NYT Connections hints and answers for Sunday, January 14, #217

NYT Connections
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Looking for today's Connections answers? The Connections answers on January 14 for puzzle #217 are roughly as difficult as yesterday's, with the Connections Companion rating this puzzle's difficulty at 3.6 out of 5.

Every day, we update this article with Connections hints and tips to help you find all 4 of today's answers. And if the hints aren't enough, you'll find all 4 answers below, with the category titles and the correlating words. Plus, we're including a reflection on yesterday's puzzle, #216, in case you're reading this in a different time zone.

Spoilers lie ahead for Connections #217. Only read on if you want to know today's Connections answers.

Today's Connections answer — hints to help you solve it

Unlike our guide to today's Wordle answer, where we recommend the best Wordle start words as your strategy, solving Connections relies on identifying connecting categories among 16 words. Each category's difficulty level is represented by a color; yellow is the easiest grouping, and purple is the most challenging. Once you've made 4 mistakes in your guesses, the answers will be revealed, so hints can be helpful.

If you need hints to solve the groupings, then here are the themes of each, based on the order of difficulty:

  • 🟨 Yellow: Settling the score
  • 🟩 Green: Five-finger discounts
  • 🟦 Blue: A stag party
  • 🟪 Purple: Singularly striding 

These hints should get you at least some of the way towards finding today's Connections answers. If not, then you can read on for bigger clues; or, if you just want to know the answer, then scroll down further.

Alright then, here's a larger hint: Today's puzzle may have you double-checking your choices, especially when you remember a swipe could go both ways. Keep a tight grip on your logic and remember that not every Tom, Dick, or Harry fits where you expect them to.

Today's Connections answers

So, what are today's Connections answers for game #217?

Drumroll, please...

  • 🟨 Things to pay: Bill, Check, Invoice, Tab
  • 🟩 Thieve: Pinch, Rob, Steal, Swipe
  • 🟦 Male animals: Buck, Bull, Jack, Tom
  • 🟪 Legwear, in the singular: Jean, Pant, Short, Tight

Amidst the puzzling potpourri of words, the tangled threads of today's puzzle seemed to weave a tapestry of ambiguity. Why were there so many men's names? There were enough to start a small fraternity. But as I struggled to decide who'd pass the initiation and make the cut, another word stood out like a wallflower at the dance: Pant. Singular in its meaning, it beckoned its legwear companions – Jean, Short, and Tight – to fashion the purple category with a snug fit.

With the legwear lads correctly partnered up, my eyes prowled the remaining words, locking onto Bull. The beast hadn't fit into any pasture I'd envisioned thus far. But then, like a jigsaw piece finding its rightful place, I saw it wasn't about men's names at all, but the masculine members of the animal kingdom. Bill, Buck, Jack, and Tom, not a gentlemen's club, but rather a menagerie that made up the blue (not-man) group.

The eight culprits I was left with seemed to be all about ways you could pay for things or cheeky ways you could avoid paying for the same. Swipe seemed like it could belong with both the green and yellow categories, but after I counted up the various options, it was the dastardly quartet of Pinch, Rob, Steal, and Swipe that aligned in a felonious fashion.

Finally, four words remained, a fiscal foursome demanding my attention. Bill, Check, Tab, and Invoice – the yellow category had me metaphorically reaching for my wallet. Puzzle solved, no names left unaccounted for, I closed this chapter, looking forward to the challenge of tomorrow.

Yesterday's Connections answers

Reading this in a later time zone? Here are the Connections answers for game #216, which had a difficulty rating of 3.7 out of 5, according to the Connections Companion.

Given that it's Wildcard weekend as the NFL begins its playoff frenzy towards the Super Bowl, it seems only apt that I spotted the American Football theme almost straight away. But, like a quarterback being sacked just as he's about to throw for a touchdown, I was stopped in my tracks when Tackle, Run, Pass, and Center didn't come close. 

Then I saw Safety and End, and figured this category can't simply be Gridiron terms, but must be specific positions. Out went Pass and Run to be replaced by my two new finds, and sure enough my arms were raised aloft as the blue category was complete.

Then I noticed Punt, and thought surely not another American Football category? I gave it a shot alongside Pass, Run, and Hold, but I was unconvinced. And I was right to be, another miss.

  • 🟨 Credentials for entry: Badge, Invite, Pass, Ticket
  • 🟩 Preside over: Chair, Direct, Lead, Run
  • 🟦 American football positions: Center, End, Safety, Tackle
  • 🟪 Postpone: Hold, Punt, Stall, Table

Table and Chair next caught my eye, and my eyes narrowed as I also spotted Stall. Is this some sort of furniture theme? That led to a dead end, but when I considered another definition for Chair, Direct and Lead soon joined up, which also gave me a home for Run: the category labelled Preside over was done.

Two to go with two lives remaining. Pass, Ticket and Badge seemed a neat match. It's items we need for entry, right? This ties in with Invite, even if using the verb (to invite) as a noun (invitation) is a petty bugbear of mine! Moving swiftly on...

Hold, Stall, Punt, and Table remained and the final purple category became all too clear, Postpone. Selected and submitted for a successful game with two lives remaining, and no need for a Hail Mary pass!

Connections tips — how to win Connections

Connections relies more on your deductive skills and general knowledge, and you also don't get to know which word (or words) don't belong in your guessed groupings. Only if you've included one incorrect word, will the game tell you so.

To win Connections, you'll want to take your time looking at all 16 words before making your first guess. Do any words have more than pronunciation? Do any of the words mean more than one thing? Are any of the words part of larger phrases?

Often times, the answer that jumps out at your first will intentionally mislead you. That's why identifying any possible 5-word categories is a good strategy to start. Bookmark them and come back to them after you've solved another category or two, and it should help you figure out which of the 5 words belongs in a different category. 

Most Connections categories aren't incredibly obvious. It's common for the editor to use phrases, puns and other tricky topics that will require you to think. If you're stuck on the categories, cycle through each word in the grid and brainstorm possible categories that word fits into, even if you don't see other related words in the puzzle.

What is NYT Connections?

Connections is a category matching game, launched as a beta experience on June 12, 2023. It then joined the NYT Games app (iOS, Android) officially on August 28, 2023. This app is how people can play the daily New York Times Crossword and ultra-viral game Wordle; however, you need a paid subscription for crossword access, while Wordle and Connections are free to play.

In Connections, you're presented with 16 words and need to group them into 4, 4-word categories. There are often words intended to mislead you, or seemingly 5-word categories. Your goal is to group the words properly without exceeding 4 guesses. If you can't solve it within 4 guesses, you've failed, and the answers will be revealed. 

What time does the Connections puzzle come out?

The NYT Connections puzzle comes out daily. The game is refreshed at your device's midnight local time.

Where to play Connections

You can play Connections on the New York Times Game App, available for iOS/iPadOS and Android. If you're on a computer or your device's browser, you can access NYT Connections online here.

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.