Scrabble fans: highest scoring organism name?

I’m a bit of a Scrabble junkie. It’s a great way for me to settle my little clump of grey matter and to deal with my low attention span in waitful situations.

So as I was waiting for a very slow moving group of waterbirds to float down the other (wet) day I was playing a little phone Scrabble in my spot and this thought hit me: What is the highest possible scoring single (legally official) word value for any single genus, species or common name of a species?

Anyone care to work that out?

It has to be a single (no spaces) word and officially legal as defined by the [Scrabble dictionary].(

You should also be aware of the availability of the letters in the game. That is, you can’t use more of any letter than there are in ‘the bag’

But don’t forget that 2 of the total 100 possible tiles are blanks, or wild cards.

Good luck!


Oh boy! Someone’s going to figure it out by running everthing Genus and above through the dictionary, I think?

My try: Zanthoxylum for 35 points


iNat does publish a list of of its taxa and common names. so i haven’t done it, but it should be relatively trivial to figure out the highest scoring word(s) from that set.

but i wouldn’t want to check each candidate word against the Scrobble dictionary you referenced using that page. if there’s an electronic list of all the words in the dictionary that’s publicly available, that would make it the whole task you’re proposing here much less work.

find the common set of words between taxon names and Scrabble dictionary first, and then in that smaller set, score them, and then figure out the highest scorer.

i think one complexity in this kind of question is whether you are allowed to potentially build longer-than-7-letter words by assuming that words can be built on top of each other like “flies” first and then adding “dragon” to make “dragonflies”? or would you allow cases where, say, you started with “bear” and added “snake” by joining the leading “s” in “snake” to the end of “bear” to make “bears”?

also, true Scrabble scoring is very position dependent, since there are the special boxes that could double or triple word or letter scores. So would you consider those, too?


Ouch. I was hoping for just having some fun twiddling around with organic software.

I know, and the position dependent thing and double/triples, etc.

All very important if this was a strategic tournament competition. But again, just hoping that others might have some fun musing on single words, scored only by the total letter values AND you can use any of the full 100 starting letters, but only as many as there are as shown by the chart (plus the two wild cards).

It would also be great to see who has the best single rack (7 letter) word.

And who has the longest!


Great start fmiudo!

Thanks for starting us off.

I had the thought of Zanthoxylum too. How about Oxyzygonectes, for 38?


And… we’re off!

Very nice. Thanks for playing!

Found a better one: Rhizophyllidaceae, for 40. Not a genus or species, though. The order Rhizophydiomycetes is worth even more, at 46.

but Scrabble rules don’t accept sciency words, not so?
Dragonflies but not Odonata?

to be a party pooper, Oxyzygonectes is not a valid scrabble word, and neither are Rhizophyllidaceae and Rhizophydiomycetes because they don’t fit on the board (15 x 15 tiles)


Hu hu hu I’m back to the top

Make sure you also use to check if your word is valid too.

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Following @pisum’s rules:

  1. worm (Lumbricus terrestris) - 9 points
  2. wormwood (Artemisa absinthium) - 17 points

Note: Sorry for the last post, tried to delete it but couldn’t figure out how because @pisum already covered the same topic, but better. @tiwane could you remove my previous reply?

i guess just wracking brains is fine, but if you’re going to do hypotheticals like this, isn’t it nice to know the actual answers?

click here if you want to know the answers

assuming taxa in iNat as of 2022-06-01 and disregarding double and triple scoring:

Highest-Scoring Category Dictionary Word(s) Points
English common name both Quicksilvers (genus Hadromyia) 30 (+7 tile bonus for “silvers”)
English common name (alternates) CSW (SOWPODS) only Leatherjackets (genus Oligoplites, family Monacanthidae, or family Tipulidae), Chickenpox (Human alphaherpesvirus 3) 30 (+7 tile bonus for either “leather”, “jackets”, or “chicken”)
Up-to-7-letter English common name both Jackdaw (Corvus monedula) 24 (+7 tile bonus)
8-letter English common name both Jackfish (Esox lucius or Sander canadensis) 27 (+7 tile bonus)
Taxon name, disregarding 7-tile rule and 15-letter max rule neither Chrysoparadoxophyceae 49
Taxon name, disregarding 7-tile rule neither Xochiquetzallia 45
Taxon name, disregarding 7-tile rule NWL (TWL) Myxomycetes, Archaeopteryx (extinct) 30
Taxon name both Chrysanthemum 29 (+7 tile bonus for “Chrys”+“um” on top of "anthem’)
Taxon name CSW (SOWPODS) only Zanthoxylum 35 (no 7 tile bonus for “Zantho”)
Up-to-7-letter Taxon neither Zygonyx, Zyxomma 30 (+7 tile bonus)
Up-to-7-letter Taxon both Zelkova 23 (+7 tile bonus)
8-letter Taxon neither Myxozyma 32 (+7 tile bonus)
8-letter Taxon both Quillaja 24 (+7 tile bonus)
8-letter Taxon (alternate) CSW (SOWPODS) only Hydrozoa 24 (+7 tile bonus)

if you don’t take into account a potential 7-tile bonus on other words (“zantho” is only 6 tiles), this is in fact the highest scorer if you use the CSW (SOWPODS) dictionary, as opposed to the NWL (TWL).


Lowest scoring: 2 points - ai (Bradypus tridactylus) and al (Morinda citrifolia).


@pisum For highest scoring 7 letter English common names, wouldn’t Mezquit(Prosopis) be higher with 27 points?


yes, Mezquit would give you 27 points + 7 tile bonus, and Mezquite or Mezquits (8 letters) would give you 28 points + 7 tile bonus. both are valid in the Scrabble dictionary, it seems, but neither are defined as English common names in iNaturalist. (Mesquite would be the common English name in iNat.)

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I don’t think it’s officially legal, but Zyzzx must be up there!

You mean Zyzzyx the wasp?

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Yes, I did.