I Got Wordle in One Try: What Are the Odds?

On July 17 I got the daily Wordle word in just one try.

Creature of Habit

I did what I always do in the morning after waking up. I immediately grabbed my phone to check messages (like real people are emailing and texting me during the night; no, my messages are primarily ads and spam but I compulsively check every day anyway). I drank my first cup of coffee for the day. I read the daily paper (yeah, I still read a hard copy local morning paper even though about 99% of everything else I read is digital). I caught up on Words With Friends—and then I played Wordle.

Every morning when it’s time for Wordle I launch the app and then I just stare at the 30 boxes on the screen for a few seconds until a five-letter word “comes” to me.

Am I Just Wacky?

That morning the word was “wacky.” I entered it and hit enter. And, to my complete surprise, each of the five letters turned over green—green, green, green, green, green. I’m not kidding and I didn’t cheat.

“No way!” I exclaimed, catching the attention of my husband who’s one of the people I “compete” with every day to get the word in the least amount of tries.

But one try??? What are the odds!?!

I was totally shocked—and, admittedly, a little freaked out. I felt like I was in an episode of the Twilight Zone or on the Truman Show somehow being psychically manipulated.

I had already known of another person—a friend’s son—who also got the word in one try. In his case, the word was “trash.” He, too, just randomly entered the word and voila!

But really, what are the odds? I was curious.

So I Googled It

So I Googled it. And the first result that popped up from Real Statistics Using Excel (which seemed credible) said: “Since there are 2,315 possible target words in Wordle, the probability that you will guess the target in exactly one try is 1/2315 = 0.000432. In fact, it doesn’t matter which of the 2,315 words in the dictionary you choose to use as your initial guess since the probability of success is always 1/2315.”

I have to admit to feeling a bit deflated—I thought the odds would be much greater than that. But, I’m a words person, not a numbers person, so I accepted that answer. At least for a while.

But in the back of my mind I kept thinking, “no, that can’t be right…”

Then one day I’m on the treadmill (how I end my workday usually) and I thought again, “no, that can’t be right…”

And, suddenly, an “a ha!” moment.

Something Doesn’t Quite Make Sense…

It’s not right. The odds, I thought, shouldn’t be based on how many possible words have been entered into the Wordle app by its creator. I have no idea what those words are. My “decision set” each morning is based on all the possible five-letter words there are in the English language (or, at least, all of the five letter words I know which adds a bit more complexity to the calculation). But, still, it’s a lot more than 2315 words!

In fact, when I Googled that—“How many five-letter words are in the English language?”—the answer was 158,000. I picked the right word, in my first try, from a field of 158,000 possibilities! When I tried to calculate the probability like the Real Statistics people did (1/158,000) I got a very weird number (6.329113924050633e-6) and I don’t know what it means, but I’m thinking it’s astronomical.


I’m still a little weirded out by the whole thing, and I’ll probably never do it again. But you never know. Never say never. In fact, maybe “never” will be my word for tomorrow…

As I said, I’m a words person not a numbers person, so I may be way off on my belief that the odds of guessing the World of the day in one try should be based on something closer to 158,000 than 2315. But it seems logical to me.

What do you think? 


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