Wordle Error Guide – What Does Not in Word List Mean?

Zaddy isn't a Wordle, we checked.

With electronic word games, everything is black and white. While you and your friends around a table can look up a word in the dictionary and agree that it’s a real word, or accept slang, video games often have a predefined list of acceptable words.

Some games, like Scrabble, may update their lexicons as time goes on, but players are frequently running into a problem with Wordle not accepting certain words. What does the “not in word list” message mean? In short: You can’t use that word. In this guide, we’ll also explain exactly why that’s the case.

What Does Not in Word List Mean?

Even if the word you’re entering is real, this message means that the word isn’t in Wordle’s dictionary for use. You’ll need to come up with a different guess.

But What is the Word List?

You know how Wordle has one specific word for the entire world on any given day? That word is selected from a list of words. More specifically, it’s selected from an array of words. This array of words is hard-coded, meaning hand-defined. Josh Wardle, the game’s creator, either by hand or through some kind of program, has generated a long list of five-letter words and assigned each of these a date. The game doesn’t just pick a word at random — instead, it knows every single word it’s going to use over the next ten years or so.

To make things easier on players, Wordle only accepts words that are in this array and will one day be selected as the word of the day. It might not be for years down the line, but if you run into a word that the game won’t accept, you can safely never guess it again. (Unless the game is updated, which is very much possible.)

Likewise, if you find one that you didn’t expect, keep that in your pocket. It may come in handy down the line. (Like “Zaire,” for example. I didn’t even know country names were an option!)

What is Wordle?

The goal in Wordle is to guess the day’s five-letter word. That’s it. After your first guess, the game will flip over each tile, letting you know just how close you were to being correct. Grey tiles are letters that aren’t used in the word and will subsequently be greyed out on your virtual keyboard. Yellow tiles are in the word, but their placement within the word you just guessed is incorrect. Green tiles are both used in the word and are in the correct location.

You have a total of six tries to get the correct word before failing. The game does keep track of how many guesses it takes you, so there’s a certain amount of pride in having lots of quick solutions.

Having problems getting the correct word within six guesses? Try out our 13 best starting words and first guesses! They’ll help you narrow down the possibilities and lock in some relevant vowels or consonants.