"How is this a word," my friend asked us on our WhatsApp group chat, three minutes after midnight on 15 February, as she sent in her Wordle #241 result.
I was a bit surprised, so I replied, "This is a common word!"
After all, I had solved the Wordle in less than two minutes. It was AROMA.
"Absolutely not," my friend insisted. "This is a proper noun."
I had no clue of what she was talking about, so I texted her privately. And to my astonishment, she was right.
Her version of Wordle did not have AROMA as the correct answer. Instead, it was AGORA.
AGORA wasn't a proper noun as my friend had claimed.
Public open spaces in Ancient Greece that were used for markets and gatherings were also called agoras.
What was shocking, however, was that Wordle #241 seemed to have two answers!
A Twitter user suggested that the "answer was similar but different depending on" how a player accessed the game.
"AROMA on NYTimes. AGORA on that Power Language site…," he added.
Regardless of the reason, there are many aspects of Wordle that make the game such a delight to play.
One such aspect is that a person can only solve one Wordle per day.
Another is that everyone solves the same puzzle – that is, a new word is presented for solving at midnight every day, and that word is the same for every player.
The final aspect is that the words are generally not so rare or hard that the players are unable to solve them. Until now.
The word for 16 February (Wordle #242), for instance, was CAULK.
According to Google's dictionary, the word refers to "a waterproof filler and sealant, used in building work and repairs."
I had never heard of it.
In fact, the only reason I could solve it was that I figured out the placement of A,C,L, and U, and I had two attempts left to guess my way through.
I wasn't the only who faced this issue.
Panisthi Jindal, a former student of architecture and a regular player of the game, told The Quint that if she didn't have the basic knowledge in history and architecture, she would have never been able to solve it.
My first thought honestly was: why is Wordle giving such highly specific words? Had I not studied architecture/ history, I wouldn't have gotten this word either.Panisthi Jindal, architect
Twitter also erupted with jokes and complaints about the difficulty of the word.
Many of the jokes mentioned Shashi Tharoor, the MP from Kerala who is reputed for using words from the English language that people can barely pronounce.
As you can see, most of the frustration is directed at The New York Times, which acquired the game last month (for an undisclosed price in the low-seven figures) from its owner and creator, Josh Wardle.
The NYT's Acquisition of Wordle
A press statement by the NYT on the matter said, "The Times remains focused on becoming the essential subscription for every English-speaking person seeking to understand and engage with the world. New York Times Games are a key part of that strategy."
Wardle, in his own statement, wrote that he has "long admired The Times’s approach to the quality of their games and the respect with which they treat their players. Their values are aligned with mine on these matters and I’m thrilled that they will be stewards of the game moving forward."
The rise in the game's difficulty level after the NYT acquisition has annoyed users, as encapsulated by the Twitterati.
On Wordle #241, Jindal said, "And the two-solution fiasco is bound to leave regular Wordle users confused and disappointed."
Saadhya Mohan, a former literature student of Lady Shri Ram College For Women, who also writes for The Quint, said that she was a "little disconcerted with the Wordle takeover."
While I love NYT's offering of word games (especially the daily crossword!), I'm a little disconcerted with the Wordle takeover. There has been a distinct change in the kind of words that Wordle is using as its answers, and the level seems to have been upped significantly.Saadhya Mohan, former student of literature
"Not that I'm a 'cynic' or can't take a little change in 'aroma', but the newly-developed difficulty can be off-putting at times," she added.