The Scripps National Spelling Bee finals air Thursday night on ESPN, and the winning word could be one you’ve never even heard, let alone know how to spell.
That word was
feuilleton, a section of a European periodical designated for gossip and other topics that would appeal to the general reader (sort of like the New York Times’ style section).
The other winning word, stichomythia, means a dispute delivered by actors in alternating lines, like in classical Greek drama.
The winning words weren’t always this arcane or difficult to spell. In 1932, for example, the winning word was knack. The word interning won in 1936, and therapy took the prize four years later. Since the 1950s, though, the Bee has featured words like cymotrichous that might have educated people scratching their heads.
We looked back at some of the biggest head-scratchers that won the Bee:
cymotrichous (adj.) — having wavy hair
Spelled by Sukanya Roy.
2009: Laodician (adj.) — lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics
Spelled by Kavya Shivashankar.
2004: autochthonous (adj.) — formed or originating in the place where found, native
Spelled by David Tidmarsh.
2002: prospicience (noun) — the act of looking forward, foresight
Spelled by Pratyush Buddiga.
1999: logorrhea (adj.) — excessive and often incoherent talkativeness or wordiness
Spelled by Nupur Lala.
1997: euonym (noun) — a name well suited to the person, place, or thing named
Spelled by Rebecca Sealfon.
vivisepulture (noun) — the act or practice of burying alive
Spelled by Wendy Guey.
odontalgia (noun) — toothache
Spelled by Jon Pennington.
elucubrate (verb) — to solve, write or compose by working studiously at night.
Spelled by Jacques Bailly.
Spelled by Nettie Crawford and Michael Day.
1961: smaragdine (adj.) — Of or relating to emeralds, having the colour of emeralds.
Spelled by John Capehart.
1960: eudaemonic (adj.) — producing happiness, based on the idea of happiness as the proper end of conduct
Spelled by Henry Feldman.
Walter Hickey wrote the original version of this post.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.