Presenting: The Best Word Ever | Reader's Digest

Presenting: The Best Word Ever

By Beth Dreher

Do you have a favorite word? When I asked that question around the office, the answers included “debacle,” (“You can really wrap your mouth around it,” said our assistant managing editor), “gazebo,” “sassafras,” “photosynthesis,” “onomatopoeia,” and, naturally, various words not fit to print.

Mine was a non-scientific poll of people within shouting distance of my desk, but Tom McCagg, a creative director in Portland, took the quest for the best word to another level. On his blog, Questionable Skills, McCagg took a cue from March Madness and pitted his favorite words against each other in a feat of bracketology that would put basketball wonks to shame.

According to this article, McCagg paged through the dictionary, picking out his favorite eight words for each letter of the alphabet. The “A” bracket included akimbo, ardor, abhor, ameliorate, apt, ample, anathema, and apropos. The words battled it out based “solely on my opinion (with some help from my wife),” said McCagg. A few months later, he’d winnowed down the list to the final four: gherkin, kerfuffle, diphthong, and hornswoggle. After a hard-fought battle, the winner: Diphthong. Said McCagg, “The silent ‘h’ made all the difference.”