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The Connections Craze: Why the NYT’s 1 Newest Game is Taking Over the Internet


Connections is an addictive new word game from The New York Times. The objective is to find connections between 16 seemingly random words or phrases. These 16 items must then be grouped into 4 sets of 4 related things.

For example, a Connections puzzle may contain the words:

  • Apple
  • Banana
  • Strawberry
  • Blueberry
  • France
  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • China
  • Red
  • Green
  • Yellow
  • Blue
  • Pizza
  • Pasta
  • Tacos
  • Sushi

The goal is to determine what connects each group of 4 words. In this case:

  • Apple, Banana, Strawberry, Blueberry (Fruits)
  • France, Italy, Mexico, China (Countries)
  • Red, Green, Yellow, Blue (Colors)
  • Pizza, Pasta, Tacos, Sushi (Foods)

Connections requires lateral thinking to identify the sometimes obscure relationships between words. This makes it an addictive daily brain teaser for word puzzle lovers. The game quickly went viral after launching in the NYT’s crossword app.

How to Play Connections

The New York Times releases a new Connections puzzle every day. To play, start by carefully reading through the list of 16 words or phrases that are provided as clues. Your goal is to identify the connections between these words and group them into 4 sets of 4 related items.

Some key tips for solving Connections puzzles:

  • Read through all the clues first before trying to make connections. Seeing the full list can spark ideas.

  • Look for obvious connections like categories, colors, numbers, sequences, etc. This can give you a starting point.

  • Consider multiple meanings or interpretations of the words. A clue might relate based on a less common definition.

  • Break down longer phrases into individual words and parts. This can reveal hidden connections.

  • Think flexibly and try to identify metaphorical or indirect relationships between clues. The connections can be broad.

  • Once you group 4 related clues, it often gets easier to place the remaining words. The sets build on each other.

  • If stuck on a clue, move on and come back to it later. Making other connections can provide context.

With practice, identifying the relationships between the 16 words in order to group them into 4 sets of 4 related items will start to feel natural. Careful reading and flexible thinking are key to solving Connections puzzles.

Today’s Connections Answers

The latest Connections puzzle was released on February 27, 2023. Here are the groups and explanations for today’s puzzle:

Group 1

  • Oahu
  • Maui
  • Kauai
  • Lanai

Explanation: These are all major Hawaiian islands. Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Lanai make up 4 of the 8 main islands of Hawaii.

Group 2

  • Pasteurize
  • Homogenize
  • Fortify
  • Enrich

Explanation: These words all describe processes of changing or enhancing food. Pasteurization, homogenization, fortification, and enrichment are techniques used to improve the quality and nutritional value of various foods and beverages.

Group 3

  • Leopard
  • Jaguar
  • Panther
  • Cougar

Explanation: These are all names of wild cats. Leopard, jaguar, panther, and cougar refer to large feline species found around the world.

Group 4

  • Oboe
  • Clarinet
  • Flute
  • Bassoon

Explanation: These are all woodwind instruments commonly used in orchestras. The oboe, clarinet, flute, and bassoon make up the woodwind family of instruments.

Check back daily as we update this section with hints and solutions for each new Connections puzzle from the New York Times. You can also browse our archive of previous puzzles and explanations.

Connections Strategies and Tips

When tackling a Connections puzzle, start by looking for the most obvious connections between words and phrases. Look for groups that share a common category like colors, countries, foods, etc. This will give you a base to build off.

Next, consider any alternate meanings or interpretations of the words and phrases. A word can connect in multiple ways depending on how it’s defined. Break down longer phrases into individual words and parts – these can reveal hidden relationships.

You’ll also need to think laterally and make metaphorical connections between words that may not seem related on the surface. For example, “blanket” and “smother” could connect as things that cover or conceal something.

Some other helpful tips:

  • Don’t overthink – sometimes the simplest connection is the right one
  • If you’re stuck, take a break and come back with fresh eyes
  • Read the words aloud to spark new ideas
  • Draw a web or diagram to visualize potential connections

With practice and an open mind, you’ll start seeing connections everywhere!

Connections Companion and Solver Tools

The official New York Times website has a comments section below each daily Connections puzzle where users can discuss that day’s answers and help each other out. This is a great place to get hints or explanations if you’re stuck on a particular puzzle.

In addition to the NYT site, there are many fan-created forums and communities focused on Connections. On Reddit, the r/Connections sub is active with thousands of members who post spoilers, hints, and detailed analyses of each puzzle. Popular Discord servers like “Connections Crew” have channels for finding partners, getting hints, and more.

For those who want more automated help, browser extensions like Connections Solver provide a seamless experience where you can click for hints and reveals as needed. The Chrome extension Puzzlr offers similar instant insights for tricky connections.

Some third-party Connections apps take things a step further by offering AI-powered hints and explanations. For example, Connect Master can automatically detect your puzzle progress and provide personalized guidance to unblock you. Other apps like Connections Genius leverage large databases of past solutions to serve up tailored clues.

So whether you prefer connecting with fellow solvers, crowdsourcing hints on forums, or utilizing high-tech aids, there are plenty of companion tools available to help master even the toughest Connections puzzles. The vibrant community around this addictive game means you never have to be totally stuck.

Connections Game History

The Connections puzzle game was launched by The New York Times in April 2022. It was created by the same team behind the wildly popular Wordle game, led by software engineer Josh Wardle.

Connections builds upon the connect-the-dots premise of earlier games like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, with the objective of finding connections between 16 seemingly unrelated words or phrases.

The game quickly became a viral hit, gaining millions of daily players within weeks of its release. Fans praised the puzzles for being challenging yet intuitive.

Some of the most famous early Connections puzzles involved finding connections between musical genres, ice cream flavors, bird species, and Olympic sports. These puzzles showed the potential for Connections to teach as well as entertain.

Among the most difficult Connections have been ones involving obscure history, literature or pop culture. For example, a puzzle connecting Aztec gods, Russian composers, ballet moves and novels by 19th century British authors left many scratching their heads.

The New York Times plans to expand Connections into other languages soon. Versions in Spanish and French are likely to appear first. This will allow non-English speakers to enjoy the addictive fun of finding connections across cultures and languages.

For Beginners

The New York Times’ Connections puzzle can seem daunting at first, but it’s easy to pick up the basics. Here are some simple examples and tips to help beginners get started:

Learn with Mini Puzzles

Try solving these warm-up puzzles with just 4 words to find the connection:

  • Apple, Banana, Orange, Kiwi
  • Plane, Car, Boat, Train
  • Soccer, Basketball, Baseball, Football

Once you can find the links between 4 words, move up to 6 or 8 words. Look for common categories like fruits, vehicles, or sports to identify the connections.

Spot Common Connection Types

Some connections appear often in Connections puzzles. Keep these in mind when solving:

  • Categories: Words belong to the same overall group like animals, countries, or occupations.
  • Locations: Words are places like cities, states, or landmarks.
  • Word types: Words share a type like verbs, adjectives, or brand names.
  • Rhymes: Words have similar sounds or rhyme schemes.
  • Word parts: Words contain the same prefix, suffix, or word root.
  • Multiple meanings: Words have double meanings when interpreted a certain way.

Break Down the Words

If you’re stuck on a word, try breaking it into smaller parts and analyzing each piece. Look at:

  • Prefixes and suffixes
  • Syllables
  • Alternate definitions
  • Homonyms or homophones
  • Creative interpretations

Deconstructing words often reveals hidden connections. Don’t overthink – go with your first instinct if you spot a promising link.

With practice, you’ll be able to flex your mental muscles on even the toughest Connections puzzles! Start simple and build up to more complex word associations and lateral thinking.

Advanced Connections Techniques

Connections puzzles can incorporate some rare and tricky types of connections that may not be obvious at first. Here are some advanced strategies used by expert solvers:

Rare Connection Types

  • Homophones – Words that sound the same but have different meanings and spellings (e.g. to/two/too)
  • Antonyms – Words with opposite meanings (e.g. hot/cold)
  • Synecdoche – When a part represents the whole (e.g. wheels = cars)

Keep an open mind for unusual connections like these. Don’t limit yourself to only thinking of common links.

Expert Solver Strategies

  • Write down your first impression of what the connection might be
  • Note any double meanings or alternate interpretations of words
  • Try grouping words spatially to visualize connections
  • Take periodic breaks if stuck to gain a fresh perspective

Experts recommend having patience, not overthinking initial ideas, and being flexible.

Timed Competitions

  • Daily and weekly leaderboards for fastest solvers
  • Limited hints provided on a timer
  • Points system rewards both speed and accuracy

Trying to solve Connections under a time limit engages a different part of your brain. Competing against others can help improve solving speed.

Connections for Language Learning

The New York Times’ popular word game Connections can be a useful tool for building vocabulary and improving language skills. Here are some tips on using Connections for language learning:

Build Vocabulary

  • The varied vocabulary used in Connections puzzles provides exposure to many new words across different topics and fields. Looking up unfamiliar words and researching their meanings is a great way to actively build your vocabulary.

  • Connecting words together based on their meanings also reinforces those definitions and connections in your mind. The more times you see a new word in different contexts, the better you will retain it.

  • Noticing patterns in word origins and roots that appear across Connections puzzles can help you decode and remember new vocabulary. For example, seeing multiple words with the Greek root “geo” meaning “earth” will help cement that prefix.

Tool for ESL Students

  • As an English language learner, attempting Connections puzzles helps practice reading comprehension, critical thinking, and logical reasoning in English.

  • The game format creates a fun and low-pressure environment to engage with the English language, without the stresses of conversing or writing.

  • Thinking through the word connections exercises your ability to understand nuanced meanings and relationships between English words.

Cultural/Linguistic Connections

  • The cultural references and wordplay in Connections can provide insight into American culture, history, and language that ESL students may not be familiar with.

  • Recognizing these cultural connections and double meanings in the puzzles gives useful context for English learners.

  • Noticing which lexical connections are more obvious or obscure to native speakers vs. language learners also illustrates the complexity of English.

Mobile Apps and Extensions

The New York Times offers an official app for playing Connections on iOS and Android devices. The app provides access to the daily puzzle as well as an archive of previous puzzles. It has helpful features like a zoomable grid, automatic check for correct answers, and easy sharing options.

For those who prefer to play Connections in their desktop browser, there are some useful extensions that can enhance the experience. The NYTC Games Reminder extension available for Chrome and Firefox will send you a daily notification when the new Connections puzzle is released. Other extensions like Page Monitor can auto-refresh the NYT Games page until the next puzzle appears.

While the official NYT app offers the most authentic experience, some third-party apps provide alternative ways to play. For example, the app Word Connections timed mode and leaderboards to add a competitive element. Other apps may crowdsource hint databases or provide access to user-generated puzzle packs for extra practice. Some apps even allow you to create your own custom Connections grids to share with friends.

So whether you prefer the official NYT experience or something with extra features, there are plenty of mobile apps and browser extensions to make playing Connections even more convenient and engaging.


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