Spelling Bee Winning Words

atkins-bookshelf-wordsAnsun Sujoe, a seventh-grader from Fort Worth Texas and Sriram Hathway, an eighth-grader from Painted Post, New York were crowned co-winners of the 87th Scripps National Spelling Bee on May 28, 2014. It is the first time since 1962, that there has been a tie in the competition’s history (a tie also occurred in 1950 and 1957). Sujoe and Hathway spelled their way to victory, beating out 279 other spellers from eight countries, by correctly spelling all their words correctly, and then correctly spelling all 25 of the tie-breaker words. As often is the case in these competitions — the winning words were more arcane than any SAT words — even know-it-all Siri would be stumped. Below is the list of spelling bee winning words, and their definitions, from recent years.

feuilleton: the section of a European newspaper that entertains the general reader
stichomythia: a dialogue in which two actors speak alternate lines of verse

knaidel: a type of dumpling, also known as a matzo ball

guetapens: an ambush or trap

cymotrichous: having wavy hair

stromuhr: a medical device that measures the speed of blood flow through an artery

Laodicean: a person with a half-hearted attitude toward politics or religion

guerdon: a reward

serrefine: (yes, another medical device) small forceps used to clamp an artery

Ursprache: a reconstructed language

appoggiatura: a type of musical note


Read related posts: Why is it Called a Spelling Bee?

Rare Anatomy Words
Words Oddities: Fun with Vowels
What Rhymes with Orange

For further reading: spellingbee.com/bee-blog/bee/ansun-sriram-first-co-champions-52-years

My Favorite Words – Simon Winchester

atkins-bookshelf-wordsSimon Winchester is a British-born American journalist and author, recognized for his best-selling non-fiction books: The Professor and the Madman (1998), The Map that Changed the World (2001), The Meaning of Everything (2003), Krakatoa: The Day the Wold Exploded (2003), and A Crack in the Edge of the World (2005). Two of his most successful books, The Professor and the Madman and The Meaning of Everything, focus on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Naturally, Winchester has a deep respect for the OED, and of the English language itself. In the paperback edition of The Professor and the Madman, Winchester shares with his readers his favorite words out of the nearly 750,00 words defined by the OED. His selection of words were based on three criteria: first, he had to like them; second, they were “shamefully misunderstood”; and third “all can be used without the risk of sounding foolish or bombastic.” Readers will have to judge that third criterion by their own experience.

Philogyny: admiration of women (opposite of misogyny)

Tourbillion: a whirlwind or vortex; the mechanics of a watch

Sainfoin: a pink-flowered plant, of the legume family, native to Asia

Terbinth: a small Mediterranean tree, of the cashew family, that yields turpentine and tanning material

Loosestrife: plants with leafy stems and yellow or white flowers, of the primrose family

Pellucid: easily understood, transparently clear

Cacoethes: the uncontrollable urge to do something harmful

Chance-medley: a random occurrence or accident

Boustrophedon: a form of writing alternate lines that proceed in one direction, and reverse direction in the next (eg, from left to right, and then right to left)

Read related posts: Words Invented by Dickens
Rare Anatomy Words

For further reading: The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester, Oxford (1998)