# Highest scoring words based on distance travelled along the alphabet

For any word we define it's alphabetic distance to be the total amount of places in the alphabet you need to traverse between each letter.

Example: WORD has a score of 25

• 8 character distance between W and O
• 3 character distance between O and R
• 14 character distance between R and D

which totals to 25.

This puzzle is to find the highest scoring English words (at least according to https://www.merriam-webster.com/) for a word of length N where N = 3, 4, 5, 6 (or more if you're brave enough)

For the N = 2 case its easy to see that ZA is the optimal solution. My best quick attempt for N = 3 is AYE:

• 2: ZA 25 points
• 3: AYE 44 points
• 4: ?
• 5: ?
• 6: ?

Good luck!

• Are you sure you have the optimal solutions in your mind? If not, this will be flagged as too broad.
– Duck
Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 15:03
• I do not but wasn't aware you needed to. Was inspired by a similar open ended question puzzling.stackexchange.com/questions/91026/…
– Plog
Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 15:07
• What counts as a word, exactly? Without specifying this, this question is opinion-based.
– Deusovi
Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 16:29
• Yeah that's a good point. I've added the accepted source as merriam webster for this challenge since it has been used as reference in the current answers.
– Plog
Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 17:46
• Can they be trademarked? What if the words have capital letters in them. Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 1:46

Slightly higher score for

N=5

ZAYAT, 92 points

N=6

SAWBWA, 104 points

• Amazing finds! I've tightened up what defines a word in the question which disqualifies the N=5 but that N=6 will take some beating. Nice find!
– Plog
Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 17:48

I used the dictionary found at this github link: https://github.com/dwyl/english-words. I took a text file form the github link that had 370099 words in it and wrote an R script that calculates the score for every word in the list, and the rest was just a matter of filtering the results. At time of posting there was not a "no-computers" tag, though I imagine it would have been appropriate.

R function for calculating score:

require(stringr) #Required for strsplit function

score<-function(word){
#Splits word into a vector of its indiidual characters and matches them
# with the index of each letter from the built in letters vector.
numbers<-match(strsplit(word,split="")[[1]],letters)

sum<-0

# for loop runs through numbers to calculate score
for(i in 1:(length(numbers)-1)){
if(length(numbers)==1){sum<-0}else{
sum<-sum+abs(numbers[i]-numbers[i+1])
}
}
return(sum)
}


Alternative N=3

N=5

ZAYAT 92 points (not Merriam Webster approved)

N=6

YAZATA 112 points (not Merriam Webster approved)

N=7

LAYAWAY 127 points

N=8

LAYAWAYS 133 points

N=9

GRAVEYARD 141 points

N=10

GRAVEYARDS 156 points

N=11

TARATANTARA 163 points

N=12

SCRAPERBOARD 161 points

N=13

OVERDRAMATIZE 174 points

N=14

BUREAUCRATIZES 191 points

N=15

VASCULARIZATION 198 points

N=16

PARAMETERIZATION 200 POINTS

N=17

BUREAUCRATIZATION 218 points

Edit: More words.

N=18

HYPERBRACHYCRANIAL 214 points

N=19

OVERARGUMENTATIVELY 226 points (not Merriam Webster approved)

N=20

MAGNETOHYDRODYNAMICS 210 POINTS

N=21

iNTERNATIONALIZATIONS 204 POINTS

N=22

HEXAHYDROXYCYCLOHEXANE 269 points (not Merriam Webster approved)

• I was in the middle of doing this, but you beat me to it! Well done.
– Erik
Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 18:27
• I quite like that someone did this as a software developer myself, so I wouldn't have wanted no-computers tag anyway!
– Plog
Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 10:01

N = 3

YAY, 48 points

N = 4

YAYA, 72 points

N = 5

YAYAS, 90 points

N = 6 (I'm sure this isn't optimal but I don't have time right now to search for something better)

AVATAR, 97 points

• Nice work. The 6 definitely looks promising. Don't know how I missed that 3 on my quick example attempt!
– Plog
Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 15:24

N=3:

Enter word: zax
Alphabet travel value: 48

C program to calculate alphabet travel value:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

int alphabet_travel(char *s)
{
int c = 0;
while(s[0] && s[1])
{
c += abs(s[1] - s[0]);
s++;
}
return c;
}

int main(void)
{
char s[7] = { 0 };
fputs("Enter word: ", stdout);
fflush(stdout);
scanf("%6s", s);
printf("Alphabet travel value: %d\n", alphabet_travel(s));
return 0;
}


3 letters:

48: zax, yay

4 letters:

72: yaya

5 letters:

90: yayas

6 letters:

104: sawbwa

7 letters:

127: layaway

8 letters:

133: layaways

9 letters:

141: graveyard

10 letters:

156: graveyards

11 letters:

167: hydrazoates

12 letters:

171: vascularizes

13 letters:

177: bureaucratize

14 letters:

191: bureaucratizes

15 letters:

198: vascularization

16 letters:

203: vascularizations

17 letters:

18 letters:

N=45

A whopping 325 points from: Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis -"A lung disease caused by inhaling very fine ash and sand dust." ---OED

Also:

The protein referred to as "Titin" has a proper name, which is ~189,819 letters long... I would like to claim my 1 billion 1,937,678 points for this word please.

• Sorry, but Titin's score has an upper bound of 4,745,475 points, but it's less since that score would be alternating As and Zs. Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 19:35
• I've calculated the score for Titin: 1,937,678. Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 19:42
• @ThomasMarkov Thanks for calculating the value! Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 20:46
• I get 319 for pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 2:03