The 25 Toughest Winning Words from the National Spelling Bee
The Scripps National Spelling Bee has been a yearly tradition since the 1920s. How would you fare trying to spell these baffling winning words?
Winning word 1928: albumen
Who won: Betty Robinson, a 13-year-old from Indiana
How to say it: “al-byoo-muh n”
What it means: egg white (as well as a type of protein found in egg whites and milk)
Don’t miss these hilarious and cringe-worthy spelling mistakes you won’t believe were printed.
Winning word 1929: asceticism
Who won: Virginia Hogan, a 12-year-old from Nebraska
How to say it: “uh–set–uh-siz-uh m”
What it means: the practice of avoiding indulgences and temptations, usually for religious reasons
Think you’re smarter than a fifth grader? Try naming these U.S. states without their vowels.
Winning word 1953: soubrette
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Who won: Elizabeth Hess, a 13-year-old from Arizona
How to say it: “soo-bret“
What it means: a high female vocal range or an actress in an opera with such a vocal range
Check out these beautiful romantic words from other languages that have no English equivalent—and are definitely prettier than these spelling bee words.
Winning word 1955: crustaceology
Who won: Sandra Sloss, a 13-year-old from Illinois
How to say it: “crus-tay-shee-aw-lo-jee”
What it means: the study of crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp
(This is why there’s a difference between “travelled vs traveled.”)
Winning word 1969: interlocutory
Who won: Susan Yoachum, a 14-year-old from Texas
How to say it: “in-ter-lok-yuh-tawr-ee”
What it means: given during the course of a legal action
Winning word 1971: shalloon
Who won: Jonathan Knisely, a 12-year-old from New Jersey
How to say it: “sha-loon“
What it means: a type of twilled fabric
Loving these spelling bee words? Here are some English words that don’t mean anything close to what they look like.
Winning word 1972: macerate
Who won: Robin Kral, a 14-year-old from Texas
How to say it: “mas–uh-reyt”
What it means: to soften (usually food) by soaking in liquid
Winning word 1974: hydrophyte
Who won: Julie Ann Junkin, a 12-year-old from Alabama
How to say it: “hahy-druh-fahyt”
What it means: an aquatic plant, one that grows only on or in water
While you’ve probably used some of these spelling bee words incorrectly, these are the 70 words and phrases you’ve definitely been using wrong.
Winning word 1979: maculature
Who won: Katie Kerwin McCrimmon, a 13-year-old from Colorado
How to say it: “mac-yoo-luh-chur”
What it means: in art, a printing impression made to remove excess ink