Wordle Bans 'Slave' As New York Times Stops Users Entering Offensive Words

Wordle, the online word game that has become an internet phenomenon, has banned a number of "insensitive or offensive words" from the game since being purchased by the New York Times in January 2022, including the word "slave."

Users this week began noticing that words such as "slave," "whore" and "bitch" are no longer able to be entered in the game, where players have up to six attempts to guess a new five-letter word each day.

When these words are entered as a guess, the message "Not in the word list" pops up.

A spokesperson for the New York Times, who purchased the game for an undisclosed seven-figure sum, said the word list had been updated to remove words that they had deemed "insensitive or offensive."

"We are updating the word list over time to remove obscure words to keep the puzzles accessible to more people, as well as insensitive or offensive words," New York Times Spokesman Jordan Cohen told Newsweek.

Wordle
Wordle has removed offensive words from its widely popular game. The game's popularity has skyrocketed in recent months. Newsweek

Players quickly took to social media as they questioned and criticized this decision.

"Baffling that the NY Times has banned people from guessing words like "slave" on Wordle in case it causes offence (to who?)," Times journalist Patrick Kidd wrote in a tweet.

"Fair enough not to have it as an answer, if they must, but to erase it as a valid word is a touch thought-crimey. I'll stick to the Ancient Greek Wordle."

French journalist for L'Opinion, Emmanuelle Ducros, also took issue with the New York Times removing words.

"What does the New York Times do when it buys a set of letters? What the New York Times can do," she wrote on Twitter, according to Google translate.

"Purging the vocabulary of words [they] deem inappropriate such as bitch or whore (insults) but also slave or wench (slave and servant). These words no longer exist in Wordle."

Editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Ryan Rusak, also complained about the change and questioned whether the New York Times would no longer use these banned words in its articles.

"Oh FFS, the words "slave" or "wench" can't be in a word game now?" he wrote in a tweet.

"Is the Times not going to use them in stories? So dumb."

Freelance Journalist Yiannis Baboulias echoed similar sentiments with his tweet on the word ban.

"Apparently people get different words now, and there are banned words to prevent offense (to whom?) or because they are too obscure. Thanks for ruining Wordle, NY Times."