How to Play the Latest New York Times Game Connections

Updated: Mar. 20, 2024

Test your brain power with this addictive new game from the New York Times—and find out the best strategies for winning

Remember when you couldn’t start your day without doing the new Wordle challenge? Don’t deny it: Everyone was obsessed with the addictive word game when it hit the internet in late 2021. You may still be a fan, seeing just how many tries it will take you to guess the mystery word, getting ridiculously excited when the little green squares pop up to let you know you’re on the right path and bragging to your friends when you figure it out quickly. Well, you’re about to have a new obsession: Connections.

Released by New York Times Games in mid-June, though still in beta-testing, this new brain game is all about finding common threads between seemingly unrelated words. Here’s what you need to know—and how you can win it.

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What is Connections?

How To Play Connections Nyt New Word Game Darren Hartwell For Rd Darren Hartwell/

Connections is “a category matching game,” according to New York Times puzzle editor Wyna Liu, who helped create it. It features a four-by-four square made up of 16 word tiles that, at first glance, appear to have nothing in common. Upon closer inspection, you’ll discover some words fit together in a category. You won’t know any category names before matching words together, so your job is to find the connections and figure out the categories. After you group your first four words, you’ll repeat the process three more times, until you’ve neatly sorted 16 words into four categories.

Categories might be types of fish, pasta shapes, NFL teams, mild oaths, movies that end with “!” or anything else dreamt up by the New York Times Games editors. The key? Think like they do to guess what they have in mind.

Here are two examples they provide along with the official rules:

  • FISH: Bass, Flounder, Salmon, Trout
  • FIRE ___: Ant, Drill, Island, Opal

Some of these will definitely test your vocabulary skills and your logic.

How do you play Connections, and what are the rules?

@michael.dicostanzo NYT MADE A NEW GAME OMG 👀🔥 #connections #nytnconnections ♬ Modern Elevator Music/Cute Electronic Bossanova(960644) – Kenji Ueda

Upon launching Connections in your browser or on your phone, you’ll see a quick pop-up rule guide, which will get you playing quickly. As noted above, you’ll need to find groups of four words with something in common—and complete this task without making too many mistakes. The interface is simple: You tap or click the words you want to select, and then select “Submit.” But there’s a little more to it than that.

Know that the categories get progressively harder

To do well, you need to pay attention to the category possibilities. Each Connections game has four categories, differentiated by color. The four category colors are yellow (the easiest), green (the second easiest), blue (medium) and purple (hard). So, a yellow category will be something straightforward, such as “Winged Insects,” and it will just be comprised of four different winged bugs. A purple category, however, will have you searching for a less obvious match, like the fire example above. (Would you really think to connect fire drill and fire opal?) Because it gets challenging, Connections could be among the word puzzles that will leave you stumped … but you’ll keep going back for more!

Hit submit—but not too soon

To play, find your first four-word group and click the “Submit” button. Don’t worry: You can erase your picks and change your mind if you have an epiphany, but once you submit, that’s it.

When you correctly submit a group, it will appear above the game in its colored category, with its category name and corresponding words. Those words will also be removed from your list. You’ll guess and submit each category the same way, but when you guess incorrectly, you’ll see a gray circle in the “Mistakes Remaining” section (below the board) turn white or disappear. If your guess has one word wrong, a helpful message above the board will flash “One Word Off” to let you know you’re close. If you guess more than one word wrong, you won’t get a hint.

Don’t make too many mistakes

You win the game once you correctly guess the four groups of words. However, if you make four mistakes, you’ll lose the game, just as you will if you run out of guesses in Wordle.

Can you play Connections more than once in a day?

Level Complete Connections Nyt New Word Game Darren Hartwell For RdDarren Hartwell/

Nope. Like Wordle, which was acquired by the New York Times in 2022, you can play Connections only once per day. Once you win a game, you’ll see a familiar message with colored squares, with the ability to share your victory online and a countdown to the next Connections puzzle, which drops at midnight. If you’d like, click “Share Your Results” to show off (or commiserate) on Twitter, Threads, Facebook or your other favorite social media site.

Tips for winning Connections

To succeed at Connections, try these tips to increase your chances of success.

  • Find the more obvious matches first. This makes spotting other connections a lot easier.
  • Leave the words you’re stumped on for last.
  • Look up words you don’t know before you make guesses.
  • Take advantage of the “Shuffle” button. Rearranging the words on the board may make a match more evident to you. There doesn’t appear to be a limit on how many times you can shuffle.
  • Pay attention to the clues you get when you make a mistake. “One word off” should make it easier to spot which word is wrong.
  • Try to brainstorm the categories based on the word tiles before you start grouping words.
  • Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. It can actually help you narrow down which word tile is a fit and see if your hunch is right. If not, you’ll know to go in another direction.

Trust us—it’s addictive! But since you can play only once a day, you’ll need some other games to fill your time, like these printable crossword puzzles. Bonus: They’ll help you hone your word skills too!


  • New York Times: “How Our New Game, Connections, Is Put Together”