Sat. May 18th, 2024

Connections is a game from the New York Times that challenges you to find the association between words. It sounds easy, but it isn’t—Connections categories can be almost anything, and they’re usually quite specific. If you need a hand getting the answers, we’ve got you covered.

What Is Connections?

Connections is a game from the New York Times. The objective is simple: sort 16 words into groups of 4. Each group of words will be connected by some common idea or theme. That common element could be anything. We have seen everything from games that rely on the number of letters in the words to categories that require you to spot an extra letter at the end of the word. Sometimes they’re references to economics, other times they reference fairy tales. There is no telling what sort of association there will be between words.

Once you’re confident you understand the connection, select 4 words, then hit “Submit.” You have only four attempts in total, so don’t be too guess-happy.

Hints for Today’s Connections Categories

Here are a few small hints for the 315th Connections game to get you started:

  • Yellow: A typical example.
  • Green: Choo-choo?
  • Blue: How do the words sound to you?
  • Purple: Not your eyes, but your ____.

What Are Today’s Connections Categories?

An empty Connections game board.

If you still need help, the actual categories are:

  • Yellow: Embodiment
  • Green: Related to Trains
  • Blue: Starting with the Same Sound
  • Purple: Ear ____

Today’s NYT Connections Answers

April 21th Connections board with all the words sorted into categories.

Embodiment (Yellow):

Example, Ideal, Model, Symbol

Related to Trains (Green):

Car, Conductor, Station, Track

Starting with the Same Sound (Blue):

Cymbal, Scimitar, Simmer, Symphony

Ear ____ (Purple):

Drum, Mark, Wax, Wig

How Did We Solve This Connections Game?

April 21st wasn’t too bad, and felt comparable to April 20th. That is to say: a little easier than most games.

Conductor and track seemed likely to be related to trains, so we threw in car and station for good measure to finish up the Green category. The group was officially called “Related to Trains.”

We shuffled the board a bit here, and noticed something peculiar: cymbal, scimitar, and symphony all have the same sound at the beginning. That seemed like a rather unlikely coincidence, so we just threw them together to see if it stuck, and our instinct paid off. Blue was “Starting with the Same Sound.”

We shuffled the board again. Ideal and model landed together, which made us think about idealized examples of things. Of course, the word example obviously fits with that idea, and symbol isn’t too much of a stretch either. Together, those words were “Embodiment,” which was Yellow.

That just leaves Purple again. Drum and wax immediately made us think of ears, and testing out ear on the other words quickly revealed that it worked for them too. An earwig, if you don’t know, is an intimidating looking (but harmless) insect. Earmark can be a verb or a noun. As a verb, it usually means to “designate (something, typically funds or resources) for a particular purpose.” It can also mean to physically mark the ear of an animal.

How Do You Guess Connections Categories?

There is no quick, reliable way to approach Connections like there is with Wordle, since Connections isn’t algorithmic. However, there are a few things to keep in mind that can help.

  1. Look for similar parts of speech. Are some words verbs and others nouns? Are some adjectives? Try mentally grouping them based on those categories and see if any other patterns jump out at you.
  2. Are the words synonyms? Sometimes categories will just be synonyms for a phrase, or very close to synonyms. Don’t rely too closely on this, though. Occasionally, Connections will deliberately throw in words that are sometimes synonyms to mislead you.
  3. Try saying the words. Sometimes, saying the words helps. One puzzle we saw included the words go, rate, faster, clip, pace, speed, move, commute, and hurry—all of which are obviously related to the idea of motion. However, when you say them, it becomes a little more obvious that only four (go, move, hurry, faster) are things you’d actually say to prompt someone to get moving.
  4. Expect the red herring. Connections usually has words that could be plausibly, yet incorrectly, grouped together. Take the words Bud, Corona, and Light, as an example. You might instinctively see those three words together and assume they’re lumped together in a category related to beer—but they weren’t.
  5. Look for distinct words. If a word on your board doesn’t have multiple meanings or can really only be used in one context, try using that word as the basis for a category.
  6. Shuffle the board. Sometimes, moving words around will help you look at them in new ways.

If you didn’t solve this one, don’t feel too bad—there’s always tomorrow! And those words may align with a topic you’re interested in, giving you a leg up on the competition.

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By John P.

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