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Play and Learn- Whether We Like It or Not

That’s not even a word. It’s not in the dictionary. I’ve never heard of that word.  Wordlers, people who solve daily Wordle puzzles, were angry.

Friday, September 16th, the five-letter word puzzle stumped the best of Wordlers.  I scrolled through FaceBook that morning and noted that three friends who regularly post successes hadn’t guessed the correct word in the six allotted tries. And a friend sent a mad emoji and her failed attempt.  Should I even try?

For you non-Wordlers, I didn’t see the words they tried, I saw colored boxes for the five letters: green for a correct letter in the correct place, orange for a letter in the word in an incorrect place, gray for a letter not in the word. 

On the fourth, fifth, and sixth tries, my friends’ puzzles showed one of two patterns. (I wish boxes were printed here in color.) Green, green, gray, green, green. Gray, green, green, green, green.

So, it was a word that is the hardest for me – a word that makes me play the rhyming game.  Rhyming words is a way many children learn to read.  After they learn the word ‘mad,’ they can substitute beginning letters and read dad, had, bad, sad, fad, and lad.  But the rhyming game is frustrating when there are many choices and only a few guesses.

I began with a word I sometimes use: adieu. The ‘e’ was in the right place and the word had an ‘a’ somewhere. I tried raked.  The ‘e’ and ‘a’ were in the right places, and there was a ‘r.’  Could it be maker, taker, farer, raker?

How about ‘r’ in three places:  rarer?  All were correct except the first letter and now I was stumped just like my friends had been. Barer, darer, carer, oarer, parer?  Were these all words?  My fourth guess was incorrect: carer.

For no good reason, my fifth guess was ‘parer’ and that was the answer.  A word I’ve never used.  Never heard. Never seen written.  One friend said that it wasn’t even in his online dictionary.

We all know what a paring knife is.  We pare down our wish list.  But who expected parer to be a Wordle word?

            According to my online Merriam-Webster dictionary, parer is a transitive verb meaning to trim off an outside or excess, as in to pare an apple or to pare fingernails. Vocabulary.com gives two definitions, both nouns: a small sharp knife used in paring fruits or vegetables, a manicurist who trims fingernails.

            The word originated from the Latin word parare, ‘prepare.’  The Middle English origin is derived from a French word that means to peel, to trim.  Which makes me wonder if parer was a common word during the time period from 1150 to 1450 in England?

            As friends ranted I listened, content that I had learned a new word, as did most Wordlers.  I discovered that only  41% of the millions of players guessed ‘parer.’ We learn through mistakes, whether we like it or not.

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