Winning Spelling Words

June 5, 2012 in English

This list of spelling words is really entertaining. My favorite was syllepsis, which even after reading the definition, I still was not sure of what it means! And #11 was antediluvian which I thought meant “before the flood” (Biblical flood of Noah), but that definition wasn’t mentioned here. It just says here it means ancient. So the word has lost some specificity and become generalized to where it now just means supremely old. But words have often morphed that way. Kind of like the way the word dog in Anglo Saxon used to mean a particular breed–a mastiff. The overall word for what we call a dog in Old English was hound.  Hound, in turn, became more restricted in its meanng over time, while “dog” became broader. Fun stuff.

Yesterday, 14-year-old Snigdha Nandipati from San Diego won the Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling the word guetapens, which means “ambush.” To celebrate Nandipati’s impressive achievement, here are 17 of the most interesting words from the Bee’s 87-year history.

1. Gladiolus, 1925. The word (a type of flower) is notable not due to its complexity, but because it was the first-ever winning word.

2. Albumen, 1928. The white part of an egg. Who knew?

3. Promiscuous, 1937. I just like the idea of an eight-year-old asking the judges to use it in a sentence.

4. Crustaceology, 1955. The study of crustaceans, of course. Doesn’t it roll off of the tongue nicely?

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