Commonly found in school play yards where team captains alternate choosing members one at a time, each time choosing the best member out of the group until there is no one left out of those wanting to play.

I am looking for a word that is not necessary related to two teams but could relate to a a bunch of people being ordered by selecting one at a time using a criteria resulting in the sorting of the individuals using that criteria from best to worst.


The girls in class created a list of the most popular boys in class to the least popular by selecting the most popular boy at a time from the remaining group until none were left.

This selection/removal from the group one at a time is called?

I want to find a words I can use to describe societal selection criteria made by humans e.g. how jobs are filled etc , online dating behavior etc.

If I use the words "ranked selection" it sounds more mathematical which I am not trying to convey.

It is in the same family as "natural selection" but this is not natural selection but selection based on what today's society values. There is nothing natural about it and for example in job interviews they don't quantify ability by testing them but instead go on their gut based on visual looking at person and social interaction. Same with dating, where people don't like at what people like and do personality matching but instead go on looks. I am looking for a word that doesn't describe the single selection criteria of the person hiring or the person choosing a profile in online dating but the net ordered selection effect of everyone, unbeknownst to each other, using the same technique

  • 3
    It's called "picking teams." And the players aren't necessarily selected based on quality. Favoritism plays a large part. At a more grandiose level, it's called "a draft." I'm sure "sorting" or "sort" could be used in some contexts. Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 13:29
  • 1
    I think we still need an example sentence. How will you use your word?
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 13:44
  • 4
    It's a process of elimination isn't it? One by one the better candidates are eliminated until there are none left.
    – Charl E
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 13:51
  • 2
    Progressive inclusion / progressive elimination ?
    – Monzoor
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 13:54
  • 1
    @dev2go Although you've made the question clearer, that's not an example of how you want to use your word; it's a description of the process (similar to the first paragraph). Such an approach may not work with other word-request questions, where an example sentence with a blank in it is needed.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 16:30

4 Answers 4


This process of selection has come to be known colloquially as a draft

draft noun

  1. a selection or drawing of persons, by lot or otherwise, from the general body of the people for military service; levy; conscription.

  2. the persons so selected.

  3. Sports. a selecting or drawing of new players from a choice group of amateur players by professional teams, especially a system of selecting new players so that each team in a professional league receives some of the most promising players.

Source: dictionary.com

As the definition list implies, the term originated from a general sense of drawing from a source or pool, adopted into military duties and service and migrated into the common lexicon for sports. Consider the Kontinental Hokey League Draft, the National Basketball Association Draft and many other sports leagues. It has also been adopted as terminology as a game mechanic.

You can rework to your example as:

The girls in class conducted a popularity draft of all boys in class by selecting the most popular boy at a time until none were left.

This was essentially the plot of South Park season 11 episode 14 The List, November 14, 2007.

As Clare mentioned in the first comment, drafting is a formal process for basically picking teams.


The following examples might be usefull:

It is not always easy to rank the students in order of ability.

The list is ordered alphabetically.


How about “Value Selection”? Inspired from within your question.


It is the process of grading which results in a graded list.


grade VERB

[WITH OBJECT] 1 Arrange in or allocate to grades; class or sort.
‘they are graded according to thickness’

‘Voter education should extend to rating or grading the performance of an elected representative.’



1 consisting of a series in which each thing is slightly more difficult, slightly better, slightly stronger, etc. than the next

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.