It’s no secret: I love the Scripps National Spelling Bee. A few years ago I live blogged the event, and last year spellebrity Amber Born even stopped by to tell us what the bee is really like – if you are at all a bee enthusiast, it is a must-read! This year I couldn’t confer superlatives because – gasp! – I missed it. If you read the post a few days ago about cutting cable, that’s no surprise. But as we celebrate dual winners Vanya Shivashankar and Gokul Venkatachalam, we can still look back on the 2015 words that were.
Meaning: a traditional Provençal fish stew originating from the port city of Marseille
Can you use it in a sentence? At the 4th of July picnic, Rhonda – and her entire extended family – learned that bouillabaisse is a dish best stored out of the hot sun.
Meaning: a North African viper that has a spike over each eye.
Can you use it in a sentence? George’s cerastes costume did not strike fear on Halloween night, because everyone thought he was some sort of weird unicorn.
Meaning: a diacritic mark (ˇ) placed over a letter to indicate modification of the sound in Slavic and other languages.
Can you use it in a sentence? In a bid to distinguish baby Isabella from the other girls with the same name, her parents placed an unnecessary hacek over the a.
Meaning: production of cells
Can you use it in a sentence? Nina’s mother called the teen’s acne “excessive cytopoiesis of oil cells,” because Nina’s mother is the worst.
Meaning: an artificial, fortified island
Can you use it in a sentence? I think the island on Lost was a crannog, but I’m not sure because I stopped watching after the third season.
Meaning: a foot of three syllables consisting of one short syllable followed by two long ones, or one unstressed syllable followed by two stressed ones.
Can you use it in a sentence? “Rumor has it that Drake’s next mixtape contains a rap in which every verse begins and ends with a bacchius.” — This is actually Jacques Bailly’s sentence.
Meaning: a dark green variety of zucchini
Can you use it in a sentence? The cocozelle is an especially bland food, considering it sounds like it is named after an especially sassy French lady.
Meaning: meditative concentration
Can you use it in a sentence?: In math class, I would frequently feign a state of samadhi so that the teacher would think I was paying attention and wouldn’t call on me.
meaning: a short composition for the piano
Can you use it in a sentence? Mozart hinted to his followers that a new albumblatt was dropping next summer.
Meaning: a squat smiling comic figure used as a mascot
Can you use it in a sentence? I avoid standing next to tall friends in photos, lest I look like a billiken.
Meaning: poetic inspiration
Can you use it in a sentence? The hippocrene – ATTACKED – my braaaaain – and speech …… and now… I saaaay everything like a slam…. poem.[Raise arms above head dramatically]
Meaning: immature adolescent girl
Can you use it in a sentence? Move, backfisch, get out the way – your Zayn memorial is blocking the entire hallway.
Meaning: relating to the texture of an igneous rock in which small crystals of one mineral occur within crystals of another.
Can you use it in a sentence? These Billy Crystal Russian nesting dolls are especially poikilitic.
Meaning: jawed vertibrates
Can you use it in a sentence: Marge, who has a very weak jawline, lamented that she “barely even looks like a gnasthostome.”
Meaning: the center of a municipality or city in the Philippines
Can you use it in a sentence? When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go to the población.
Meaning: an open-heart surgery that repairs a mitral valve that is narrowed from mitral valve stenosis.
Can you use it in a sentence: Broken-hearted Phil said that he felt like he had undergone a commissurotomy, but it was just a nasty breakup and he should probably deal with that.
Meaning: public attention or acclaim not necessarily based on or proportionate to real value or achievement
Can you use it in a sentence: Did you hear that they’re thinking of putting a portrait of the Kardashian family in the dictionary next to the word réclame?
Meaning: the regions below Hades where the Titans were confined; an infernal region; hell.
Can you use it in a sentence? After Whitney proclaimed that middle school was “positively tartarean,” she found that her classmates made it a lot more tartarean.
Meaning: a German prison camp for officers
Can you use it in a sentence? Fresh out of the oflag, Albert asked Whitney to remind him again what was so tartarean about middle school.
Meaning: a Hindu dancing girl, in particular one at a southern Indian temple.
Can you use it in a sentence: Bridget had dreams of becoming a bayadere, but her parents pushed her into Irish dance instead.
Meaning: inflamation of the iris and the ciliary body
Can you use it in a sentence? The pickup line “Do I have iridocyclitis? Because it almost hurts to look at you” was a big hit at the ophthalmologist convention.
Meaning: place or occasion of submission, humiliation or penance
Can you use it in a sentence? Brad told Whitney that public middle school might be tartarean, but Catholic middle school was a virtual canossa.
Meaning: cylindrical drawing tool, tapered at the ends and usually made of rolled paper, used by artists to smudge or blend marks made with charcoal, Conté crayon, pencil or other drawing utensils.
Can you use it in a sentence? Angela felt that her kids’ classroom supply lists had grown too demanding when her kindergartner was instructed to bring a box of crayons, colored pencils, and a tortillon.
Meaning: a Jewish religious custom
Can you use it in a sentence? Rose claimed that her inability to use the stove on the Sabbath was a minhag, but her family suspected that she just hated to cook.
Meaning: related to food
Can you use it in a sentence? Like 90% of Wanda’s instagram posts are cibarial and her food always looks gross; should we tell her?
Meaning: a connecting neuron
Can you use it in a sentence? “I’m drawn to you like a zygoneure between neurons” was a less-successful pickup line at the neurologist convention.
Meaning: any of a group of fossil one-celled marine planktonic organisms of uncertain and possibly various taxonomic affinities held to represent the earliest known eukaryotes
Can you use it in a sentence? After learning that his friends did not share his enthusiasm for acritarch research, Ross was one sorry polontologist.
Meaning: garnished with vegetables
Can you use it in a sentence? If you eat pizza with bouquetiere presentation it’s totally healthy.
Meaning: the doctrine or practice of a caudillo
Can you use it in a sentence? Under Brittany’s iron fist, the sorority operated under a system of caudillismo and only pre-approved Vera Bradley designs were permitted.
Meaning: a Fijian outrigger canoe
Can you use it in a sentence? In the Fijian version of Dawson’s Creek, Dawson drifted to Joey’s house on a thamakau to whine at her like a stupid baby.
Meaning: a method of cipher writing used especially by the Spartans in which a narrow strip of parchment was wound on a rod and the message written across the adjoining edges
Can you use it in a sentence: Diane spent English class perfecting her scytale and Ella was all “damn, Diane, can’t you just pass notes like a normal person?”
Meaning: a percentage or proportional share especially of profits or earnings
Can you use it in a sentence? Fergie argued that she should receive a tantieme of the Scripps Bee profits because she “put spelling on the map” and it is “kind of her thing.”
Meaning: of our relating to the swifts
Can you use it in a sentence: Some of the nerdier Taylor Swift fans wanted the group to be called “the cyspeslines” but honestly, that was ridiculous.
Meaning: a primal cause or ultimate cosmic principle
Can you use it in a sentence: After much soul-searching, Earl said that he had discovered the controlling urgrund. Maxine replied “Gesundheit.”
Meaning: a fossil fern
Can you use it in a sentence: After complaining that she hated getting flowers because they always died, Becky received a filicite for her anniversary, but she hated that too because Becky sucks.
Meaning: feeding on ants
Can you use it in a sentence? After the picnic was invaded by ants, Janet discovered that she had inadvertently become myrmotherine.
Meaning: the character of a language
Can you use it in a sentence? The existence of the word “sprachgefuhl” pretty much sums up the German sprachgefuhl.
Meaning: a flat sponge from the Mediterranean sea.
Can you use it in a sentence? Norm only shops at Whole Foods now and I have to wash my dishes with this scuzzy zimocca.
Meaning: limed kernels of corn that is ready to be ground into masa.
Can you use it in a sentence: Doug is a few nixtamal short of a tortilla, if you know what I mean.
Meaning: shaped like a horseshoe
Can you use it in a sentence? Remember how we all bought hippocrepiform necklaces because Carrie Bradshaw wore them? Most of the spelling bee contestants weren’t even alive for that.
Meaning: the subject of proverbs
Can you use it in a sentence? If Claire reblogs one more hand-lettered inspirational quote I’ll think she’s working on a degree in paroemiology.
Meaning: some kind of mineral?
Can you use it in a sentence? No.
Meaning: a North American plant of the wintergreen family, with whorled evergreen leaves
Can you use it in a sentence? After giving their 11 daughters botanical names from Violet to Daisy to Ivy, the Jones family was thrilled to welcome baby Pipsissewa to the clan.
Meaning: patois language of Brussels
Can you use it in a sentence? Brenda told her professor that she was speaking Bruxellois, when really, Brenda was just very bad at French.
Meaning: songbird of Mexico and the southwestern US.
Can you use it in a sentence? Harper Lee’s editors informed her that her working title, “To Kill A Pyrrhuloxia,” required a little tweaking.
Meaning: the art of cutting paper into elaborate designs
Can you use it in a sentence? Do you ever see those DIY websites with all their scherenschnitte and just think “nobody’s got time for that?”
Meaning: a hill or mountain surrounded by glacial eyes
Can you use it in a sentence? Climb every nunatak, ford every stream.