These Words Won the Last 12 National Spelling Bees
Dust off those spelling skills.
There are plenty of Southerners out there obsessed with grammar, still more who get anxious when semi-colons are deployed inappropriately, and even more who appreciate words spelled correctly. (For the latter, don’t we all?) That’s to say some of us can’t help but offer up a correction when someone mixes up their “I”s and “E”s when they arrive after “C”s. Some words require study; others are deeply ingrained. But there’s one place that’s sure to offer up words that will stump even the most seasoned spellers among us. That’s The Scripps National Spelling Bee. Take a spin through the last 12 years of winning spelling bee words and test your knowledge. (We’ve also included definitions for these tricky terms, because these are not words we hear every day.)
2006 — Ursprache
(noun) Ur·spra·che — a parent language, one hypothetically reconstructed from later languages, such as Proto-Germanic
From German: "ur," meaning "original," and "sprache," meaning "speech"
2007 — serrefine
(noun) serre·fine — a small forceps (medical clamp) for clamping a blood vessel during surgery
2008 — guerdon
(noun) guer·don — reward, recompense
Dates to 14th century Chaucer ("The Romaunt of the Rose"), and later used by Shakespeare
2009 — Laodicean
(adjective) La·od·i·ce·an — lukewarm, indifferent, or halfhearted in regards to religion or politics
Dates to "The Book of Revelation" (3:15-16), in which the Church of Laodicea is described as being "lukewarm" or irresolute in devotion
2010 — stromuhr
(noun) strom·uhr — a rheometer (an instrument for the measuring flow of viscous substances) that measures the amount and speed of blood flow through an artery
2011 — cymotrichous
(adjective) cy·mot·ri·chous — characterized by having wavy hair
From Ancient Greek: "kuma," meaning "wave," and "trikh," meaning "hair"
2012 — guetapens
(noun) guet·a·pens — ambush, snare, trap
From Middle French "de guet apens," meaning "with premeditation"
2013 — knaidel
(noun) knai·del — matzo ball
From Yiddish "kneydel," and from Middle High German "knödel"
2014 — feuilleton, stichomythia
(noun) feuil·le·ton — a section of a European newspaper presenting material designed to entertain the general reader
Originated in French newspapers as a supplement including information on popular themes in the arts, literature, or fashion
(noun) sticho·myth·ia — actors’ dialogue delivered in alternating lines that simulates dispute or conflict (as in Greek drama), which often uses and twists the words of the lines that came before
From Greek: "stichos," meaning "row," "line," or "verse," and "mythos," meaning "speech" or "myth"
2015 — scherenschnitte, nunatak
(noun) sche·ren·schnit·te — the art of cutting paper into decorative designs
From German: "scherenschnitt," meaning "scissors cut"
(noun) nun·a·tak — a hill or mountain completely surrounded by glacial ice
From Inuit: "nunataq"
2016 — Feldenkrais, gesellschaft
(medical trademark) Fel·den·krais — used to indicate a system or method of aided bodily movements, the exercises of which attempt to lessen tension and increase mind-body awareness
(noun) ge·sell·schaft — a social relationship characterized by impersonal ties, contracted associations, or duty to a person or group
2017 — marocain
(noun) mar·o·cain — a ribbed crepe fabric used in women's clothing
From French: "crepe marocain," meaning "Moroccan crepe"
WATCH: Southern Places You're Probably Mispronouncing
Would these words have stumped you? Memorize them and bust them out at your next get-together…spelling skills are the ultimate party trick, after all.