A new online craze called Wordle is in the news because of differences between American and British spelling.

Players have to guess a 5 letter word. On each go, the player must enter a valid 5 letter word as a guess. The system then tells them how many:

  • correct letters are in the right place.
  • correct letters are in the wrong place.
  • letters are incorrect.

The player gets 6 goes.

A row blew up recently because the word to be guessed was ‘favor’—spelled the American way with -or, not the British way with -our. Some British players objected because they hadn’t realised American spellings are permitted. and probably at least some of them thought American spellings shouldn’t be permitted.

It would be mildly impolite not to tell players which national variety of English spelling is being used. I think, though, that the protesters are being silly. My default assumption would be that American spelling is being used for something like this, unless the activity is clearly aimed at some other population. In any case, it doesn’t much matter which national variety the organiser picks. This is intended to be a light-hearted game (though possibly addictive).


  1. Another controversial aroma has wafted into the world of Wordle. The founder recently sold the game to the New York Times. Reportedly, part of Wordle’s appeal has been that across the whole world every player is trying to guess the same word. Yet on a recent day, the target word on the founder’s original site was agora, but on the New York Times site was aroma.
    According to press reports, the New York Times has said that it is removing target words that it considers insensitive, offensive or too obscure. And the NYT is said to have added that players ‘can likely update to the new list [of target words] by refreshing their browsers.’

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