Wordle Hurdle: Online Game Called Out as a Ripoff of TV Game Show ‘Lingo’

TV game-show enthusiasts are griping about the trendy game’s obvious similarities

This week’s game-changing announcement that The New York Times Company has purchased Wordle — the hit online game in which once a day players get six chances to guess a five-letter word — has re-ignited the annoyance of word game fans who were already I-R-A-T-E over the fact that Wordle is essentially the same game played on TV’s “Lingo” for more than 30 years.

The New York Times purchase of Wordle for low seven figures from its creator, software engineer Josh Wardle, seems to have added an edge to the debate. But both social media and game-related blogs have been at it for weeks noting the similarity of the games as Wordle has taken off as a widespread phenomenon.

The New York Times did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the similarity of the games.

Wrote one apparently astonished game fan on Twitter:

Another Twitter critic suggests that Wordle is just “recycled Hipster Lingo”:

However, “Sophia” ‘s Tweet suggests it’s “legit” better to be into Wordle than “Lingo” if you don’t want to channel Grandma and Grandpa:


And the New York Times deal prompted this “new game” proposal from “jp”:

“Lingo,” the game show created by American TV producer Ralph Andrews, was first broadcast in 1987 on British network ITV and has had various incarnations and syndications, as well as various hosts, over the years. The series became most popular in America in 2002 on Game Show Network, hosted by Chuck Woolery, where it ran for five years and more than 300 episodes, according to Buzzerblog.

The game briefly returned to GSN in 2011 with comedian Bill Engvall as host. That “mystery word game show” hailed from Zoo Productions, a division of All3media Group, and was touted in the 2011 announcement as being from “the producers of ‘Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?’ Also in 2011, GSN Games launched a free online version of Lingo on GSN.com. GSN Games is no longer part of the GSN company as of last year.

“Lingo”‘s most recent incarnation is a current British version of the show that launched in 2021, hosted by Adil Ray. There also are a free Lingo mobile game app, as well as other online clones of Lingo, currently available.

The rules of TV’s “Lingo” game are virtually the same as the online game: six chances to try to guess a randomly selected five letter word. In Wordle, if you have the right letter in the right spot, it shows up green. A correct letter in the wrong spot shows up yellow. A letter that isn’t in the word in any spot shows up gray.

A similar color code indicates the correct and incorrect letter choices on the board in the TV show. However, in the TV version, the guesses are made by teams and who are racking up points to advance to higher stakes in the game. The TV teams also get a break because they receive the first letter of each word before they begin the guessing game.

Some on Twitter are fine with the similarity of the games as long as The New York Times purchase does not result in their having to pay to play Wordle online. But they are skeptical. Wrote “FilmmakerJulie”:

Watch Woolery and guests play the game from this 2006 installment of “Lingo”: