What Is Going On With The Words In the Scripps National Spelling Bee?

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I marvel at the kids who compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. I still struggle with words like “necessary”, “maintenance”, “separate”, and “definitely.” Let the one among you who does not be cast the first stone in the comments. How could we not be in awe of a kid who can spell “nyctinasty“? The kids in the Bee are given a nearly impossible task: the judges burp out a word that sounds like “purguffle” but is spelled “pbeirkeufle” and then a seventh grader calls out their adult nonsense, spelling the word before quietly sitting back down. You can’t help but to be proud of these kids for beating the librarians behind the desk.


This year, 12 year-old Ananya Vinay took home the cup spelling a list of gibberish words with unflappable precision.

But let’s talk about the words she had to spell to take the cup. Most of these words look like a toddler slapped a keyboard.

I have never heard these words, so I can only guess at their definitions.

  1. zeaxanthin- a sleep medicine for overactive chinchillas.
  2. cecidomyia- a mental block that causes a person to forget why they just walked into a room.
  3. tchefuncte- a person without a sense of humor, typically German, who frequently says things like, “Why do you call me tchefuncte? I don’t see the humor in this.”
  4. wayzgoose- an app that tells you how long it would take you to fly to your destination if you were a goose.
  5. gifblaar- the snorting laugh made after someone texts you a spot-on GIF.
  6. hypapante- A style of 90’s music made by men who dance in weird pants.
  7. marocain- a pastry that is like a mix between a macaron and a macaroon but not exactly. People say they like them, but they taste like communion wafers and cost $12.

Seriously, what is going on!?

If you invent a word, spell it like it sounds! Or maybe think about if you need to invent that word at all.