Scripps National
Spelling Bee Words

Spellers are cool, but this page is a brief introduction to Scripps National Spelling Bee words. I'll talk a little bit about what words are allowed, how they are selected, and show you quite a few examples of words appearing at various stages of the Bee.

NOTE — Whenever I discuss a spelling bee word somewhere on this website, you'll see the word is highlighted as a link. Just click the link to open a new page at the place where I talk about the word in more detail.


Scripps National Spelling Bee Words
Where Do They Come From?


Every word announced to the trembling spellers on stage in Washington for the National Spelling Bee is taken from Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged, usually just abbreviated as Webster's Third.

NOTE — To be a tad pernickety, which you kind of have to be at this level, the official word source also includes the addenda section of this dictionary.

Every year, this dictionary is scoured by a word list team managed by Carolyn Andrews. Words extracted from the impossibly large tome are assembled into lists by degree of difficulty, with each list being assigned to a particular round of the Bee.

All words are fair game, including proper nouns (sorry Scrabble players!). The ruling about variant spellings is a bit subtle, but important enough, I think, to warrant quoting in full...

Scripps National Spelling Bee Words - Variant Spellings



Scripps National Spelling Bee Words
The Championship List


Every spelling bee has to end, and to make sure it happens, a very special collection of words is assembled for the last few rounds of the Bee. The collection is appropriately called The Championship List.

Want to get a feel for what the words in the final rounds of the National Spelling Bee are like? Let's take a look at the sequence of words that ended the 2009 Nationals. We take up the bee when there are just four contestants remaining...

  • Kyle Mou
  • Aishwarya Pastapur
  • Tim Ruiter
  • Kavya Shivashankar

As they fight out the final rounds, the judges are forced to bring out the big guns — The Championship Word List. As if the earlier words haven't been difficult enough!

Note the caliber of words required to dismiss these amazing spellers one by one, until just one speller remains, to be crowned 2009 National Spelling Bee Champ. A name colored in red means that the speller was dismissed at that point in the Bee after misspelling the word appearing before that name.

SCHIZAFFINKyle Mou
WISENT — Aishwarya Pastapur
DIACOELE — Kavya Shivashankar
REREDOS — Tim Ruiter
ANTONOMASIA — Aishwarya Pastapur
BOUQUINISTE — Kavya Shivashankar
ORIFLAMME — Tim Ruiter
GUAYABERA — Aishwarya Pastapur
ISAGOGE — Kavya Shivashankar
SOPHROSYNE — Tim Ruiter
MENHIRAishwarya Pastapur
PHORESY — Kavya Shivashankar
MAECENASTim Ruiter
LAODICEAN — Kavya Shivashankar


Scripps National Spelling Bee Words
Final Words


Below is a list of the last correctly spelled word at each Bee between 1990 and 2009, inclusive. Beside each winning word I've listed the name/s of the speller/s who won the championship by correctly spelling that word...

1990 FIBRANNE — Amy Marie Dimak
1991 ANTIPYRETIC — Joanne Lagatta
1992 LYCEUM — Goad Amanda Goad
1993 KAMIKAZE — Geoff Hooper
1994 ANTEDILUVIAN — Ned G. Andrews
1995 XANTHOSIS — Justin Tyler Carroll
1996 VIVISEPULTURE — Wendy Guey
1997 EUONYM — Rebecca Sealfon
1998 CHIAROSCURIST — Jody-Anne Maxwell
1999 LOGORRHEA — Nupur Lala
2000 DEMARCHEGeorge Thampy
2001 SUCCEDANEUM — Sean Conley
2002 PROSPICIENCE — Pratyush Buddiga
2003 POCOCURANTE — Sai R. Gunturi
2004 AUTOCHTHONOUS — David Tidmarsh
2005 APPOGGIATURA — Anurag Kashyap
2006 URSPRACHE — Katharine Close
2007 SERREFINE — Evan O'Dorney
2008 GUERDON — Sameer Mishra
2009 LAODICEAN — Shivashankar Kavya Shivashankar

And it's hard to imagine a more fitting closure to this page than a tribute to that very final word...


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