How Well Can You Spell? Like A Spelling Bee Champ?

Up for a challenge? Here's an opportunity to test your spelling prowess! Since May 24, 25, and 26 mark the 89th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee, in which 285 spellers will compete for the title of champion, a spelling quiz seems only fitting. These young lads and lasses are in eighth grade or below, and can spell some amazingly complex words. It's an impressive feat for anyone; not just elementary and middle school-aged kids. So why not give it a try? Can you spell these national spelling bee championship words?

For anyone who is interested in partaking in the real deal, the 89th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee will air on ESPN channels. Although the event has already begun, the schedule is as follows: The preliminaries began on Tuesday, May 24, the preliminary oral tests (round two) began on Wednesday, May 25, with the third round occurring later that day, and the finals will begin on Thursday, May 26.

Ready to start the quiz? The following words are straight from spelling bees of the past 15 years. We'll give you the Merriam-Webster definition of the word (including the part of speech), followed by a sentence where the word fits, and then the answer! Good luck!


1. A fabric made of spun-rayon yarn (noun)

"She wore a ________ garment made of a rayon-based yarn to her rehearsal dinner."

\ˈfī-ˌbran, fī-ˈ\

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Answer: fibranne (winning word of 1990)

2. One of a group of Japanese pilots in World War II who were assigned to crash their planes into their targets (noun)

"These ________ pilots are best known for their suicide missions during World War II."


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Answer: kamikaze (winning word of 1993)

3. Very old or old-fashioned (adjective)

"Her wide-brimmed hat had a very ________ feel to it, like it was from an earlier time in history."

\ˌan-ti-də-ˈlü-vē-ən, -(ˌ)dī-\

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Answer: antediluvian (winning word of 1994)

4. Excessive and often incoherent talkativeness or wordiness (noun)

"The article suffers from the ________ that infects so much academic writing."

\ˌlȯ-gə-ˈrē-ə, ˌlä-\

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Answer: logorrhea (winning word of 1999)

5. 1a: A course of action : maneuver; 1b: A diplomatic or political initiative or maneuver; 2: A petition or protest presented through diplomatic channels (noun)

"As a result of this ________, made simultaneously by ourselves and the British, Anglo-American negotiations with Switzerland were stalemated."

\dā-ˈmärsh, di-ˈ, ˈdā-ˌ\

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Answer: demarche (winning word of 2000)

6. 1: Indigenous, native; 2: Formed or originating in the place where found (adjective)

"A ________ rock was found thousands of years after it had likely formed in this very spot."


Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Answer: autochthonous (winning word of 2004)

7. A small forceps for clamping a blood vessel (noun)

"I'll need a ________ to assist in clamping the blood vessels during the procedure."


Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Answer: serrefine (winning word of 2007)

8. Reward, recompense (noun)

"________ is a rare word in the present, but contemporary writers do use it on occasion for poetic effect."


Alex Wong/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Answer: guerdon (winning word of 2008)

9. Matzo ball (noun)

"________ is the Yiddish word for matzo ball, which is also a broth-based soup often served in diners."

\kəˈnādəl, ˈknā-\

Alex Wong/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Answer: knaidel (winning word of 2013)

10. A part of a European newspaper or magazine devoted to material designed to entertain the general reader; A novel printed in installments; A work of fiction catering to popular taste

"He published a ________ in his earliest days of writing, long before he discovered the direction he ultimately wanted to take as a writer."


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Answer: feuilleton (one of two winning words of 2014)

Difficult, huh? How did you do? Those images were pretty indicative of how I felt reading through the last decade-and-a-half of the terms that won spelling bees! Most people haven't even heard half of these words, but these kids are able to spell them like little champions! To reach that level, it looks like most people have serious some work to do.