Stichomythia and Feuilleton are the Winning Scripps Spelling Bee Words, But What Do They Mean?

History was made tonight in the 2014 Scripps Spelling Bee by co-champions Ansun Sujoe and Sriram Hathwar. The two winning words were stichomythia, which Ansun nailed, and feuilleton, which Sriram got right after trying to pronounce it a couple times and then yelling, "Whatever!" Whatever, Sriram. You just won the bee. You and Ansun both did. As one of the ESPN commentators put it, this bee got "down to the nitty-gritty." And America is better for it.

Really everybody was a winner at tonight's bee, because the finalists were all great sports who were way too much fun to watch. Tejas, I'm still rooting for you, buddy. You too, Alia. And you, Jacob. Obviously.

Ansun and Sriram both spelled so many words correctly that in the end, there weren't enough words left for them to compete over. When he handed over the trophy, the president and CEO of Scripps, Richard Boehne, cracked a joke about the co-champions, because spelling bees are all about joking around.

Guys, I would ask you to spell for it, but we already tried that.

There were so many good moments! Like when Dr. Jacques Bailly gave a sample sentence made up of Kelis' Milkshake lyrics! Or that time Ansun spelled paixtle right! And when his little sister cheered her way into all our hearts. Not to mention that nerdtastic gesundheit joke Sriram dropped in the final round, like he was just up there to tell some jokes at a comedy club. I'm not gonna lie. At times, I got pretty into it.

Both young men were good sports about the dual win. (Yes, each will ultimately get his own trophy, along with $30,000.) Sriram said it was "a dream come true."

The competition is against the dictionary, not against each other.

Awww. Sportsmanship! Academic competition! But down to brass tacks: What on earth do stichomythia and feuilleton mean, exactly? Here's the lowdown:


Stichomythia, a noun, is a modern Latin word derived from Greek that relates to theater. Here's the definition:

dialogue in which two characters speak alternate lines of verse, used as a stylistic device in ancient Greek drama.

Despite its complexity, stichomythia's actually a fairly recent word. It's from the mid-19th century.


This is the word that prompted co-champ Sriram to yell "Whatever!" into the mic before he dropped an f and an e and a u and an i and two ls and another e and a t and an o and an n for the win. I don't think I'm alone when I say that feuilleton has a place in all our hearts now. Here's the low-down on this French-ass noun.

a part of a newspaper or magazine devoted to fiction, criticism, or light literature.

It, too, is from the mid-19th century. That's some straight-up word kinship right now. And speaking of kinship, let's just think for a sec about these two guys, Ansun and Sriram, forever bonded in the annals of Scripps Spelling Bee history.