Scripps National Spelling Bee

by Derek, aka Word Buff
(Brisbane, Qld, Australia)

Scripps National Spelling Bee is the largest educational competition in the English-speaking world.

The National Spelling Bee, as it is usually called, has been held every year since 1925, with the exception of three war years, 1943-45. The National Bee has consistently increased in popularity since its inception, with more than 10 million spellers now competing each year!

The Bee has also steadily increased in difficulty. To see this, you only need to glance through the list of winning words — the final word in the inaugural 1925 Bee was GLADIOLUS, while the winner in 2009 had to negotiate the treacherous LAODICEAN.

As you can imagine, with more than 10 million competitors, there is a rather long and tortuous lead-up to the event, with all but a handful of contenders knocked out well before the finals. The finalists do battle in the splendor of the Grand Hyatt hotel, Washington D.C., in the week following Memorial Day weekend (i.e. late May or early June).

To compete in the event, you'll need to be 14 or younger on September 1 of the previous bee year, and have not yet completed eighth grade. You'll also need to belong to a school that has enrolled in the competition through a local Scripps sponsor. If you're not sure whether your school has registered, just hassle your teacher ;-)

And by the way, if you get a buzz out of spelling obscure words, you don't have to compete in Scripps National Spelling Bee to enjoy the event. Every year the most exciting, later rounds of the event are televised on ESPN and ABC. (See the Comments area at the bottom of this article for updates on the next national bee!)

So, what's it actually like to compete in the Nationals? Here's a snippet from the 2007 finals that will either whet your appetite or scare you, depending on whether you intend watching or spelling...

If you decide to enter, make sure you visit Word-Buff's Spelling Bee Guide for a few tips and resources recommended by spelling bee experts.

I'll use the Comments area below to post National Spelling Bee updates. Feel free to post any of your own thoughts or anecdotes here too by just clicking on the comments link below...

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Spelling Bee 2010
by: Anonymous

The national spelling bee this year was an incredible experience. Just sitting on that stage in the semifinals, on ESPN...even though I didn't win, I could have. And that was really cool. Years of studying spelling paid off!

Come on now - stop teasing us! Tell us which one you are ;-)

I am one of them
by: Anonymous

Its nice to see so many nonspellers interested in spelling... and it's always cool to see my name in random places! Although I wish I had been one of the "top ten" instead of one in the "they had their hopes dashed" list. I hate French words!
Signed, a 2010 semifinalist :)

We have a winner....
by: Derek, aka Word-Buff

Anamika Veeramani is the 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion - Congratulations Anamika!

In case you were wondering, Anamika's final correctly spelled word was STROMUHR, which is a medical instrument used to measure the rate of blood flow through an artery (obviously!).

2010 National Spelling Bee Words
by: Derek, aka Word-Buff

Hi all - How do you whittle down 273 spelling whizzes to just 10 finalists? Like this...

Here is a list of all the words that spellers got wrong during the 2010 semifinal rounds. Remember that in this bee it's one mistake and you're out! So each of these words ended the dream for the spelling bee hopeful listed in brackets after the word...

ostrichism (Rory O'Donoghue)
nepenthe (Anjali Nair)
phillumenist (Sarah Gadre)
bilophodont (David Phan)
paracusia (Rahul Malayappan)
longueur (Michaela Minock)
desipience (Owayne Rodney)
pneumonectomy (Shivani Angappan)
tiralee (Dakota Jones)
Barbizon (Anjithaa Radakrishnan)
phytoplankter (Tom Winter)
devant (Nicholas Rushlow)
goniometer (Connor Aberlé)
troco (Neel Mehta)
fustanella (Tim Ruiter)
sautoir (Karen Laska)
foliocellosis (Esther Park)
trompillo (Brandon Whitehead)
caprifig (Brian King)
Bayesian (Modhura Chakravarty)
lorimer (Sonia Schlesinger)
fazenda (Emily Keaton)
icteritious (Anja Beth Swoap)
dysautonomia (Emma Johanningsmeier)
lassi (Hannah Evans)
paravane (Neetu Chandak)
Aufgabe (George Jose)
hyleg (Sukanya Roy)
siffleur (Sean Calhoun)
meperidine (Sarah Allen)
favilla (Jeremiah Cortez)
nephrocytary (Anvita Mishra)
jehu (Grace Remmer)
phenazocine (Vaidya Govindarajan)
chistka (Aldrin D'Silva)
poilu (Julia Denniss)
Guarnerius (Gina Liu)
apogalacteum (Neetu Chandak)
presa (Arvind Mahankali)

Phew!! So who could survive such an orthographic nightmare? Just ten phenomenal spellers. Here they are...

Laura Newcombe
Adrian Gunawan
Lanson Tang
Elizabeth Platz
Shantanu Srivatsa
Anamika Veeramani
Joanna Ye
Julianna Canabal-RodrĂ­guez
Aditya Chemudupaty
Andrew Grose

And soon, there will be one. Stay tuned...

by: Anonymous

Hey guys - i really want to participate in the national spelling bee - I just get so excited everytime i see it, but i live in india, and i have no clue how to do it because we don't have local bee sponsors or anything, and i'm 13, but i'll be in 9th grade next year, so I'm really not eligible any more. I loved watching the spelling bee on ESPN, but i don't get ABC, so - that's that. I still do whatever spelling bees i can in India though.

Hi there anonymous ;-)
Glad you enjoy the Bee! They do take entries from some other countries (i.e. outside America), but to find out about whether you can enter you should contact them directly. Here is the contact form you can use to send the organizers your question...

Please let us know how you get on!

by: Anonymouse

Thanks for the heads up. I should be able to at least watch the finals, up in Canada here, but will figure out if I can view the rest on the net, etc, If I do, I will try to drop you an email. Cheers.

2010 National Spelling Bee details
by: Derek, aka Word-Buff

Here's a quick rundown on what I know so far about the upcoming 2010 Scripps Spelling Bee...
  • 273 Spellers will compete in the Nationals, which will be held in Washington D.C. at the Grand Hyatt hotel, from June 2-4.
  • June 2 and 3 are devoted to preliminary rounds in which all 273 spellers participate.
  • On June 2, spellers take a computer-based test (Round 1), while on June 3, Rounds 2 and 3 take place on stage. The semi-finals and finals are then fought out on stage throughout June 4.
  • Round 3 of the preliminary event will be broadcast on ESPN3 from 1:15-5:15PM (ET) on June 3.
  • The semi-finals will be televised on ESPN from 10AM-1PM (ET), June 4, and will be hosted by Sage Steele (from SportsCenter).
  • The finals will be televised on ABC from 8-10PM (ET), June 4, and will be hosted by Chris Harrison (from The Bachelor).
  • Erin Andrews (from Dancing With The Stars) will be the live reporter for all the June 4 action.
P.S. If you know something about the 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee that I don't - or if you'd like to add something of interest - please feel free to click the comments link below and have your say!

by: Anonymous

I remember being able to spell refrigerator in
1st class in 1966 in 1.5 seconds. It was fun to spell.I wonder if "companies" are scouting for talented kids? I think spelling is important and
cheers Tony k

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