Can You Use That In A Sentence? Wacky Words Of The 2015 Scripps Spelling Bee

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.

bouillabaisse

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.

cerastes

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.

hacek

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.

cytopoiesis

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.

 crannog

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.

 bacchius

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.

cocozelle

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.

samadhi

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.

Albumblatt

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.

billiken

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.

Hippocrene

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]

backfisch

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.

poikilitic

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.

gnathostome

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.”

población

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.

commissurotomy

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.

réclame

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?

Tartarean

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.

oflag

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.

Bayadere

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.

iridocyclitis

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.

Canossa

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.

tortillon

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.

minhag

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.

cibarial

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?

zygoneure

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.

acritarch

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.

bouquetière

Meaning: garnished with vegetables

Can you use it in a sentence? If you eat pizza with bouquetiere presentation it’s totally healthy.

caudillismo

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.

thamakau

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.

scytale

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?”

tantième

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.”

cypseline

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.

urgrund

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.”

filicite

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.

myrmotherine

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.

sprachgefühl

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.

zimocca

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.

nixtamal

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.

hippocrepiform

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.

paroemiology

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.

scacchite

Meaning: some kind of mineral?

Can you use it in a sentence? No.

pipsissewa

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.

Bruxellois

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.

pyrrhuloxia

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.

scherenschnitte

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?”

nunatak

Meaning: a hill or mountain surrounded by glacial eyes

Can you use it in a sentence? Climb every nunatak, ford every stream.

 

Spelling Superlatives: Everyone’s A Winner At The 2014 Scripps Bee

I fell down the televised Bee rabbit hole when I was in eighth grade, home with strep throat on the day of the finals. A few (ahem) years later, I was once again home, this time from work, and this this time with an improbably horrible ear infection (current feeling: that part of Godspell when Jesus caterwauls “Oh Go-ohhhd, I’m dy-y-ing!”) The Bee is the best sick day viewing ever: repetitive, soothing, and lengthy, which is great for when you’re so ill that you’re too apathetic to change the channel. Not to mention, there’s nothing more calming than the gentle monotone of Jacques Bailly, except perhaps for Jacques Bailly conversing with Terry Gross.

However, you don’t have to have an infectious disease to appreciate the Scripps National Spelling Bee. It seems like every year more and more people watch it, so I’m sure we have plenty of readers who appreciated these Spelling Bee Superlatives as much as I did. With these categories, almost everyone’s a winner!

Actual Winners: Sriram Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe

[But, REAL Actual Winners: All Of Us]

Every year when I watch the Bee, I wish there was a way for everyone to win. There isn’t. But TWO kids winning is pretty great, right? Watching the word list dwindle, I hoped against hope they’d both keep answering correctly. Maybe I’m wrong – I’ve never been a 14-year-old boy, after all – but for the kids, it seems like it would actually be more fun to win with somebody than by yourself.

And no, they do not have to split the $30K grand prize.

Best Dressed: Brayden Kelley

I mean. He was wearing a bespoke camo suit-jacket with rockabilly-styled lapels. Is it really even a question?

Best Vest: Ansun Sujoe

I’d say that any competition in which you stand to win $30,000 merits your first-string wardrobe. I think Ansun would say so, too.

Best Name: Caribbean Sea’Era Adams

Caribbean is a word I’ve never run across as a name before, so I’m going to guess this contestant got her love of words from her parents.

Farthest Traveled: Michaela Shari Bostrom; Tokyo, Japan

Michaela didn’t make the finals, so you may have missed this story: she has lived in Japan her whole life, which means that she is probably a better speller than you in at least two languages.

Best Accent: Tajaun Gibbison

Tajaun, a polite eighth grader making his first appearance at the Bee, hails from Jamaica.

Best Sample Sentence

This year, the Scripps folks made a concerted effort to incorporate some more humorous sentences. E.g.: “Pampootie is as uncomfortable to say in public as it is to wear in public.” But the funniest of all was probably the sentence Dr. Jacques Bailly didn’t get to finish. While reading feijoada, which is some kind of Brazilian bean dish,  Bailly began reading “Tabitha discovered that her milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,” and was summarily cut off. I am dying to know how that was possibly all going to come together.

Most Enthusiastic Speller: Jacob Williamson.

This kid squealed with glee when he got words right, and ran to the stage with the force of 10 Price Is Right contestants when he was announced as a finalist. It was fun to see a kid act like this was the most exciting moment of his life, because face it, it probably was. If you watched the Bee, you know that you really can’t categorize the spellers as one particular kind of kid. But if Central Casting had to come up with an enthusiastic Bee kid, Jacob would be it.

Best (Worst?) Peripeteia: Jacob Williamson, again.

Want to see the elation of victory turned, in a matter of seconds, into the agony of defeat? Yeah, me either – but I saw it anyway, when Jacob Williamson KNEW kabarogoya, until he … didn’t. My theory: he correctly remembered that it was an “easy one” – a word spelled almost phonetically – but, alas, forgot about that whole c/k thing.

Biggest Upset: Vanya Shivashankar

Vanya competed in the 2010, 2012, and 2013 finals. Her big sister, Kavya, was the 2009 champion. [For those of us who don’t think 2009 was that long ago: Kavya is off to college next year.] She appeared in almost every pre-recorded ESPN Bee promotion. The stars seemed to be aligned for Vanya to make the finals tonight – and possibly take home the big set of Merriam Websters- but it wasn’t to be. Blame it on the additional computerized tests.

Happiest Speller: Alia Abiad

She wasn’t over-the-top excited like Jacob, but wasn’t Alia just sunny? Abiad has only been spelling for a few years and advanced to 5th place last night.

Thing The Bee Maybe Needs To Work On: Makeup

Most of the kids looked great, but when they got to the interviews after being dinged out, some of the boys had telltale foundation lines around their necks. What worked under the harsh stage lights didn’t under the gentler interview lighting.

Worst Spoilers: The Scripps Twitter Feed

Am I the only one whose ESPN broadcast was about 25 seconds behind Twitter? Results were announced before the kid had even finished spelling.

Most Unnecessary ESPN Shot: The Bell

When a kid got dinged out, they used this weird camera angle where you were looking up at the bell ringer. It was almost like you WERE the bell. It was weird, and way too dramatic.

Most Composed: Kate Miller

What do you do when you are eliminated from a national competition? Probably give a really calm, collected interview in which you scrupulously avoid ending a sentence with a preposition, right? This is clearly a kid who knew when she was on camera.

Best Nails: Mary Horton

I kept wondering why I wanted to call Mary Horton “Mary Horton Mary Horton” until I realized I was thinking of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Anyway. Cute nails, right?

Saddest Moment: Realizing That Almost Every One Of These Kids Was Born In The New Millenium

There was one 15-year-old, but most eighth graders – the oldest kids eligible to compete – are 13 or 14. A child born in 1999 would have turned 14 before January 1, so most of them would be in 9th grade now. Yikes.