## Absurdle

Absurdle is an adversarial variant of the charming and (currently) viral word guessing game Wordle.

The mechanics of Absurdle are identical to Wordle, or as close as I can make them. Among other things, they use (almost) the same word lists. (There are actually two word lists in Wordle: one is a list of 2,315 words which can appear as answers, and the other is a list of 10,657 rather more obscure words which are allowed as guesses but will never appear as answers.) The major difference is behind the scenes.

Wordle picks a single secret word at the beginning of the game, and then you have to guess it. Absurdle gives the impression of picking a single secret word, but instead what it actually does is consider the entire list of all possible secret words which conform to your guesses so far. Each time you guess, Absurdle prunes its internal list as little as possible, attempting to intentionally prolong the game as much as possible.

The easiest way to explain this is with a worked example.

Suppose your first guess is "TERNS".

Absurdle considers every word in its list of 2,315 possible secret words and figures out what its response would be in each case.

If the secret word was... ...then Absurdle's response would be...
"CIGAR"β¬β¬π¨β¬β¬
"SISSY"β¬β¬β¬β¬π¨
"HUMPH"β¬β¬β¬β¬β¬
......

This has the effect of separating all of the 2,315 possible secret words up into different buckets depending on the possible response. In this case, there are 110 of these buckets:

If Absurdle's response was... ...then the secret word would have to be one of... Number of secret words in this bucket
β¬β¬π¨β¬β¬"CIGAR", "DWARF", "MAJOR", ...136
β¬β¬β¬β¬π¨"SISSY", "BLUSH", "BASIC", ...119
β¬β¬β¬β¬β¬"HUMPH", "FOCAL", "CLUCK", ...256
.........

The smallest bucket is of course the π©π©π©π©π© bucket, which has a single word in it, "TERNS". If Absurdle were feeling nice then it could simply announce, "Success! The word was 'TERNS'! You won in a single guess!" But Absurdle instead does the opposite, and selects the largest bucket, which is β¬β¬β¬β¬β¬ and has 256 words in it. It prunes its internal list of possibilities from all 2,315 words down to just those 256 words, tells you "No, none of those letters appear in my secret word", and waits for your next guess.

Let's say your next guess is "APHID". All new letters, of course.

Absurdle does the same thing again.

If the secret word was... ...then Absurdle's response would be...
"HUMPH"β¬π¨π¨β¬β¬
"FOCAL"π¨β¬β¬β¬β¬
"CLUCK"β¬β¬β¬β¬β¬
......

Notice how "TERNS" isn't one of the possibilities, as it was discarded last turn. This time, there are only 44 buckets:

If Absurdle's response was... ...then the secret word would have to be one of... Number of secret words in this bucket
β¬π¨π¨β¬β¬"HUMPH", "WHOOP", "GLYPH", ...7
π¨β¬β¬β¬β¬"FOCAL", "OFFAL", "GAMMA", ...38
β¬β¬β¬β¬β¬"CLUCK", "BOOBY", "BOOZY", ...36
.........

The largest bucket is π¨β¬β¬β¬β¬, with 38 words in it. So Absurdle returns π¨β¬β¬β¬β¬ and the game continues.

Let's try "QUICK".

If the secret word was... ...then Absurdle's response would be...
"FOCAL"β¬β¬β¬π¨β¬
"OFFAL"β¬β¬β¬β¬β¬
"GAMMA"β¬β¬β¬β¬β¬
......

This leaves just 12 buckets:

If Absurdle's response was... ...then the secret word would have to be one of... Number of secret words in this bucket
β¬β¬β¬π¨β¬"FOCAL", "COMMA", "CACAO", ...9
β¬β¬β¬β¬β¬"OFFAL", "GAMMA", "LLAMA", ...15
.........

Absurdle selects "β¬β¬β¬β¬β¬" and the number of possibilities drops to just 15 words.

This process continues until you manage to chase Absurdle into a corner, where there can only be one possible word which fits all the available evidence. At this point all the behind-the-scenes shenanigans stop, and the game proceeds exactly as it does in Wordle, until such time as you correctly guess the full word. Of course, by this point, you, the player, also have enough information to uniquely identify the word in question, so this is nearly always the last turn of the game.

### Playing Absurdle vs. playing Wordle

Wordle is capped at 6 turns, which is generally plenty for a casual player. Some good strategies include picking a good starter word with a good combination of different common letters, applying plenty of logic to the clues returned by the game, and having a broad vocabulary of words to use for follow-up guesses.

Absurdle has no turn cap, because a casual game can easily last for over a dozen turns. The Absurdle AI is highly evasive and it takes real effort to force the game to give up useful information and back it into a corner. A common occurrence in the Absurdle endgame is to nail down all but one or two letters of "the" secret and then be forced to systematically chase Absurdle through all of the remaining possibilities, one at a time. This is called a "corridor":

Because the Absurdle algorithm is completely deterministic, it will always respond the same way to the same inputs. The game relies on the player to supply some randomness in the form of their initial guesses. Make the same guesses, and you'll play the same game.

As for non-casual play... raw word power is critical, as is tactical play — intentionally testing previously untested letters in known (green) locations to gain more information faster, for example. But an extremely popular tactic is to write a computer program to play the game for you. The Absurdle algorithm is an open book — just hit "View source" — and completely deterministic, making it eminently attackable and almost certainly fully solvable. The shortest known games of Absurdle are 4 turns long, for example:

It is believed that 4 turns is optimal; it isn't possible to force a win in only 3 turns.

However, I will leave discussion of techniques for attacking Wordle/Absurdle to other people.

### Prior art

This isn't really anything new.

Absurdle's spin on Wordle is spiritually very similar to an earlier game/prank of mine, HATETRIS, which is an adversarial variant on Tetris. In both cases I took a game which at a surface level is single-player, with a passive CPU opponent behaving mostly randomly, and turned it into an asymmetric, adversarial game, replacing the CPU opponent with an enemy AI which is actively playing to win.

Additionally, Wordle has a great deal in common with the classic game Hangman, which already is an asymmetric two-player game. The adversarial strategy Absurdle uses is extremely obvious to Hangman players and has probably been known for as long as the game of Hangman has existed. Here's a good video on this topic:

Wordle is also extremely similar to the game Mastermind, which also supports this adversarial strategy: try Galaxybrain, by CHz.

### Future work

About two weeks in, I have the game pretty much where I want it to be.

I will not be aiming for feature parity with Wordle. For example, don't expect neat CSS animations, a daily challenge mode or persistent statistics. I will consider further bug reports and feature requests on a case-by-case basis. I reserve the right to modify the word lists.

It is true that nastier algorithms than Absurdle's are possible. By choosing the largest bucket after every turn, Absurdle does not necessarily force the game to run for the maximum number of turns. A smaller bucket can sometimes contain a more diverse collection of possible secret words, which would force the player to spend more turns guessing.

However, in the general case, this optimal (or from a player's perspective, pessimal) min-max approach appears to be completely impractical for Absurdle because of the sheer number of possibilities. With more than 10,000 possible words to guess on each turn, the game balloons to more than a trillion possible different states after just three guesses.

It is possible that the total number of possible game states in Absurdle is, in fact, tractable. Counting the states seems to be pretty difficult, but it might actually turn out to be less than a trillion. Even if it is a trillion or more, the number might still be within practical reach of some kind of brute-force analysis. But even if that is the case, the real question is whether it's practical to cache enough early responses that Absurdle can compute the rest of its strategy on the client, in JavaScript. (I'm not adding a server-side component to this insanely popular game, thanks.) In any case this is an open question which I'm not planning to pursue myself.

I will also not modify the algorithm to behave non-deterministically (randomly) for the purposes of entertainment. This makes the game strictly easier, which isn't my objective. There's now a "random guess" button, which I hope fills that need.

Lastly, I will not be releasing the source code of Absurdle on GitHub.

Thank you for playing, and many thanks to Josh Wardle, creator of Wordle.

### Discussion (168)

#### 2022-01-10 02:22:40 by bee:

two "bugs" (?): - letters that have been guessed correctly aren't showing up as green on the keyboard (they just appear normal light grey) - if you type more than 5 letters, you have to press backspace more than once for backspacing to work

#### 2022-01-10 03:03:04 by Tim McCormack:

A short script for printing out the answer pattern after a game: https://gist.github.com/timmc/c80e7e998269bb5adc3dd117912131ae For reasons too boring and irrelevant to mention here I ended up choosing some different emoji, but it's easy enough to change it back to the colored squares. Sample output: βββββ AGENT βββββ CLOUD πππββ SKIMP ββπππ BRISK πππππ WHISK

#### 2022-01-10 04:53:39 by jrtom:

On the theme of "adversarial", I've been experimenting with figuring out how to make the largest number of guesses while still technically gaining information (eliminating a letter or eliminating an option for where a known letter can go) before I'm forced to solve the puzzle. So far I'm up to 19, but I think I can probably do better.

#### 2022-01-10 05:39:01 by Kieros:

I've been thinking the same thing as well, what's the longest you can go, but with the restriction that it has to be a potential correct answer, rather than just gaining any information.

#### 2022-01-10 06:19:42 by Vynce:

Would suggest separating this page into non-spoiler and spoiler and hiding the spoilery stuff another level away or clearly marking it; i was surprised, e.g., to run into the best known game without looking for it.

#### 2022-01-10 11:16:13 by weka:

hey i noticed a bug. it shouldnβt allow you to give up again after you end the game maybe it should be replaced with a new game button because thatβs missing xD

#### 2022-01-10 15:14:10 by vingris:

I suggest an alternate game mode that more fully inverts the Wordle formula: the player is shown a random word form the list of valid answers and has to get to it through the adversarial algorithm. It's quite fun to golf a specific word instead of just going for the lowest number of steps overall. Also, some kind of "undo" functionality would be helpful for this.

#### 2022-01-10 18:14:10 by carlmorris:

It seems too easy to press 'give up' accidentally... Love the game though.

#### 2022-01-10 19:49:39 by Ben:

I was wondering - what if, instead of selecting the largest bucket, it instead selected, say, the median bucket? Would that result in a game that feels 'hard but not too hard' or would it just be weird?

#### 2022-01-10 19:58:28 by Vynce:

related to vingris' post - can we prove whether there are "valid" words that are impossible to actually corner it to?

#### 2022-01-10 23:31:32 by Will Hirsch:

Bug: when you start a new game, the guesses are colored according to the sequence of guesses in the first game played. Only the keyboard updates correctly... which is a whole new level of adversarialness!

#### 2022-01-10 23:36:31 by qntm:

Thank you for catching that one so quickly, it was only in production for about 15 minutes... and it is now fixed. I should probably write some tests for this thing, huh?

#### 2022-01-11 00:08:36 by Phiala:

I ran into some sort of bug just now. After three rounds I had QUIPS (S 5 in yellow) SPEAR (S 1 in yellow) MOSSY (SSY 345 in yellow) and with the keyboard with A in yellow and Y in green. Maybe that's the same as the bug Will flagged? I gave up, and it provided CADDY as the word.

#### 2022-01-11 00:37:20 by qntm:

Phiala: I haven't been able to reproduce your bug. You may need to hard refresh to get the latest code? Alternatively, if you can provide a detailed list of steps to reproduce the problem - everything you did starting from page load - that would be lovely.

#### 2022-01-11 01:09:19 by jeremy:

I love it! My only complaint is it's very hard to distinguish on the keyboard which letters have been guessed (and aren't in the word) and which haven't been guessed yet. Wordle makes the former much darker than the latter.

#### 2022-01-11 01:22:27 by Randy:

The variation I'm playing is "try to force it to give you a particular word." I wanted to get the word SYRUP, but I see that the bucket calculation is more than just "always give the bucket with fewest clues." Thanks for explaining this!

#### 2022-01-11 01:43:49 by anonymfus:

Keyboard highlight seems to be broken: https://i.redd.it/i2ky4c97qya81.png

#### 2022-01-11 01:59:53 by jeff:

I would suggest an option for it to randomly choose a first guess for you.

#### 2022-01-11 02:06:55 by CrazyEddie:

When I first tried playing a few minutes ago, the keyboard letters were not getting colored correctly. I reloaded the page in my browser and the issue seems to be resolved.

#### 2022-01-11 02:22:20 by blastron:

Thanks for doing this! A suggestion: Wordle has a hard mode that forces you to respect clues that you've been given, such as "this word does not contain an E". While it's possible to self-impose this, having the option to do that here would be fantastic.

#### 2022-01-11 02:54:17 by CrazyEddie:

Feature Request: At the end of a game, it would be nice to be able to start a new game by simply pressing <enter>. That way you can play game after game just by typing without needing to remove your hands from the keyboard and use the mouse to click "new game".

#### 2022-01-11 02:56:04 by scuzz:

Good fun, thank you. The copy to clipboard seems to be broken for me and some people I shared it with. Uncaught (in promise) ReferenceError: ClipboardItem is not defined absurdle.js:308:22

#### 2022-01-11 04:18:29 by kimbo305:

I'm not sure this is what you want for when there's multiple same letters? https://i.imgur.com/uXcjMYil.png Is the 2nd D in the right position because it's not highlighted yellow?

#### 2022-01-11 09:57:08 by qntm:

blastron: Hard mode is a low priority but I may look into it if this is still popular a week or two from now. scuzz: Clipboard was broken in Firefox, it should be fixed now, please try again. kimbo305: No, that "D" is not in the right position. Only one of the two "D"s is yellow because your word only has one "D" in it. (Your word is "DUCHY".)

The zoom levels on smaller phone screens (iPhone SE 1st Gen, 4β screen), is frustrating - I have to keep zooming it out in landscape orientation, or keep scrolling sideways in portrait orientation. Taking a leaf out of Wordleβs layout styling would be good :)

#### 2022-01-11 12:11:16 by Jess:

Love this even more than Wordle. Unfortunately I can't play right now, keep getting the same 3 or 4 words such as fight and jolly. I can tell which of the three it will be quickly

#### 2022-01-11 14:39:42 by hmmatea:

this is really fun to play with. i am writing some code that finds guesses forcing the AI to end with any word you want (probably the same thing Randy described). i am running into a bit of a problem currently: when there are multiple largest buckets, i can't predict which one the AI picks -- so i can only submit words which produce one objective largest bucket. this makes the guesses quite inefficient. while the one it chooses seems to be deterministic, i don't think i can really predict what it is without copying your code directly (and also having to use javascript) -- as far as i can tell, Object.entries(buckets) doesn't guarantee any particular order of the entries, and i suspect it has something to do with the order in which the elements are added into the dictionary. would it be possible for you to sort the entries in some way (by bucketId should be fine) so that it is possible to calculate which bucket will be chosen? thanks, Matea

#### 2022-01-11 16:46:09 by Aegeus:

Here's an interesting tip: Start off by placing letters you *don't* want to deal with. For instance, if you hate words ending in Y since you have to chase the algorithm through JAMMY, MAMMY, HAMMY, etc, start off with something like DAILY. Since the algorithm minimizes the information it gives at each step, it will decide that the word doesn't end in LY, and close off that whole line of questioning. Obviously this isn't the optimal play, but if you're trying to play the game "fairly" then it can make it a lot easier to think of words.

#### 2022-01-11 18:06:30 by David:

I think a bit of non-determinism could make the game more fun without making it meaningfully easier. In fact, in some ways it could make it harder. As has been mentioned, one strategy today is to stuff your least favorite letters into the first move, guaranteeing they won't appear. I think it would be reasonable to add a version that tosses things up a bit.

#### 2022-01-11 18:13:11 by kimb305:

> kimbo305: No, that "D" is not in the right position. Only one of the two "D"s is yellow because your word only has one "D" in it. (Your word is "DUCHY".) Is that the same spec as Wordle? How does Absurdle decide which D to highlight yellow/green (to indicate that it's a single D)? If I guess DUDES and the 2nd D happens to be a position match, does Absurdle color the first D yellow and 2nd D gray? Or does it prioritize coloring a green match, and only if there isn't a position match, coloring the first D in the string yellow?

#### 2022-01-11 18:17:19 by gheja:

A tip for a bit harder mode: retain only the last n guesses. Any clue that gets removed is no loger applicable (not even greens). Will you put it on GitHub? I guess I have more ideas >:) Also, thanks for this I love it!

#### 2022-01-11 18:17:42 by kimbo305:

The phrasing of the rule in Wordle: > The letter I is in the word but in the wrong spot. so at least Wordle's spec is vague wrt behavior with repeat guess letters. It could be interpreted to mean all repeat letters are potentially colored yellow to indicate existence of the letter in the solution.

#### 2022-01-11 18:41:40 by blastron:

kimbo305: I've tested the Wordle behavior for multiple letters fairly thoroughly. Additional instances of a letter behave exactly like new letters, with the twist that the keyboard only shows the color of the best match. If the word is JEWEL: - EXITS -> π¨β¬β¬β¬β¬ (the first E is in the wrong spot) - BEERS -> β¬π©π¨β¬β¬ (the second E is in the wrong spot) - GEESE -> β¬π©π¨β¬β¬ (there is no third E)

#### 2022-01-11 19:56:56 by ChrisL:

The keyboard is not reflecting what has been selected. It regularly leaves letters that have been eliminated light grey, and in my last game darkened C, which while not in the correct spot was in the word.

#### 2022-01-11 20:09:49 by qntm:

I can't help you with that unless you share the full game you played.

#### 2022-01-11 21:51:50 by mucow:

I was curious, where did you find the word list used by Wordle? I want to try something of my own with it. Thanks!

#### 2022-01-12 01:45:32 by gheja:

Just a note: the latest change breaks Zach Wegner's 4 guess game in the post.

#### 2022-01-12 05:21:27 by kimbo305:

@blastron Thanks for teasing that out! > Additional instances of a letter behave exactly like new letters This doesn't jibe for me, at least with the wording of the rule. Re the 3rd E in GEESE -- if it's turly an undifferentiated letter E, it should still show yellow... since the solution has an E in another position. Again, the rule: > The letter I is in the word but in the wrong spot. The clear reason it's behaving as we see is that the "letter I is in the word" check is implemented as "there is a yet-unpaired I in the solution that's in a different spot" The matching up still seems complex to resolve. Prehaps... for a set of repeat letters: - check for green matches first. Any green matches remove solution letters from further consideration. - if there are still uncolored guess letters, and still unmatched solution letters, check for yellow matches, starting from the left - if there are still uncolored guess letters, color gray If that's accurate, I think my distaste for it is simply that there's a left-right asymmetry to the operation of the coloring. A quick think about that proposed algo suggest it doesn't have to do anything special. Could just say "for the set of letters in the guess word"

#### 2022-01-12 05:23:19 by kimbo305:

Ah, the rule could be make sense for me if it read: > This letter I in the guess word is in the solution word, but in the wrong spot. And each guess word's letters are distinctly identified. And still subject to the left-right asymmetry.

#### 2022-01-12 11:03:41 by hmmatea:

@gheja the four-turn game still works, but with a different final word now: AIERY, CANST, DOLMA, PUPAL.

#### 2022-01-13 01:27:33 by Tuutti:

@jrtom I got to 30 by starting with 'boobs'. Stopped there because I couldn't be bothered to micro manage the remaining steps with letter placements and possible duplicates etc. Turns out I would have screwed it up anyway because I thought the word was 'fiver' when 'fever' was still (obviously) on the table.

#### 2022-01-13 14:12:32 by Squirrel:

Do you have the word list used by wordle handy? I interested in using it

#### 2022-01-13 14:19:30 by qntm:

Check the Wordle source code (or the Absurdle source code).

#### 2022-01-13 20:34:38 by Nathan:

Starting with "raise" then "count" will always produce nothing from the first word a green "O" in the second word. the next word will always have a "y" in the final spot. However the final word has been different every time. I have done this about 5 times in a row now.

#### 2022-01-13 21:44:50 by Vicki:

Thanks for this, have been enjoying starting repeatedly with the same word to see how few goes I can finish in. But I don't understand what happens when I click "Give up" - unless I've genuinely got to a one word bucket now does it choose a word to show as THE answer?

#### 2022-01-13 21:48:20 by Aegeus:

@Nathan: Isn't that how it's supposed to work? The final word is always different depending on what you guess. Since there are a lot of words matching _O__Y, you can end up going through a lot of different alternatives before you back the game into a corner. Here's a game where you can swap the last two words and it works either way: RAISE COUNT MOLDY BOGGY BOOZY BOBBY If you put BOBBY before BOOZY, BOOZY will be the final word instead. Whichever one you guess first will be wrong.

#### 2022-01-13 22:31:26 by Nathan:

I guess I am curious about how the logic works. So starting with RAISE none of the letters will be in the word pool. Does the next pool only contain words with -O---? That would be the only way the O would be green in the second word. So then the third pool only contains words with -O--Y? Why is that the case? Are there any words with -O-- that don't end in a Y? Maybe just given the first word constraint the word pool drops drastically to only end up with -o--y words.

#### 2022-01-13 22:48:55 by jitzertw:

I only read the first several replies and apologise if anyone else came up with the following. You're basically always playing the same game again if you stick with the same guessing sequence. Can you make a variation of Absurdle where the player defines between 0 and 5 or the original letters to be fixed and unchangeable by the game? A setting 5 would make this game the same as Wordle. A setting of 0 is the current version of Absurdle. Any setting in between would get us variations and more interesting games in my opinion, which require you to guess a word at different levels of game viciousness.

#### 2022-01-13 22:50:22 by D:

Isn't this buggy? If you guess PIOUS then DRAWL, letter A is revealed as good, even though BENCH is more adversarial. Annoying.

I keep getting a 6 or 7 word game this way:<br/> BEARD<br/> POINT<br/> FLUSH<br/> MUCKY<br/> MUGGY<br/> MUMMY<br/> The only thing that varies is the order of the last three words, but they are the same three words.

#### 2022-01-14 04:19:27 by phi:

I actually find a more fun challenge is to pick a word and attempt to corner absurdle into choosing that word. Trying this with "apple" I managed to get it in 13 (after several attempts) by choosing words with none of [aple] and then words with those letters in the wrong places, and it seems viable. There are likely some easy words (ones containing mostly rare letters perhaps) and some that are impossible (or could all words be possible? might be something interesting to figure out)

#### 2022-01-14 06:13:38 by Fingers:

Is it possible to space out the lower row of buttons a bit - from the keyboard and from each other? Not unfrequently when I try to press a letter on the bottom row of the keyboard I accidentally hit "give up" or "random" and there goes the game...

#### 2022-01-14 08:51:30 by Pteri3:

I'm trying to be random but I almost always get a word with _a__y. Guess I tend to think of basic words. For dummies like me this makes it unfun fairly quickly. Thanks for the brief diversion though

#### 2022-01-14 11:39:58 by ledge:

@hmmatea, the four turn game with PUPAL shouldn't work; LAUGH is still available after PUPAL and it should give greys for the Ps and a yellow for the .

#### 2022-01-14 11:40:31 by ledge:

(a yellow for the U that should read)

#### 2022-01-14 11:50:07 by qntm:

No, "LAUGH" is not available at that point. We know that the second letter is not an "A" because when we guessed "CANST" the "A" was highlighted in yellow, not green.

#### 2022-01-14 12:55:06 by EtaoinWu:

The fact that qntm watches jan Misali's video made me happy, somehow.

#### 2022-01-14 13:54:33 by Sp:

Can you add a feature where "copy to clipboard" gives the exact same starting word? Is this even shareable with friends to compare number of guesses as the secret word keeps changing?

#### 2022-01-14 15:11:12 by ledge:

@qntm ah ok i missed that, thanks!

#### 2022-01-14 15:15:07 by Aegeus:

@Nathan: The game doesn't pick what the "pool" is until after you've made your guess. The decision that the second letter is an O doesn't happen after RAISE, it happens after COUNT. The game considers all the different ways to highlight the word COUNT. It could highlight the O in green, it could highlight the C and U in green (which would narrow it to words like CHUCK and CHUMP), or maybe it could highlight the O in green and the N in yellow (words like BONGO). It could even leave everything blank (which would narrow it to a very short list of words, like GLYPH or FLYBY) But highlighting just the O in green leaves the most possible words remaining, so that's what it chooses.

#### 2022-01-14 15:38:28 by squirdle:

"Isn't this buggy? If you guess PIOUS then DRAWL, letter A is revealed as good, even though BENCH is more adversarial. Annoying." I had the same experience. If it helps with debugging, I guessed CRASH and BILGE and got a yellow "E", even though there are plenty of words that don't use any of the letters in crash or bilge, much less the E. Would be interesting to see why that's happening in the code.

#### 2022-01-14 16:10:20 by qntm:

Absurdle defines "more adversarial" as "leaves the maximum number of remaining possible words". If you guessed "PIOUS" and then "DRAWL"... A response of β¬β¬π¨β¬β¬ leaves 50 remaining words: "ABBEY", "AGENT", "ANNEX", "BAGGY", "BATCH", "BATHE", "BATTY", "BEGAN", "BEGAT", "CABBY", "CACHE", "CAGEY", "CANNY", "CATCH", "CATTY", "CHEAT", "EATEN", "ENEMA", "FACET", "FANCY", "FANNY", "FATTY", "GAFFE", "GAMMA", "HATCH", "HAVEN", "HYENA", "JAZZY", "KAYAK", "KEBAB", "MAGMA", "MAMMA", "MAMMY", "MANGA", "MANGE", "MANGY", "MATCH", "MATEY", "MAYBE", "MECCA", "NANNY", "TABBY", "TACKY", "TAFFY", "TAKEN", "TANGY", "TATTY", "THETA", "VEGAN" and "YACHT". A response of β¬β¬β¬β¬β¬ would leave only 24: "BEECH", "BEEFY", "BEGET", "BENCH", "CHECK", "CHEEK", "EJECT", "EMCEE", "ENEMY", "EVENT", "FEMME", "FENCE", "FETCH", "GEEKY", "HEFTY", "HENCE", "HYMEN", "JETTY", "TEETH", "TENET", "TENTH", "THEFT", "THEME" and "THYME". This is actually only the fifth best response.

#### 2022-01-14 17:42:38 by Tom P:

Maybe I just cracked it. I always choose 2 words at first: READY, and GUILT The software will always make them wrong, but now I've put it in the corner, because the only vowel left is "O", and there's not many words with only "O" as vowel. Then next I will choose the word SMOCK to use the most common letters that goes with "O" From there, 2 or 3 more guesses will give me the answer :) Ok, not much as "cracked", but as I found a way to beat it faster

#### 2022-01-14 17:57:05 by Kate:

Thank you for this addictive game!

#### 2022-01-14 20:24:48 by rschwep:

A few people have suggested it, but I think trying to reverse engineer the game to give you a specific answer is a delightful challenge. My buddy and I have been trying with the word DARTS. We're admittedly stumped. If anyone's bored and wants to give that a shot....we'd love to know an answer

#### 2022-01-14 21:33:55 by Eric:

BULGE DORIC NIFTY CHIMP SWAMI

#### 2022-01-14 21:53:27 by Howard_NYC:

missing: FLOOD REQUEST: colors on this chat page are shearingly painful... please consider discontinuing the blue coloring OPINION: wonderfully frustrating

#### 2022-01-14 23:45:08 by Durables:

I posted this elsewhere but canβt find it, or it got deleted. Apologies if repost. Shouldnβt the word βfugalβ be included in the bucket after βdolmaβ is guessed in the four turn example given? Isnβt βfugalβ still possible after βpupal?β

#### 2022-01-15 00:55:31 by qntm:

Both Wordle and Absurdle have two word lists: one list of possible answers, and another much longer list of more obscure words which are allowed as guesses but which can never appear as answers. "FUGAL" appears in the second list.

#### 2022-01-15 01:22:03 by cyrus:

this'll solve any random guess start within 6 tries https://freshman.dev/wordle based on the 4 turn example, starting with AIERY: AIERY CLOTS SPAWN QUASH

#### 2022-01-15 01:37:38 by Nick:

I play a lot of word puzzle games so I have excellent word sense. The algorithmic proofs interest me. The post regarding 4 guesses as a minimum was a bit thin on details. How many 4 guess sequences exist? Just the one? I have been playing with iteration. Pick a word, and force a solution. Use the solution as the first word of a new game. So far, I have found Absurdle will loop after 5 games if I started with TREAD. What sequence of guesses (and how few needed) will make the game loop?

#### 2022-01-15 01:52:34 by Br. Bill:

Nick, every sequence of guesses will make the game loop.

#### 2022-01-15 01:55:59 by Br. Bill:

Here's the fastest I could force the word PROXY (7 guesses). If anyone can do it faster, let me know! LATHE BINDS MUCKS GLAZE FEVER WHIPS PROXY

#### 2022-01-15 04:07:52 by Aaron:

@qntm great idea, very fun concept, thank you for putting it up :)

#### 2022-01-15 04:51:49 by Allen K:

I was pleased by a four-turn game today! EARLY POINT CUBIC FICUS

#### 2022-01-15 09:41:10 by Dan Q:

I implemented a game of hangman that "cheats" using this same general strategy, a few years ago, if you're interested: https://danq.me/2019/09/26/cheatman/

#### 2022-01-15 10:12:47 by sthen:

If you can't see the incorrect guesses showing up differently on the keyboard, and have a browser extension like 'Dark reader', try disabling it for the site.

Perhaps an interesting subset of games worthy of isolated study are the All-Gray games, where you're restricted to giving words that produce a β¬β¬β¬β¬β¬ response until you have enough information to force out the answer in one fell swoop. If a word ever returns a π¨, or between one and four π©, that's no good and you have to start over. Clearly, no game that follows this rule can ever target a word that has a valid anagram on the list (e.g. GAMMA/MAGMA), nor can it have any "replacement anagrams" in which one letter is replaced by an additional copy of another letter from the same word (e.g. any set of All-Gray clues that's still alive for INBOX will also necessarily still be alive for ONION, in which the B and X are replaced with second copies of N and O, so INBOX can never be the final word). Under this rule, 5-turn games are still possible, even if you have to comply with a hypothetical Hard Mode implementation, such as ZARFS-THYME-CLUNG-OXBOW-VIVID. It seems unlikely that this variant could admit a 4-turn solution, since not only would there have to be a set of 11 letters that only has a single 5-letter word between them (including repeated letters), the third word also has to be sufficiently disambiguating between every remaining possibility that the game wouldn't rather give you another bucket instead. Any takers?

#### 2022-01-15 14:04:15 by NP:

There's now a problem after the interface changed. On iPhone SE, after 5 guesses the keyboard hides what you are typing, requiring you to rotate the phone to see what you've put on the current guess. The difficulty is compounded because after 2 guesses, the keyboards starts shrinking making it harder to type. It seemed to be fine before.

#### 2022-01-15 14:42:47 by Monica:

I'm still confused about the beginning of the game. How does it decide its response after my first turn? In wordle my first guess is usually ADIEU, so that's what I started with here. It tells me the A is yellow and the rest is gray. But E is more common than A in English, so wouldn't a yellow E give me a bigger bucket than a yellow A?

#### 2022-01-15 14:46:12 by qntm:

Negative. If your first guess is "ADIEU", there are 284 possible secret words which give a yellow "A". However, there are only 197 possible secret words which give a yellow "E".

#### 2022-01-15 15:09:41 by qntm:

NP: Can you share screenshots of what you're talking about?

#### 2022-01-15 17:46:32 by hmmatea:

@rschwep: since the word DARTS is not in the answers word list, it is not possible to force it.

#### 2022-01-15 20:34:43 by hmmatea:

you can force any word to be the answer. here is a list of ways to do that for any word you want: https://github.com/mhavos/mhavos/blob/15b5a90e425ece06ab5585db1c05fa5392d96b13/solved.txt (not optimized)

#### 2022-01-15 20:56:21 by tania:

hi! ran into a bug today! everything was working fine yesterday but today I canβt enter any letters, when I click letters on the keyboard nothing happens :(

#### 2022-01-15 21:19:12 by BB:

Closed browser in the middle of a game. Now only Random Guess and Give Up buttons work. Typing won't enter letters. Tried clearing cache, closing tab and browser, no luck.

#### 2022-01-15 21:25:56 by Omegatron:

^ Same issue here on Android 8 with every browser I try

I have the same issue as Tania! It was working last night around 2330 Pacific time, but now on Firefox mobile with Gboard, I can't enter letters :_(

#### 2022-01-15 21:31:32 by ribblefizz:

Same issue for me, letters won't register - playing on Chrome browser in phone. Tried clearing cache/cookies, but no joy. Thank you for this fantastic time-sponge!

#### 2022-01-15 21:36:33 by qntm:

Thank you everyone... I created some new automated tests to prevent that kind of thing from happening, but it turns out the tests themselves were faulty :-/ This is now fixed.

#### 2022-01-15 22:28:08 by Sp:

I don't get it.. Isn't there a secret word it starts off with, that has fixed letters? How can this always play out the same? EARLY POINT CUBIC FICUS

#### 2022-01-15 22:38:41 by jet_silver:

It is a fun and annoying game, thank you for creating it.

#### 2022-01-16 02:03:55 by JH:

Bug report: iPod Touch (6th generation) iOS 12.5.5 Browser: Safari Bug: The 6th row is blocked by the on-screen keyboard and so one can only make 5 guesses.

#### 2022-01-16 06:21:58 by tania:

thank you for fixing the bug from this morning!!!

#### 2022-01-16 13:20:49 by Jymbob:

The fake words in the wordle list are somewhat annoying. Has anyone managed a 4 word sequence without using any fake words? Loose definition of fake word: doesn't appear is a search result for [word] definition

#### 2022-01-16 13:22:50 by Jymbob:

Just saw Sp managed it a couple of comments back. Good work.

#### 2022-01-16 13:53:49 by FurbyFubar:

Really fun and cool and all. I'm sort of sad that this page listed the best solution so far instead of at least hiding it behinds a spoiler tag for anyone wanting to find it. But there are enough other interesting questions to analyze if I want to be need sniped I suppose. Also, I would greatly appreciate if the buttons for "give up" and "random guess" had an extra confirmation dialog box of "Are you sure?", since I've only used them by mistake.

#### 2022-01-17 01:43:45 by gheja:

The "undo last guess" is a great addon but I use it accidentally too often - I usually just press the backspace several times when wnat to clear the whole word.<br/> <br/> Maybe adding a separate button to pop up the extra options would help.<br/> <br/> This would also solve the accidental "give up" and "random guess" presses, too.<br/> <br/> Also, I really appreciate you're keep working on this project! It is really getting better day by day :)

#### 2022-01-17 06:11:58 by Vaidhy:

You can force the same result every time using this sequence: ARISE POUTY FOGGY MOLDY BOOBY WOOZY

#### 2022-01-17 10:47:45 by hmmatea:

@Vaidhy: every sequence of guesses will produce the same result when repeated.

Nice game

#### 2022-01-17 22:15:02 by House:

I did not know the square root of minus one was "i" lol

#### 2022-01-17 22:45:30 by Noah:

Would be fun If you did a daily challenge. Have a different word as a first guess each day, and have to follow the βhard modeβ rules from Wordle. Let people try it unlimited times and see what the minimum number of guesses from that starting word is. Iβd think thereβd be a decent amount of daily variation - most starting words canβt be solved in 4, and using the βhardβ rules further restricts. Iβd guess most days would be solvable in five or six - some might take more?

#### 2022-01-18 06:19:28 by Stefan:

Trying to force SQUID to be the last word, I got it to QUILL with QUI in yellow and S and D unguessed (as well as B); if I guess SQUIB it ends the game, but if I guess SQUID it gives me SQUI in green and makes me guess again.

#### 2022-01-18 08:20:30 by hmmatea:

did the algorithm change? it seems to me that it no longer picks the largest bucket. for example, if the first guess is ALONE, the largest bucket should be YGGGG (bucket size 182) - but the app picks all gray (bucket size 181). is this a mistake in my code, or a bug?

#### 2022-01-18 11:58:25 by Samantha:

I like this better than the original Wordle! I find it fascinating to look back on the computerβs βplayβ when I finish. Is it possible to add a final summary page which shows the number of different words the computer had at its disposal, after each guess that you made?

#### 2022-01-18 12:03:27 by qntm:

If you're playing on desktop, hit F12 to see that information.

#### 2022-01-18 14:51:50 by wlm1954:

A really nice one I found today: TRIAL ERROR GUESS BROOD THINK ..... (here you go) Actually, now the solution can be known, there are no guesses left. Can't say that I devised this intentionally; I just found these five words funny (and so I did not follow the first lead that was provided -- with 'lead' being a dubious concept in the context of Absurdle, of course) and was quite surprised that the solution fits so well. A different order of the input of course results in quite different solutions.

#### 2022-01-18 18:17:20 by e-eight:

Is there some sort of tendency that the final word will have repeated letters? Most of the words that I have got had at least one letter repeated twice.

#### 2022-01-18 20:53:26 by Atticus:

PROXY forced in 5 turns: AISLE BUTCH WRONG PROOF PROXY

#### 2022-01-18 20:57:12 by laura:

my personal game is trying to find starting words that force a hint. the one I've come across so far on my own is QUEAN; adding to that ADIEU from Monica's comment. I'm also developing words I like to use to get letters that annoy me out of the way. so far: GLYPH and BOUGH (not simultaneously)

#### 2022-01-19 01:09:30 by mule:

Just checking on the tie-break logic you described. By my reckoning if the first guess is ARIEL with β¬β¬β¬β¬β¬ as the result and then the second guess is SCODY then the either π©β¬π©β¬β¬ or β¬β¬π¨β¬β¬ would leave 15 remaining possibilities. I would have thought that to break the tie Absurdly should respond with β¬β¬π¨β¬β¬ but it responds with π©β¬π©β¬β¬. Am I missing something?

#### 2022-01-19 08:53:26 by hmmatea:

submitting the word ALONE still produces a β¬β¬β¬β¬β¬ result, even though the bucket of π¨β¬β¬β¬β¬ is larger by one word. i'm pretty sure that's not supposed to happen.

#### 2022-01-19 11:13:06 by Samantha:

Thatβs really kind, thank you! Iβm actually on mobile, but itβs easy to reproduce my game from a screenshot, and I can look it up on a desktop :-)

#### 2022-01-19 13:09:07 by KB:

I love this game! I wish the βgive upβ and βdelete last answerβ buttons were farther away from the other buttons. I have hit them on accident multiple timesβ¦

#### 2022-01-19 15:06:46 by Tiger:

Why 110 buckets? Shouldnβt it be 3^5 = 243?

#### 2022-01-19 17:02:12 by Nick:

Is it possible to have the βchoose random wordβ option available for the first round of hard mode?

#### 2022-01-19 20:23:10 by hmmatea:

@Tiger: i'm pretty sure there are only 3^5 - 5 = 238 buckets, since it is not possible to receive a score of 4 greens and 1 yellow (5 different scores).

#### 2022-01-20 00:33:57 by qntm:

That is explained in the second paragraph of this writeup.

#### 2022-01-20 15:05:36 by Matthew:

hmmatea: there's a problem, but I don't think it's the tie-break logic. On guessing ALONE, the console reports β¬β¬β¬β¬β¬ and π¨β¬β¬β¬β¬ both have 181 possible words, so Absurdle picks the former. But π¨β¬β¬β¬β¬ should have 182 - it is missing MAMMY, which is in the official solutions list. Looking at the latest Absurdle source, the dictionaries are stored in some clever new way. It succeeds on DADDY and MAMMA so not just a three-repeats problem (nor does it have something against parental nicknames).

#### 2022-01-20 18:24:41 by Sam:

Thanks for making this! Some thoughts for anyone looking to play with friends: solve Wordle first, and then either everyone uses that day's Wordle answer as their first Absurdle guess, or you can all try to force Absurdle to have the same final answer as Wordle.

#### 2022-01-21 02:05:02 by The Man from UNCOOL:

Great game:Β  I started, not really understanding how its outcome differed from Wordle, and couldn't get it from explanations by those recommending it to me.Β  Just going ahead and doing it has worked.Β  I'm finding that overthinking it hasn't produced the 3Β Γ 5-scores in the first 6 games. Is there a brief layperson's explanation why the 'allowed' words are restricted to 2k+?Β  Would it not work if all 10k+ were permitted?Β  Does that adversely affect players with broader vocabularies?Β  Thnx

#### 2022-01-21 11:58:20 by qntm:

Which words appear in which list is a completely subjective judgement call, but most of the words in the 10k list are quite obscure. The game would "work", but it would be kind of unfair if "AAHED" or "QURSH" or "XYLYL" or "PHPHT" were possible answers. At least, *Wordle* would be very unfair if that were the case. For Absurdle it would be kind of on brand, and potentially very funny. I might add a mode where that's what happens. I'll think about it. Thank you for the idea.

#### 2022-01-21 12:18:40 by El Drusba:

I imagine the word list is that way to make it more friendly and enjoyable for the majority of players. There's no coding reason for it. People would lose interest if the solutions were always obscure things like "abmho" or "mysid". This doesn't adversely affect people with a broader vocabularies since they are still able to use these words to their advantage when guessing. Thanks, qntm, this is a lot of fun. Very pleased with myself for finding a 4 line solution today :)

#### 2022-01-21 17:56:21 by qntm:

Interesting edge case there! However, the game is behaving correctly. You guessed "YAWNY", with two Ys. Exact matches are prioritised over inexact matches. If the secret word had a Y at position 5, then you'd have an exact match, and the response would have been β¬π©β¬β¬π©. However, instead, the response was π¨π©β¬β¬β¬. This indicates that there is NOT a Y at position 5. This eliminates the word "JAZZY". Thank you for the exacting test of Absurdle's logic! I believe Wordle would behave identically.

#### 2022-01-21 19:12:12 by aschig:

Have been having fun with absurdle. Thanks. I hit the random button 6 times and got 6 duds, and on the 7th looking at the letters excluded I was able to get 5 greens :-) Reminded me vividly of the logic puzzle where two opponents are trying turn by turn to guess the positive integer on their forehead which is either one bigger or one smaller than their opponents. Their is a series of "I don't know"s and then suddenly one of them announces correctly the number on their forehead. EAGER BULLY SPUNK MECCA CHAMP SHOOT VIVID

#### 2022-01-21 22:29:54 by Bok:

I was looking at a post above and noticed: β¬β¬β¬β¬β¬ RESIT β¬β¬β¬β¬β¬ WOUND β¬β¬π¨β¬β¬ CLAMP Why does Absurdle go for β¬β¬π¨β¬β¬ here? As far as I can tell, that only leaves 3 possible answers: kayak, baggy and jazzy. If Absurdle instead went for β¬β¬π¨π©β¬, it would leave 4 possible answers: gamma, mammy, mamma and magma. Matthew noticed this too: does Absurdle exclude the word mammy somehow?

#### 2022-01-21 22:34:32 by noodle:

I love that the word buckets are logged. It's really satisfying to see the game run in that way.

#### 2022-01-22 09:10:10 by hmmatea:

@Matthew, @Bok, @qntm: i compared the dictionaries in the new source code with the previous ones, and have identified the mistake: the answers word list is missing the word MAMMY, which, however, does appear in the accepted word list (only words that are not valid puzzle answers appear in this one).

Indeed.

#### 2022-01-22 15:47:16 by Joel Shore:

Fun game! What does Absurdle do if there are two "buckets" of the same (maximum) size? I would assume it would choose the "bucket" that has a lower "correctness" score, but that means it would have to choose some way to score the correctness (e.g., point values for green vs yellow). Also, there would need to be a way to resolve ties if two same-size "buckets" also have the same "correctness" score.

#### 2022-01-22 15:58:27 by qntm:

Well guessed. There is some tie-breaking logic which assigns a "correctness" score to each possible response, and chooses the least correct response. It starts by counting greens and then by counting yellows... after that it (somewhat arbitrarily) just works from left to right. Every possible response has a different score, so it is impossible for this to also be a tie. There is a comment by me further above which gives examples.

#### 2022-01-22 20:49:51 by NP:

@qntm please see https://ibb.co/Wn0DMFs Keyboard hides the later guesses. I see someone else reported this above too (if you rotate the screen you can see what you've typed) @The Man from UNCOOL You can also check my link, DOUGH worked for me

#### 2022-01-22 21:26:48 by qntm:

NP: what browser and device are you using? The heading bar and keyboard are also not rendering correctly. Do you have some kind of browser extension which could be interfering with rendering?

#### 2022-01-22 22:27:55 by gogoK:

Love this game! You rock. Would it be possible to have a mode where you can say how many remaining possible words there are with each turn? Also, just fyi, my husband and I played with a similar set of starting words. He ended with WAFER, but I noticed that he still had letters available to form PAPER, which was my final word. Something just a tiny bit off with an algorithm. Almost made me want to go troubleshoot. :)

#### 2022-01-22 23:42:01 by bofstein:

Very cool game, thank you, and happy to see dark mode added! My only issue is that the colors are backwards from Wordle in that on the Absurdle keyboard, dark grey keys could be in the word while light grey keys have been excluded. This way is much harder because my eyes are more drawn to the light grey on dark background and find them easier to read. That plus Wordle being the opposite means I keep accidentally switching them in my head and thinking the excluded letters are actually the ones I have available.

#### 2022-01-23 01:41:25 by The Man from UNCOOL:

Another line 3 baulk: FORTY WWWWW SWIPE WWWWG BUDGE [rejected] BULGE accepted and attempt continued DOUGH was accepted in other lines. Yet to retry BUDGE Using latest update of Windows 10 on ASUS X551C

#### 2022-01-23 01:50:42 by qntm:

I am unable to recreate the issue you're having. I also can't think of anything which could possibly be causing it. If you can capture video of the problem occurring I might be able to help more.

#### 2022-01-23 01:54:30 by The Man from UNCOOL:

BUDGE behaved on other lines

#### 2022-01-23 02:09:17 by Enjoying it!:

Hereβs another way to play: try to create the longest string possible (but playing βhard modeβ so it is *necessarily* long). By the way thank you for confirming that the Absurdle algorithm doesnβt already choose the longest game route!

#### 2022-01-23 16:37:48 by Thomas:

Please remove offensive word "faggy" from dictionary. It is very derogatory.

Done, thank you.

#### 2022-01-23 19:19:47 by The Man from UNCOOL:

Both those rejected words were behaving perfectly well today. Ho humβ¦

#### 2022-01-24 03:28:58 by Sudharsha:

Loving this. Another way to play the game: Think of a five letter final word. Since you know the code logic, manipulate guesses to make Absurdle arrive at the final word as the answer. So, the game changes from being one where you try to find the final word to trying to find the right guesses. Example. I thought of the word GREAT, I arrived at it by playing: COULD MINES HAVER WAXER PARRY ABATE TREAT GREAT

#### 2022-01-24 04:31:19 by mule:

A small think, but it would be nice to adopt the Wordle convention of a * next to the score when copying the game result if the game was played on HARD mode: Absurdle 4/β * π¨β¬β¬β¬β¬ β¬π¨β¬β¬β¬ β¬β¬π¨β¬π¨ π©π©π©π©π©

#### 2022-01-24 05:45:16 by TeamDman:

I made a tool to help with word games like wordle using regex, may be interesting. https://teamdman.ca/wordle.html

#### 2022-01-24 07:13:07 by Xander:

Forced "power" in 7 guesses: Absurdle 7/β china dumbs greet yokel vower rower power

#### 2022-01-24 09:25:53 by NP:

@qntm It's iPhone SE (the small sized one) iOS 14.3 Safari browser, private browsing mode. Know nothing about extensions so I assume I did not install any. This is the full browser string I got from some website: Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 14_3 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/605.1.15 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/14.0.2 Mobile/15E148 Safari/604.1

#### 2022-01-24 12:25:24 by Matthew:

The second para of the blog should be corrected: Absurdle does not use the same word lists as Wordle. Redactions from the valid-guess list makes a limited difference, but redacting a word from the solutions list (Absurdle has 2314, Wordle has 2315) potentially changes a whole lot of game paths.

#### 2022-01-24 14:55:57 by Maxwell Pelic:

This game is amazing, and inspired me to make a bot to solve it! I agree with what Zach thinks, that there can't be a combination with less than 4 guesses. That would require the first guess to have the highest bucket of less than 243, and the second word to have only buckets of 0 or 1, and no word exists like that (unless I messed up my code somewhere, lol)

#### 2022-01-25 01:17:33 by Ben Posnick:

Bug to report: the winning word was "cinch" but "winch", "pinch", and "finch" are the only words in the Wordle word list that match the regex ".INCH". Not sure if the game was intended to have the same word bank or not though.

#### 2022-01-25 01:19:08 by qntm:

Are you saying "CINCH" isn't a word?

#### 2022-01-25 22:49:19 by JDK:

Made it to SUSHI in 4 with unobscure words. Ayrie is obscure, early is not. Canst is obscure, point is not. PS why isn't scifi a valid choice word? PPS snool is a word? What a Scottish obscurity which seems to mean both a cause and effect or two opposite things: to bully and to snivel. PPS I got to another 4 absurdle using "polka" while I happened to be listening to Brave Combo's "music for squares" and "polkas for a gloomy world" which seemed to be appropriate! Do something different polka is a classic!

#### 2022-01-26 03:00:50 by sp:

Hey Qntm.. still waiting to understand.. Isn't there a secret word it starts out with? How can this always play out the same? EARLY POINT CUBIC FICUS

#### 2022-01-26 18:00:51 by letranger:

sp- have you read the article? the secret word changes based on your guesses

#### New comment by :

Plain text only. Line breaks become `<br/>`

The square root of minus one: