26 letters. One alphabet. Like it or not, some are better than others
We use letters every single day, and get at times it feels as though we fail to truly appreciate their value.
Sure, there’s the Scrabble system, where letters are assigned values based on their frequency, but can you really trust anyone who claims Z is 10 times as good as S? That’s full-on silly.
You eat every day, so you mentally establish which foodstuffs are better than others. You watch TV and films plenty of times over the course of a week, so you establish which are objectively superior to the rest (and, indeed, you collate internal rankings within those shows).
If anything, it’s irresponsible not to do the same with letters, which is why we’ve done your work for you.
What follows it an objective ranking of every letter in the English alphabet, from worst to best. Capital letters only.
Complaints will be registered and subsequently ignored.
Inconsistence in design, inconsistence in pronunciation and a frequent mismatch between how the letter is referred to and the sound it most frequently makes means it’s bad news for G. “Guh” is the sound an ageing man makes as his third heart attack finishes him off. Grim.
Bloody L. Try harder. You’re nothing but a waste of a right-angle, the noise made by someone who wishes to sing but knows no words, a sound adored by racists doing unacceptably offensive Asian accents. Lamentable.
Orientation can make a world of difference. The letter Z looks like a lightning bolt, while a 90-degree-rotated one, an N, looks like a folded-up letter from the council slowly unfolding itself on the kitchen work-surface. No good.
Come on mate, no one wants to be cutting themselves on a letter. V can f*ck right off. Vile.
Turns out you can have too much going on in a letter. Is it round? Is it angular? Sort your shit out, R, and be either the B or K you long to be. Rubbish.
The letter A looks like a pair of legs bound at the knee, and why would anyone celebrate such a removal of freedom? Awful.
The letter C only really comes into its own when it has the fun little dangly accent hanging from it, like in Fenerbahçe. Otherwise, what is it, really? It just looks like it would fall over. Çrap.
It once led Blockbusters contestants to ask, “Can I have a P please Bob?”, and is usually deployed in similarly lowbrow ways (you can use your imagination). Pathetic.
“Wow” is a reasonably useful word, as beautifully deployed by Hollywood’s Owen Wilson both forwards and backwards – and, in a world with no Ws, in place of Owen Wilson saying “Wow” you’d just have Oen ilson saying “o”. But those Sofology adverts aren’t good, are they? Woeful.
Warm yet closed off, expansive yet retreating into itself, B can’t quite make its mind up. It’s extremely useful when crying or impersonating a stuttering cartoon pig, but neither of those tasks are really important. An essential letter for apiarists. By all means, fine.
Symmetrical in two conventional ways as well as rotationally, yet understated about it; has the elegance of a medieval count. You could go to sleep on an H and get a solid eight hours. Never too intrusive, but can hold a word together at the front and back like fancy book-ends, or be wilfully dropped as an affectation. Honestly, not bad.
The best letter for colouring in and making “oo” words into little faces by adding pupils, but also easily mistaken for a zero. “OK”.
A big scorer in Scrabble, and in possession of a fetching tail, but endlessly reliant on U in an off-putting fashion. Quite suffocating.
Not a million miles away from a Nike swoosh, and a fine middle initial for all good carton characters. Plus you could catch a fish with it. Jaunty.
The magic letter, transforming all that come before it. Magic E. Excellent.
It’s a word on its own, which is great, but it’s also, ultimately, just a line. Insignificant.
Too non-committal. Either go left or go right. So much promise, but fails to deliver. Gonna go ahead and blame it for Tom Jones’ ‘Delilah’, too. Two birds with one stone. Yeah, whatevs.
Beloved as a word by Prince and millennials, as well as an important part of your mum. Unremarkable.
Solid, symmetrical, spiky and striking, an M is like a section of a crown. Majestic.
As any Mortal Kombat fan knows, a K just makes everything kooler. Plus it sometimes goes silent in front of an N, kovertly koncealing itself klose to its kolleague/kompatriot. Killer.
You can shorten a rude word to just its initial letter. Like, lots of them can be referred to as “the [letter] word”, but only the F word can be reduced to just an F, as in “tell him to F off”, “I really F-ed this up” etc. Nobody has ever said “I stepped in dog S”. Flawless.
Like a sideways smile, a half-moon, a mysterious railway tunnel and a colouring-in challenge combined, D is casual enough that it can be dropped from words like Ol’ without minding, and sexually mature enough that it can be used to allude to a member. Delicious.
Z looks like lightning, sounds like a powertool, denotes a nap and looks excellent carved into a baddie’s blouson with a rapier. Zingy, zesty, zippy!
T might seem unexciting, but it’s solid as f*ck, the dependable brick shithouse of the letter world. The letter T is to writing what someone getting hit over the head with a plank of wood is to cinema: essential. Terrific.
The most appropriately-shaped letter of them all. Looks like a snake, sounds like a snake, and yet it’s not a snake: it’s just a letter, yet one with the ability to multiply all it touches. Supreme!
The most badass letter available, thanks to its relative scarcity, its multiple points of symmetry, its complex sound that often does the work of two letters, and the incredible work it has done for the xylophone community. Plus you can make words that contain it look all the more space-age and exotic by dropping their initial vowel. Xhilerating.
So there you have it, all the letters ranked. Next week, every number between one and one million.