Q: The word “winningest” comes to my attention every basketball season and grates on my nerves. I doubt that it’s valid even though it seems to be more and more common. Is a phrase like “the winningest coach” now acceptable?
A: I think “winningest” sounds like the language of a fourth-grader. Make that a third-grader. What’s wrong with saying “the coach with the most wins” or “the most successful coach” or “the coach with the best record”?
I regret to report, though, that “winningest” can be found in both The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. The American Heritage entry classifies it as “informal” usage. The “informal” gives all right-thinking people a good excuse to avoid it.
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