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Wordle Player Cheat Sheet: Here Are the Most Popular Letters Used in the English Language

 Wordle Player Cheat Sheet: Here Are the Most Popular Letters Used in the English Language

There are plenty of different ways to play Wordle, The New York Times’ engaging online word-guessing game. Personally, I like to stick with starter words that I know feature some of the most frequently used letters in the English language. (TRAIN and CLOSE are among my favorites.)

But exactly which letters are the most commonly used? I reached out to the big brains at the Oxford English Dictionary — you know, the whopping, multi-volume dictionary that no one actually owns, but that your school librarian adored. An OED representative sent me a list in which staff analyzed all of the main entries in the concise version of the dictionary.

“It’s worth noting that the piece is pretty old,” the OED representative said apologetically. “It mentions that the stats are from Concise Oxford English Dictionary in 2004, although current colleagues aren’t sure when the piece itself was written, and I’m afraid we don’t have any newer analysis of this sort.”

The list may be 20 years old, but I’m going with it. The alphabet isn’t like ice cream flavors or musical acts — no new, trendy letters have been introduced in that time. So whether you’re just getting into Wordle, or you want to shake up your starter words and make sure they’re still hitting the most common letters, this list is for you.

S begins the most English words

The most common letter is no surprise to most people: It’s E, and it’s immediately followed by another vowel, A. And those letters are much, much more popular than the final two letters in the OED’s list, which are J and Q. (Anyone else surprised that J is used less than X and Z?) 

“The letter E is over 56 times more common than Q in forming individual English words,” the OED analysis found. 

It notes that “there are more English words beginning with the letter S than with any other letter.”

So Wordle players, bookmark this article, and you might find yourself doing a little better in upcoming games. Here are the letters of the alphabet ranked according to how frequently they showed up in the 2004 Concise Oxford English Dictionary.

The most common letters used in English

  1. E

  2. A

  3. R

  4. I

  5. O

  6. T

  7. N

  8. S

  9. L

  10. C

  11. U

  12. D

  13. P

  14. M

  15. H

  16. G

  17. B

  18. F

  19. Y

  20. W

  21. K

  22. V

  23. X

  24. Z

  25. J

  26. Q

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