If you’re looking for the Connections answer for Monday, September 18, 2023, read on—I’ll share some clues, tips, and strategies, and finally the solutions to all four categories. Beware, there are spoilers below for September 18, NYT Connections #99! Scroll to the end if you want some hints (and then the answer) to today’s Connections game.
By the way, 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.
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. Below, I’ll give you some oblique hints at today’s Connections answers. And further down the page, I’ll reveal the themes and the answers. Scroll slowly and take just the hints you need!
Does today’s Connections game require any special knowledge?
If you watch TV and if you travel by air, you’ll recognize some of these groupings more readily than people who don’t.
Hints for the themes in today’s Connections puzzle
Here are some spoiler-free hints for the groupings in today’s Connections:
- Yellow category – Smart as a whip.
- Green category – Going somewhere?
- Blue category – This town isn’t big enough for the both of us.
- Purple category – These take the lead.
Does today’s Connections game involve any wordplay?
Not exactly, but there are a bunch of proper names here (not necessarily people’s names, or at least not all of them.)
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?
- SOUTHWEST can refer to a direction on a compass, the region of the United States, or the airline.
- SMART is a synonym for CLEVER, but those two are in different categories today.
- MARS is not a planet here, and LASSO is not a cowboy accessory.
What are the categories in today’s Connections?
- Yellow: INTELLIGENT
- Green: AIRLINES
- Blue: WESTERN TROPES
- Purple: TV SHOW TITLE SURNAMES
DOUBLE BEWARE: THE SOLUTION IS BELOW
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 INTELLIGENT and the words are: BRIGHT, CLEVER, QUICK, SHARP.
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 AIRLINES and the words are: ALASKA, FRONTIER, SOUTHWEST, SPIRIT.
What are the blue words in today’s Connections?
The blue grouping is the second-hardest. The theme for today’s blue category is WESTERN TROPES and the words are: COWBOY, DRIFTER, OUTLAW, SHERIFF.
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 TV SHOW TITLE SURNAMES and the words are: LASSO, MARS, ROGERS, SMART. (I’m thinking those must be Ted Lasso, Veronica Mars, Mister Rogers—or possibly Roy Rogers—and Maxwell Smart from Get Smart. )
How I solved today’s Connections
I saw the cowboy words first, but there were just too many of them. As I jotted down FRONTIER, I thought of the airline—and right there on the board were ALASKA, SOUTHWEST, and SPIRIT. So that was my first hit.
I also saw CLEVER, QUICK, BRIGHT, and SHARP as synonyms for somebody smart—but I left SMART off, because that seemed redundant with the name of the category. (I also wondered if SMART might be a last name here.) That was a hit, too.
My next guess was also a guess, but since I didn’t see any planets or gods to go with MARS I thought about Bruno Mars. Other names might include Ted LASSO, Roy ROGERS, Maxwell SMART. I should have thought of Veronica Mars, but close enough. Finally I had four characters from Western movies: the DRIFTER, the OUTLAW, the SHERIFF, the COWBOY. Solved in four.