Are You Smarter Than a National Spelling Bee Winner?


The World Cup is child’s play. For a real nail-chewer of a competition, your best bet is the 83rd Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee, which kicked off earlier this week in Washington, DC. In honor, Flavorpill brings you each of the winning words from the last 20 years in its complete spelling bee package, including definition, language of origin, and a sentence to help you incorporate each famed entry into your most important conversations.

Which word will join these immortal few in 2010? Tune into the finals, tonight at 8pm on ABC to find out. Meanwhile, we kick off the nineties in fitting fashion: with a synthetic fiber.

1990 Champion: Amy Marie Dimak, (Seattle, WA) Word: Fibranne (noun) Definition: A trademark for a fabric of spun rayon, often woven to resemble linen; yarn Language of Origin: French Sentence: Carrie White’s prom dress was made of fibranne, making it easier to clean after she got covered in pig’s blood.

1991 Champion: Joanne Lagatta (Madison, Wisconsin) Word: Antipyretic (noun) Definition: an agent that reduces fever Language of Origin: Greek Sentence: Bruce Dickinson has a fever, and the only cure is more antipyretic.

1992 Champion: Amanda Goad (Richmond, Virginia) Word: Lyceum (noun) Definition: 1. A hall for public lectures or concerts; 2. An association providing public lectures, concerts and entertainments Language of Origin: Latin from Greek Sentence: Lots of bands played at the Peach Pit After Dark, but we wouldn’t exactly call it a lyceum.

1993 Champion: Geoff Hopper (Arlington, Tennessee) Word: Kamikaze (noun or adjective) Definition: 1. A member of a Japanese air attack corps in World War II assigned to make a suicidal crash on a target; 2. an airplane containing explosives to be flown in a suicide crash on a target; 3. having or showing reckless disregard for safety or personal welfare Language of Origin: Japanese Sentence: Yoshi’s grandfather, a failed kamikaze pilot in WWII, finally fulfilled his destiny by smashing into Larry David with his wheelchair.

1994 Champion: Ned G. Andrews (Knoxville, Tennessee) Word: Antediluvian (adjective) Definition: 1. Of or relating to the period before the flood described on the Bible; 2. Made, evolved, or developed a long time ago Language of Origin: Latin Sentence: Despite its antediluvian appearance, Doc Brown’s Delorean is technologically superior to most modern-day cars.

1995 Champion: Justin Tyler Carroll (Wynne, Arkansas) Word: Xanthosis (noun) Definition: Yellow skin discoloration caused by excess blood carotene, as may follow overeating of carotenoid-rich foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, or oranges Language of Origin: Greek Sentence: Coldplay’s first big hit, “Yellow,” is not about xanthosis, but rumor is that the band was eating a lot of carrots when they wrote it.

1996 Champion: Wendy Guey (West Palm Beach, Florida) Word: Vivisepulture (noun) Definition: The act or instance of burying someone alive Language of Origin: Latin Sentence: The accidental burial of Nikki and Paulo, the most pointless characters ever on LOST, was arguably the greatest incident of vivisepulture in television history.

1997 Champion: Rebecca Sealfon (New York, New York) Word: Euonym (noun) Definition: An apropos name for a person, place, or thing Language of Origin: Greek Sentence: When Charlotte York dated “Mr. Pussy” — a euonym — and tried to make a real relationship out of it, we knew that it was going nowhere.

1998 Champion: Jody-Anne Maxwell (Kingston, Jamaica) Word: Chiaroscurist (noun) Definition: an artist who specializes in chiaroscuro, creating visual representation in terms of drastic contrast of light and shade Language of Origin: Italian Sentence: Martin Scorsese is the chiaroscurist‘s favorite film director thanks to his artful use of light.

1999 Champion: Nupur Lala (Tampa, Florida) Word: Logorrhea (noun) Definition: Excessive and often incoherent talkativeness Language of Origin: New Latin Sentence: Doug Funny suffered an acute case of logorrhea every time he spoke to Patti Mayonnaise.

2000 Champion: George Abraham Thampy (St. Louis, Missouri) Word: Demarche (noun) Definition: 1. a course of action; 2. a diplomatic or political maneuver; 3. A petition or protest presented through diplomatic channels Language of Origin: French Sentence: Smash Williams’s demarche against Coach Mac McGill came to a heartwarming conclusion when the coach saved Smash from arrest during a hostile away game in Dunston.

2001 Champion: Sean Conley (Aitkin, Minnesota) Word: Succedaneum (noun) Definition: A substitute Language of Origin: Latin Sentence: It seemed like no one would be able to replace Jane Lynch when she left Party Down for Glee after Season 1, but Megan Mullally has proven a worthy succedaneum.

2002 Champion: Pratyush Buddiga (Denver, Colorado) Word: Prospicience (noun) Definition: The act of looking forward; knowing in advance Language of Origin: Latin Sentence: M.I.A should have had the prospicience not to sit down with the New York Times for an interview after publicly feuding with the paper only months prior.

2003 Champion: Sai R. Gunturi (Dallas, Texas) Word: Pococurante (adjective) Definition: Caring little; indifferent; nonchalant Language of Origin: Italian Sentence: We would have assumed that Larry King would be pococurante about Lady Gaga, but in that interview where they both dressed alike, he acted like a fanboy.

2004 Champion: David Scott Pilarski Tidmarsh (South Bend, Indiana) Word: Autochthonous (adjective) Definition: 1. Indigenous, native; 2. formed or originating in the place where found Language of Origin: Ancient Greek Sentence: The autochthonous residents of the island finally took over when Ben Linus gassed all of the members of the Dharma Initiative.

2005 Champion: Anurag Kashyap (San Diego, California) Word: Appoggiatura (noun) Definition: An embellishing note or tone preceding an essential melodic note or tone and usually written as a note of smaller size Language of Origin: Italian Sentence: Your karaoke rendition of Christina Aguilera’s “Bionic” was out of key, not “liberally sprinkled with appoggiaturas.”

2006 Champion: Kerry Close (Asbury Park, NJ) Word: Ursprache (noun) Definition: A language that is the recorded or hypothetical ancestor of another language or group of languages Language of Origin: German Sentence: Despite what James Cameron says, English is not, in fact, an ursprache of Na’vi.

2007 Champion: Evan M. O’Dorney (Walnut Creek, California) Word: Serrefine (noun) Definition: A small forceps for clamping a blood vessel Language of Origin: French Sentence: Dr. Yang thought the operation was a great success until she realized that a missing serrefine was still inside of the patient.

2008 Champion: Sameer Mishra (Lafayette, Indiana) Word: Guerdon (noun) Definition: A reward, recompense Language of Origin: Middle English Sentence: The guerdon is so small for Wheel of Fortune winners that it’s a wonder anyone even auditions these days.

2009 Champion: Kavya Shivashankar (Olathe, Kansas) Word: Laodicean (adjective) Definition: Lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics Language of Origin: Greek and Hebrew Sentence: Obama’s presidential campaign had even the most laodicean hipsters knocking on doors and registering voters in 100-degree weather.

Bonus link: Top Ten Spelling Bee Freakouts