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If you’re looking for the Connections answer for Monday, January 15, 2024, read on—I’ll share some clues, tips, and strategies, and finally the solutions to all four categories. Along the way, I’ll explain the meanings of the trickier words and we’ll learn how everything fits together. Beware, there are spoilers below for January 15, NYT Connections #218! Read on if you want some hints (and then the answer) to today’s Connections game. 

If you want an easy way to come back to our Connections hints every day, bookmark this page. You can also find our past hints there as well, in case you want to know what you missed in a previous puzzle.

Below, I’ll give you some oblique hints at today’s Connections answers. And farther down the page, I’ll reveal the themes and the answers. Scroll slowly and take just the hints you need!


Credit: Connections/NYT

Does today’s Connections game require any special knowledge?

Nothing too unusual, but if you keep up on election news, you may recognize some terms more readily.

Hints for the themes in today’s Connections puzzle

Here are some spoiler-free hints for the groupings in today’s Connections:

  • Yellow category – Everyone who’s running.

  • Green category – Like a moat around a castle, sort of.

  • Blue category – Ways to get your medicine.

  • Purple category – A vegetable-inspired group.

Does today’s Connections game involve any wordplay?

There’s a fill-in-the-blank.

Ready to hear the answers? Keep scrolling if you want a little more help.

BEWARE: Spoilers follow for today’s Connections puzzle!

We’re about to give away some of the answers. Scroll slowly if you don’t want the whole thing spoiled. (The full solution is a bit further down.)

What are the ambiguous words in today’s Connections?

  • CREAM and SYRUP may sound like they belong in a soda shop, but they could also come from a pharmacy.

  • A BUFFER isn’t just a device that buffs shoes; it can also refer to a metaphorical CUSHION that protects against something. For example, when you play a video online, the player will load a little bit more data than you’re currently using—the extra is the BUFFER—so that if you lose your connection for a moment, the video can still keep playing.

  • Whales can come in a POD, but so, famously, do peas.

What are the categories in today’s Connections?


Ready to learn the answers to today’s Connections puzzle? I give them all away below.

What are the yellow words in today’s Connections?

The yellow grouping is considered to be the most straightforward. The theme for today’s yellow group is LIST OF CANDIDATES and the words are: BALLOT, ROSTER, SLATE, TICKET.

What are the green words in today’s Connections?

The green grouping is supposed to be the second-easiest. The theme for today’s green category is PROTECTIVE BARRIER and the words are: BUFFER, CUSHION, PAD, SHIELD.

What are the blue words in today’s Connections?

The blue grouping is the second-hardest. The theme for today’s blue category is MEDICATION FORMATS and the words are: CAPSULE, CREAM, SYRUP, TABLET.

What are the purple words in today’s Connections?

The purple grouping is considered to be the hardest. The theme for today’s purple category is PEA ____ and the words are: COAT, GREEN, POD, SOUP.

How I solved today’s Connections

A BUFFER is either a shoe polishing machine, or a CUSHION, so that was my first group. 🟩 Next I saw CAPSULE and TABLET and realized they are both types of pills. 🟦 A BALLOT can have a SLATE of candidates. I think of a ROSTER as referring more to a team, but it works here too. 🟨 At that point, the PEA words were pretty obvious. 🟪

Puzzle #218

How to play Connections

I have a full guide to playing Connections, but here’s a refresher on the rules:

First, find the Connections game either on the New York Times website or in their Crossword app. You’ll see a game board with 16 tiles, each with one word or phrase. Your job is to select a group of four tiles that have something in common. Often they are all the same type of thing (for example: RAIN, SLEET, HAIL, and SNOW are all types of wet weather) but sometimes there is wordplay involved (for example, BUCKET, GUEST, TOP TEN, and WISH are all types of lists: bucket list, guest list, and so on).

Select four items and hit the Submit button. If you guessed correctly, the category and color will be revealed. (Yellow is easiest, followed by green, then blue, then purple.) If your guess was incorrect, you’ll get a chance to try again.

You win when you’ve correctly identified all four groups. But if you make four mistakes before you finish, the game ends and the answers are revealed.

How to win Connections

The most important thing to know to win Connections is that the groupings are designed to be tricky. Expect to see overlapping groups. For example, one puzzle seemed to include six breakfast foods: BACON, EGG, PANCAKE, OMELET, WAFFLE, and CEREAL. But BACON turned out to be part of a group of painters along with CLOSE, MUNCH, and WHISTLER, and EGG was in a group of things that come by the dozen (along with JUROR, ROSE, and MONTH). So don’t hit “submit” until you’ve confirmed that your group of four contains only those four things.

If you’re stuck, another strategy is to look at the words that seem to have no connection to the others. If all that comes to mind when you see WHISTLER is the painting nicknamed “Whistler’s Mother,” you might be on to something. When I solved that one, I ended up googling whether there was a painter named Close, because Close didn’t fit any of the obvious themes, either.

Another way to win when you’re stuck is, obviously, to read a few helpful hints–which is why we share these pointers every day. Check back tomorrow for the next puzzle!

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