NYT Connections hints and answers for Tuesday, January 9, #212

NYT Connections
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Looking for today's Connections answers? The Connections answers on January 9 for puzzle #212 are much easier than yesterday's, with the Connections Companion rating this puzzle's difficulty at 2.1 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, #211, in case you're reading this in a different time zone.

Spoilers lie ahead for Connections #212. 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: So neat and tidy
  • 🟩 Green: Fundamental flavors
  • 🟦 Blue: Ready those tissues
  • 🟪 Purple: On the case

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: When today's grid is revealed like a detective story, keep the sneeze-guard up and your pantry stocked. With a broom in hand and a tale of intrigue, each category will come clean, like ingredients in a perfect recipe. Connect the clues, and you'll be the master chef of today's game!

Today's Connections answers

So, what are today's Connections answers for game #212?

Drumroll, please...

  • 🟨 Cleaning supplies: Broom, Mop, Rag, Sponge
  • 🟩 Elements of cooking, per Samin Nosrat: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
  • 🟦 Things that make you sneeze: Dust, Pepper, Pollen, Smoke
  • 🟪 Titular fictional detectives: Magnum, Monk, Shaft, Tracy

Today's Connections grid was a smorgasbord of sensory triggers, with words that popped with vivid intensity—Smoke and Heat and Salt and Acid!

As an occasional hay fever sufferer, I teary-eyed Pollen, Smoke, Dust, and Pepper—each a nemesis of the nostril for allergic rhinitis sufferers. But hold on, I told myself, don't sneeze at the opportunity to scout the grid first for another set.

There, lurking mysteriously in the shadows, was Tracy, a clue leading me down a dark alley of names. Could it be? Dick Tracy, Magnum P.I., Monk, and Shaft? These are all TV detectives! I'd cracked the case wide open and the purple category was my first correct find today.

My confidence bloomed like springtime flora, and I circled back to my sniffly suspects. Sure enough, my hay fever hunch has been spot on—the blue category was a wrap.

That left Broom, Sponge, Mop, Rag, gleaming in their simplicity, the unsung champions of cleanliness. Yellow category, consider yourself swept up.

And for the final act, I saw the final words were the elemental forces of culinary alchemy, the four words that made up the title of Samin Nosrat's best-selling 2017 cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. With that, the green category was served up on a silver platter and the game was won.

Yesterday's Connections answers

Reading this in a later time zone? Here are the Connections answers for game #211, which had a difficulty rating of 3.9 out of 5, according to the Connections Companion.

I dove into today's Connections game with zeal. Hmm,  Carrots and Sticks, Carts and Horseshoes—it was like a country fair in there. But this wasn't my first hayride; I needed some more solid combinations.

Eyes on the prize, I saw Tee and thought it must be a golf reference. Yes, it was! Club, Hole, and Cart joined the group, and just like that, the blue category was in the bag—all things you'd catch on the links.

Goldfish threw me for a loop for a while, flapping around without a clear pond to call home. Meanwhile, Pole, Rod, Staff, and Stick lined up together like a tall, slender family portrait. I locked in green and was on a roll.

  • 🟨 Things that are orange: Basketball, Carrot, Goldfish, Pumpkin
  • 🟩 Long, skinny objects: Pole, Rod, Staff, Stick
  • 🟦 Seen on a golf course: Cart, Club, Hole, Tee
  • 🟪 Shapes of capital Greek letters: Circle, Horseshoe, Pitchfork, Triangle

Pitchfork and Carrot remaining. Back to the farm, then? Then it hit me: the vibrant splash of orange that unites a Basketball with a Pumpkin. Is a Goldfish orange, too, I wondered. I rolled the dice—and yes, the Connection gods agreed. Orange it was!

That left me with Circle, Horseshoe, Pitchfork, and Triangle. Interesting shapes, sure, but what kind? I'll admit, the Greek alphabet wasn't my first guess, but sometimes you just have to close up the game with what's left. And there it was—shapes of capital Greek letters, the last piece of the puzzle completed.

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.