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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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Are You Playing Wordle and Pickleball?

Wordle and pickleball are popular games, and while they are much more different than alike, do you know how are they alike? 

            The differences are obvious. Wordle is an online five-letter word guessing game, a mental exercise.  Pickleball is an active, hit-the-ball-over-the-net physical game.

            Solving the unknown Wordle word can be a group activity, but is most often a solitary challenge.  Pickleball is played as singles, two people opposing each other, or doubles with two people on a team.

            Wordle was created to be played in two to three minutes; most pickleball games take 15 – 25 minutes.  There are exceptions:  a difficult Wordle puzzle takes longer and a pickleball game might be completed quickly, especially if one player is more skilled than the other.

            To play Wordle, only an electronic device is needed and it can be played anywhere, anytime.  Pickleball is played on a 20’ x 44’ marked court with a 36” high net in the middle of the court.   A small plastic ball is needed, and each player uses a paddle.

            Wordle was created in 2021 and Pickleball started in 1965, yet both are played by many people now. According to two of my friends, everybody is playing. One said, “I want to learn to play pickleball. It’s the fastest growing sport worldwide and everybody I know is playing.”   Another asked, “Will you show me how to play Wordle?  Everybody I know is playing.” 

            Because everybody is playing isn’t really what struck me as how Wordle and pickleball are alike, but it made me think about these two games.  Did you know that both were created by men for their loved ones?  Not to be marketed for the public, but just for family members?

            Josh Wardle, a software engineer, created Wordle for his wife because she loved words games.  Together they worked crossword puzzles and he wanted to her to have a fun, fast word game. 

            Pickleball was created when three men wanted to entertain their young children, who were restless and claimed boredom, so they handed the kids tennis paddles and a wiffle ball.  The men lowered a badminton net and made up the rules as they went along.

            Both games were shared with friends and relatives and then taken to the public by demand. 

On November 1, 2021, ninety people played Wordle, and today claims to have millions of users.  Pickleball has become so popular that every state in the USA and all Canadian provinces have pickleball venues and tournaments are held in most states.

            How did these two games get their names?  Mr. Wardle chose Wordle as a play on his name.  According to one of pickleball’s creators, it was named after a pet, a dog who often ran after the ball.  The dog’s name was Pickle.

            Two very different games. One a five-letter word game.  The other a hit-the-ball-over-the-net game.  The fact that both of these popular games were created for family members at someone’s home makes me smile.