"Torment" is an interesting word-based number activity. Start by assigning a number value to each letter, so a = 1, b = 2, c = 3, and so on, up to z = 26. For each word, multiply the values of its letters together. For example, take the word "word". Now, w = 23, o = 15, r = 18, and d = 4. If we multiply those values together, 23 × 15 × 18 × 4 = 24,840.

The object of Torment is to find a word that gives you the highest possible product that is *less than* 100,000,000. For example, "drudgery" is a good word, since 4 × 18 × 21 × 4 × 7 × 5 × 18 × 25 = 95,256,000. Can you find a better one?

If you're looking for a good word, it's probably best to look at words of 7 to 9 letters, although longer words may work well too. There is an ancient Greek mathematician whose name is close to 100,000,000. One good word has been used several times on this page already. The best word that I have been able to find is used in my book review of Guesstimation.

For a similar recreation using addition instead of multiplication, see One-Dollar Words.

See also math activities for kids and other word-related mathematical recreations.

Sources used (see bibliography page for titles corresponding to numbers): 67.