Words whose letters are in alphabetical order

What is the longest word in English whose letters are in alphabetical order? The answer seems to be seven letters or, at a stretch, eight. Only two such words showed up in the Advanced Learners Dictionary, beefily and billowy, but four more turned up in the Summer Institute of Linguistics list of 250,000 words. In all they are:
animals whose feet are not visible
act of speaking to another (as against soliloquy)
in a beefy fashion
variant of begorra, Irish expletive rarely heard
characterised by billows
(1) An ulcer of the eye; (2) a kind of grass
The last of these exists in an alternative spelling of aegilops, so there is the only eight-letter word.

Apart from spoonfeed (which might be disallowed, since many dictionaries give it only as a hyphenated word spoon-feed), there are also no words longer than seven letters whose letters are in reverse alphabetical order. Among the seven-letter words, most are past tenses, such as

but there are also these oddities:
a palm tree
Patagonian tribe and its language

Return to Museum home page

Page created by John Higgins on 26 January, 1999, updated June 2024.