Once more unto the b-r-e-a-c-h

Today I got to once again match my orthographic wits against 30 other people in the Adult Spelling Bee in Long Beach, CA. Here are the first seven words I was given to spell:

  1. extradite
  2. notch
  3. rescind
  4. meticulous
  5. gossamer
  6. tranquil
  7. succinct

At this point, we were almost 1.5 hours in. The organizers did a headcount, found that we had 16 people left, and decided that they needed to take it up a notch to whittle more down. So we jumped into a much harder word list, and people started dropping like flies.

The spellers before me were given “quiescence,” “absinthe,” “chicanery,” “babushka,” and “colcannon.” I would have been okay with any of those (I think).

I was given “locofoco.” My reaction: ?!?!?!! The audience: ?!?!?!

I asked for a definition and got: “a member of a radical group of New York Democrats organized in 1835 in opposition to the regular party organization.” You recognized that, right?

I asked for the language of origin and got “probably Latin.”

So I went ahead and guessed. And got it right (!).

The next round, I was giving “atrabilious.” The definition was something about being inclined to anger (as I recall), although now when I look it up, I get “given to or marked by melancholy.” At any rate, I spelled it as “atribilious” and with that, my 2013 bee ended. Done in by a schwa!

In the end, I tied for 6th place. My track record at this bee has been: 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place, so linear regression predicted 5th. I guess I slightly underperformed. :)

I enjoyed sitting through the rest of the competition, which got very fierce and crazy indeed near the end. Final words included (starred words are ones I would have missed):

  • *chiropteran
  • flivver
  • empyrean
  • *misoneism
  • *callipygian
  • nescience
  • pinyin
  • pyrrhic
  • nonpareil
  • cyrillic
  • hafnium
  • *auscultation
  • lamia
  • demarche
  • *weisenheimer
  • legerdemain
  • *videlicet
  • seriatim
  • *imprimis
  • etesian
  • pneuma
  • flocculate
  • syncretic
  • interrobang
  • primogeniture
  • espiegle
  • mimesis
  • interdict
  • *crwth ?!?!
  • *gregarine
  • gnomic
  • obloquy
  • *argillaceous
  • farrago
  • *dengue
  • *moitie
  • *polysyndeton
  • *kluge
  • denouement
  • maquette
  • panegyric
  • festinate
  • tourbillion

And finally, Jim Sherry from Alabama spelled the winning word, “quincunx.” It was a great victory! And especially since he’d come from so far away, and had been saying before the Bee that Delta lost his luggage, so it had been a rough trip so far. Now he’s the champ! :)

3 of 3 people learned something from this entry.

  1. Myra said,

    March 3, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    (Learned something new!)

    You are first place in my heart!

  2. Wendy G. said,

    March 4, 2013 at 7:35 am

    You would have missed chiropteran? You need to read more sci-fi! ;-)

  3. Matthew said,

    March 4, 2013 at 7:48 am

    (Learned something new!)

    I only know callipygian because I have a big butt.

    I didn’t know crwth is a word. CWM is one of my favorite (hard to use) three-letter scrabble words; I assume they’re both gaelic.

  4. Leigh said,

    March 4, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    (Learned something new!)

    Crwth?! No fair throwing in Gaelic words!
    (I’m going to Wales this summer – will see if they sell those in Cardiff!)

  5. Robert Moy said,

    March 4, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Somewhere I read that Humphrey Bogart liked the word “callipygian.” (Or was it “callipygiate?”) Anyhow, congratulations to Jim Sherry. He sat next to me during the 2012 AARP Spelling Bee in Cheyenne, WY. I finished fourth and Jim finished fifth. I really would like to participate in Justin Rudd’s spelling bee eventually.

  6. Kate K said,

    March 5, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    I was the pronouncer at the bee, and I always learn new stuff when we’re making the lists up. I also meet my peeps. What a marathon it was that day–we’d also done the kids’ bee that afternoon.

    “Crwth” is a loan word from Welsh that describes a musical instrument. It found its way into our language in the late 1700s and is in Merriam-Webster 11th Edition. I love the word–I first got it at the AARP bee the first time I entered. Robert Moy was there a few years later, and he spells like a champ. He’d better make it out to Long Beach, and soon.

    And Kiri, you’re lovely. I hope to see you again.

  7. Jim Sherry said,

    March 16, 2013 at 10:03 am


    Belated congratulations on your excellent showing! (I did not get a chance to congratulate you after the bee.) I have admired you each year that I have been to Long Beach and I am convinced that you will win the championship in the near future! Jim Sherry

  8. What I Learned Today » Blog Archive » Back to the bee said,

    March 9, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    […] and by going out at that point I tied for 6th place with many other spellers (the same place as last year!). Some interesting and challenging words from the remaining rounds (an asterisk means I would have […]

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