answer.

The Jan. 5 Wordle puzzle in mid-play. The green squares indicate that those letters have been guessed correctly, and are in the correct spot. The yellow square over the 'I' in the first word reveals that it's in the mystery word, but not in that spot.Wordle

The game also tells you if you’ve guessed a letter that is in the mystery word, but in a different spot.

Each puzzle is played once per day, and it includes a way for people to share their results on social media without revealing the current day’s answer. 

Here's the what a solved game looks like:

Jan. 5's solved Wordle game. There are plenty of different ways to solve the mystery word.Wordle

People have been excitedly sharing their Wordle scores on Twitter, including “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon.

“Who else is playing #Wordle? Addicted,” Fallon tweeted, sharing a screenshot that revealed he solved Tuesday’s Wordle in five tries.

Plenty of others on Twitter have been sharing their love for the addictive word game.

Why is Wordle so popular?

Many people seem to enjoy the simplicity of the game, as well as the lack of ads or spam on the no-frills Wordle website. For some, the game is a nostalgic throwback to a time of more basic online gaming.

“I am truly shocked by Wordle,” one Twitter user wrote. “It’s not an app. It’s not malware. There are no hot singles who want to meet you. It’s literally just a webpage with a fun thing on it. I thought those had gone extinct years ago.”

Speaking to the Times, Wardle, the game's creator, pointed out that because people can only play one puzzle per day, it keeps them wanting more.

Other Wordle fans are charmed by how it began — as a game that Wardle originally invented for his partner because he knew how much she loved word puzzles.

"Literally can you imagine anything more romantic," one Twitter user wrote.