If you’re still unsure, the answer to today’s Wordle puzzle (#580 – January 20, 2023) is alter. The word is from Old French “alterer” and Medieval Latin “alterare,” meaning to change or to become otherwise (via Etymonline). You’d find the word as an accompaniment in the phrase “alter ego,” which refers to a person’s secondary or alternative personality (via OED). It’s frequently confused with “altar,” which is a different word that describes a platform used for religious rituals. North Americans and Australians use “alter” to refer to the act of castrating or spaying a domestic animal — there’s no clear origin for the context, but we suppose it is life-altering to be divested of reproductive organs.
We went with the expert-recommended Wordle starting word, slate, as our first guess today, and it was a very good day to play by the books. It had three of the five letters in the solution word, so it eliminated all but five possible answer words, which is huge considering there are 2,315 words in the Wordle answer pool. Getting the answer right on the second try was even luckier since there were four other words that could have been the answer: alert, pleat, bleat, and cleat.