The New York Times Removed ‘Fetus’ as a Wordle Answer

The Times said it wanted Wordle to be “distinct from the news.”
wordle fetus new york times
PHOTO: Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images

The New York Times removed the word “fetus” from Wordle, the extremely popular game it acquired this year, citing the debate over women’s reproductive rights after it emerged that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to allow states to ban abortion entirely.  

People who regularly play the game but didn’t refresh their browsers will have found that the word of the day on Monday was the word for a gestating baby. 

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The newspaper changed the word a few days ago, to keep the game “distinct from the news.”

The discovery would have been made shortly after Politico published a leaked draft from the Supreme Court showing that the justices were set to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that legalised abortion across the country. 

Abortion rights campaigners are now fighting to somehow reverse the draft opinion before it is settled and published. Some users thought it was an active decision on the New York Times’ part to include fetus as a word.

Others didn’t seem to care as much about the word choice as the fact it left users with two different versions of the game.

“We want to emphasize that this is a very unusual circumstance,” the media group said in a statement. “When we acquired Wordle in January, it had been built for a relatively small group of users. We’re now busy revamping Wordle’s technology so that everyone always receives the same word. 

“We are committed to ensuring that tens of millions of people have a gratifying and consistent experience, every day.”

At any other time, fetus likely wouldn’t have been that controversial. But it’s not the first time the New York Times has reckoned over its word picks. 

When it bought Wordle from software developer Josh Wardle for a figure in “the low seven figures” in January, it removed several words, including ‘slave’, ‘lynch’ and ‘wench’.