# Last in the alphabet on average

Assign each letter in a word a score corresponding to its position in the alphabet, so a=1, b=2 and so on until z=26. The total score of a word is the average score of all its letters.

What is the highest scoring word?

Words need to have a minimum of four letters ('zz' is not word as it would make this puzzle boring) and appear in a standard dictionary (in case of dispute, I will use Merriam-Webster).

Example: the word 'ball' has a score of (2+1+12+12)/4=6.75

• Do you know the answer already? If not, and this is just a guessing game with potentially infinite answers, then it may be off-topic here. Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 11:16
• @F1Krazy There are no infinite answers, the theoretical maximum is 26, making words longer doesn't really help and there are only finitely many words in merrian-webster. Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 11:45
• Do hyphens count in the character count and is their score 0? Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 12:41
• @hexomino Ruling it that way would be safe and presumably guarantee that the highest scoring words are without hyphens. Ignoring them in the count altogether would be the other reasonable choice I could imagine but I don't know whether this would create new top scoring words. Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 13:59
• Near-duplicate of my question Find the word with the highest normalized product of letter-prime values where A=2, B=3, C=5, ..., Z=101
– smci
Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 23:43

Since there is no tag, I found these with my computer:

yuzu: 23.25 points
yuzus: 22.4 points
muzzy: 22.2 points
xyst: 22.0 points
typy: 21.5 points
muzz: 21.5 points
xysts: 21.4 points
wussy: 21.4 points

• Nice, I had not come across that first word. Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 12:38
• I mainly know the first word from the Great British Bake-Off, where it seems like there's at least one contestant each year that uses it at some point. Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 21:52

I don't know if this is the highest scoring but it would definitely be hard to beat

which has a score of

(13+21+26+26+25)/5 = 22.2

• Nice, it is already better than the 'syzygy' with 21.17 that I had in mind. Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 11:44
• @quarague That is what I thought of almost immediately as well - probably would've posted that as an answer if I'd gotten here earlier. Commented Feb 15, 2022 at 14:45

Python code:

from statistics import mean
mean(ord(c)-64 for c in 'ZYZZYZUS')
24.25

• Wikipedia shows that these are actual words but they are not in Merriam-Webster, so the accepted answer tick goes to Wallbreaker. I still upvoted. Commented Feb 15, 2022 at 12:47
• They're all valid words, I cited definitions, and I didn't notice the restriction to Merriam-Webster. In particular the 6-letter word is a genus of wasp, a place in California (since 1944), pop-culture, film and music. Sigh
– smci
Commented Feb 15, 2022 at 20:26

Since the question

does not require the words to be English (although mentions Merriam-Webster), here's a German word (although it's often pejorative, but nevertheless it's included in Duden, the official Geramn dictionary): Wutz (22.5 points)

Here are two more high-scoring words:

styx 22 points
wry 22 points

Using a Python script on /usr/share/dict/words, I found a few possible answers:

If we generalise to say that the score of any letter is its Unicode codepoint minus 96, you can have épée, which scores 73.75. épées, mêlée and olé also do well.

If this isn’t allowed, then the next best I could find is the ‘word’ xxxv (i.e. 35) which scores 23.5.

Disqualifying that, the next few are muzzy (22.2), wussy (21.4), and tizzy (21.2).