Lexicon challenges for logophiles


Cecile Walsh '24, Page Editor

As someone who grew up playing the New York Times crossword with my Grandma and staring over my dad’s shoulder at Wordscapes, I would say that I have been exposed to a decently wide array of word games. As far as preferences go, there are several that I am inclined to like out of nostalgia alone, but there are also some that just force my brain to think in ways that only word games can.

For example, an obvious and classic example of a word game that is (mostly) universally loved and would be Scrabble. Who wouldn’t appreciate the leaps and bounds your brain goes through in order to get the perfect word using only a select amount of letters? Something about making ‘Q’s and ‘Z’s into words that you only really use in Scrabble hits the spot like nothing else. Sometimes it can be frustrating, purely because somehow, at least once, you end up with a surplus of ‘U’s, or something else that feels unusable, and often is just that- unusable.

Hangman, of course, is another childhood favorite- many people have memories filled with doodling the classic drawing and begrudgingly adding on various body parts. While this one technically requires less logistical brain power and is more luck-of-the-draw, it’s a fun, fast puzzle that leads to the tiny, yet powerful victories.

Boggle is one of my personal favorites, especially the pride that fills you when you realize you found the biggest word out of everyone. There’s nothing quite like the glint in someone’s eye when they’re able to find something like ‘episodes’ out of a bunch of letters mixed together.

There are more that are typically individualistic, such as the notorious New York Times crossword puzzle or what seems to be all the rage lately- Wordle.

The New York Times crossword puzzle is generally loads of fun toward the beginning of the week, when the clues don’t seem so grueling, but they aren’t so easy that it’s a walk in the park. It feels like a happy medium, until around Wednesday or Thursday, when things start getting more difficult, at least in my limited experience. Of course, I don’t know all that many celebrities’ middle names, or TV shows from the 1970’s, so that definitely plays a factor in how easy each day is for me. Personally, I prefer to sit on the sidelines and occasionally fill one in when I know one, so as to not ruin the fun by beating myself up for not knowing all these trivial details.

Wordle, of course, the game that has seen to take the internet by storm, is one that I play every day. The fact that there’s only one a day allows you to have fun with it, but not overuse it for four days, only to get sick of it and never want to play again. The words aren’t too complicated, and the fact that it’s only five letters narrows down the options by quite a bit. Wordle definitely encourages me to get out of bed some mornings, trying to get the challenge before any of my family or friends. Waiting for them to play to see who could get it in fewer tries allowing for some friendly, and at times necessary, competition.

There’s also Wordscapes, which is of course loads of fun, and something that is incredibly easy to pass time with. I am a big fan of Wordscapes, seeing as even if you don’t see all the words right away, a lot of the time you can just put random letters together and find new words. It takes just the right amount of brain power so it’s intriguing, but not too much to the point where it stresses you out or makes you resent words in general.

Even with all of these options, and many that I failed to mention, there are so many benefits and consequences of each word game out there. I definitely have my gripes with some (New York Times Crossword or Scrabble), but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t entertaining and worlds more fun for someone else. I also definitely have my preferences (Boggle, Worldle, Wordscapes), which happen to be more suited to my specific wants in a word game. These wants vary greatly from person-to-person, and in my opinion, you can’t really go wrong with any word game, seeing as they all generally have the same goal– to mildly frustrate you while also drawing you in via words that are probably worlds outside of your vocabulary.