Jotto is a word game where two people try to guess each other's secret five-letter word.

Copyright Information

I am not sure about the copyright status of this game. There is a version that was put out by Selchow & Righter (the Scrabble people) a while ago, and a company named Endless Games put out a version more recently. This leads me to believe that, while the actual score sheets that come with the games are copyrighted, the name Jotto and the game mechanics themselves are not. If anyone has more information on this, please let me know.


Central Connector has rules for many games, including Jotto. These are the rules for the 1973 version of the Selchow & Righter game. I learned the game from friends in high school. When we played, we didn't keep score; we just raced to see who could get the other person's word first.

Jotto Puzzle of the Day

Find a new Jotto puzzle each day with an annotated solution at the Jotto Puzzle of the Day page.

Rules Variants

If I play a game enough, I invariably try to come up with variants. Here are some Jotto variants that I have played.


I have an SSH-telnetable version of Jotto that I programmed in Perl. SSH over to with the username jotto and the password playjotto.

I now also have an email version of Jotto that I programmed in Perl. Just send an email to to get a game started.

Let me know if you have any comments or suggestions for improvements on either game.


When I played this in high school, I started making a list in my notebook of as many five-letter words I could think of. I'm pretty sure I had delusions of making a computer program to play Jotto. I would just sit down and write five-letter words in my list. Then I would go around and ask people to give me a five-letter word. I was pretty good about remembering which ones I already had. I went through the list after I had collected a bunch, and I only found a few duplicate words. My list was somewhere around 1300 words.

For the computer game, I started with a list from a friend that was a pared-down version of /usr/dict/words, gone through manually with words taken out that he thought were too uncommon or jargony. This list is 3252 words. It is currently what I use for the easy dictionary in my Perl Jotto game. I then added in more words from various sources, and I've got a dictionary that is 5886 words, which I use for my hard dictionary in my Perl Jotto game. I found a comprehensive Scrabble word list, and I'm going to start using that at some point. I want to hand-check to make sure the words I have that it doesn't are actually words, though, since I know that some of the words I have aren't good (like ascii). The Scrabble word list is 12024 words.

Sometime later, I have integrated the Scrabble word list. words.5 is 12386 words. words.5.easy is 4014 words. words.5.easy represents some of my own work, but it's also based on the work of others, so I'm not claiming any special ownership of it. Feel free to use these for playing Jotto or anything else.

I made a stupid little script to get random words from my dictionary.

Spreading the Meme

Sometime in late 2001, I started playing Jotto with people over email. I've played regular and semi-regular email games with at least eight different people, and I know those people have played email games with other people. I introduced some people to the game for the first time, and others were reintroduced to it. It feels good to be the cause of a meme spreading. I felt the same way with Boggle, getting it to be a popular game in my various social circles.

Return to Kevin's page.
Last modified: 16 December 2002