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Could You Win the National Spelling Bee?

Test yourself with 17 of contestants' toughest winning words from 1926 to the present.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Consider yourself a killer speller?

Since 1926, the Scripps National Spelling Bee has been challenging tens of thousands of schoolchildren each year to learn their words in competition to be known as the best speller in the land. How well would you hold up? We’ve pulled what we thought were the trickiest winning words; either ask a friend to read them (pronunciation links included), or, flip through and see how many you would have guessed correctly.

knaidel (n.)

Means: Matzo ball; hear pronunciation

Winner: Arvind Mahankali, 2013

stromuhr (n.)

Means: Device used to measure amount and speed of blood flow through an artery; hear pronunciation

Winner: Anamika Veeramani, 2010

Laodicean (adj.)

Means: Indifferent in religion or politics; hear pronunciation

Winner: Kavya Shivashankar, 2009

serrefine (n.)

Means: Small forceps for clamping a blood vessel; hear pronunciation

Winner: Evan O’Dorney, 2007

appoggiatura (n.)

Means: Embellishing note or tone that precedes an essential melodic note or tone; hear pronunciation

Winner: Anurag Kashyap, 2005

This is how old words get removed from the dictionary.

autochthonous (adj.)

Means: Indigenous, native; hear pronunciation

Winner: David Tidmarsh, 2004

demarche (n.)

Means: A course of action; hear pronunciation

Winner: George Abraham Thampy, 2000

chiaroscurist (n.)

Means: An artist who specializes in chiaroscuro (contrasting effects of light and shade); hear pronunciation

Winner: Jody-Anne Maxwell, 1998

antediluvian (adj.)

Means: Primitive, old fashioned; hear pronunciation

Winner: Ned G. Andrews, 1994

fibranne (n.)

Means: Fabric made of spun-rayon yarn; hear pronunciation

Winner: Amy Marie Dimak, 1990

odontalgia (n.)

Means: Toothache; hear pronunciation

Winner: Jon Pennington, 1986

deification (n.)

Means: The act of treating someone or something like a god; hear pronunciation

Winner: Peg McCarthy, 1978

equipage (n.)

Means: Material used in equipment, or a horse-drawn carriage; hear pronunciation

Winner: Glen Van Slyke III, 1963

soubrette (n.)

Means: A frivolous young woman in comedies; hear pronunciation

Winner: Elizabeth Hess, 1953

semaphore (n.)

Means: A system of visual signaling using two handheld flags; hear pronunciation

Winner: John McKinney, 1946

foulard (n.)

Means: A lightweight silk, usually decorated with a printed pattern; hear pronunciation

Winner: Ward Randall, 1931

cerise (n.)

Means: A moderate red; hear pronunciation

Winner: Pauline Bell, 1926

Originally Published in Reader's Digest