For this puzzle, I define the distance between two letters as the shortest way on a QWERTY keyboard to go from a letter to another with a path.


  • Q and W are seperated by a distance of 1.
  • 2 for E and T.
  • 2 for I and N going through J.
  • 9 for Z and P.

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The average number of letters in the English langage for a word is approximately 4.7.

Can you find:

  1. $S$: The shortest word in Merriam Webster such that its number of letters is greater than 4.7
  2. $L$: The longest word in Merriam Webster such that its number of letters is lesser than 4.7

Score is $L$ minus $S$. Your aim is to get the highest score.


  • Love, $L=9$
  • Puzzle, $S=23$

Score is $9-23 = -14$


Here's a score of 24

L = 27 = PAPA

I'm pretty sure this is optimal, because

You can't get better than PAPA. 9 is the maximum shortest distance between 2 keys, and PAPA has a 9-letter distance between every letter pair. It's theoretically possible to get lower than ASSES(S) or WEEDS, but in the word list I just checked it with, nothing comes up that would match. The word would have to be an obscure format like awwaa, both letters being neighbors on the keyboard.

  • $\begingroup$ @JKHA So two consecutive same letters like "SS" are counted as 1, not 0? $\endgroup$ – Lukas Rotter Oct 24 '20 at 20:31
  • $\begingroup$ Why would it be 4? A -> S is 1, S -> S is 0, S -> E is 1, E -> S is 1, 3 total $\endgroup$ – Anthony Ingram-Westover Oct 24 '20 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ Oops, sorry, I was looking at my AZERTY keyboard, I'm French, forget about my comment, you have my +1 Lukas :) $\endgroup$ – JKHA Oct 24 '20 at 20:33

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