Nematodes prove no issue for Dhroov Bharatia, of Texas. “Nematodes are roundworms that are mostly microscopic (although some are upsettingly large) that have adapted to a spectacular range of homes, from Antarctic soil to the inside of your gut,” The Times said in an article from this February.
Another speller knocks out another word meaning: saxicolous. In a 1964 article, The Times wrote, “Saxicolous bromeliads grow on rock or in crevices of rock ledges (‘saxum’ is Latin for rock).”
Kory Stamper, our guest lexicographer, is a big fan of the word meaning round: “It’s fun to be able to show that you don’t just know how to spell ‘photic,’ but that you know that ‘phos’ means ‘light.’ That’s mastery!”
Zaila Avant-garde hears the word “dysphotic” and beams. She knew exactly what that word meant. (It means the opposite of beaming: having feeble illumination.)
Friends and family of Roy Seligman are sitting in the audience holding the flag of the Bahamas. He knocks out batrachian, relating to frogs.
Kory Stamper, our guest lexicographer, said the word meaning round is actually a way of getting back to the roots of the bee. When bees started in the 19th century, they were held in schoolrooms and were part of a broader vocabulary exercise. Ms. Stamper: “It wasn’t this gamified thing that we do now.”
The word meaning round! Here, spellers will have to guess the meaning of the word through multiple choice of three answers. The bee said it strives for a better-informed world, so if spellers know both the spelling and the meaning of these very complicated words, that’s a big part of fulfilling the bee’s mission.
Some words are puzzles and you can figure out what they are through etymology. Others, you just have to know, said Kory Stamper, our guest lexicographer. “There are no tools to study Assyro-Bablyonian roots like there are for Latin, Greek, French roots. There are just some words you have to recognize from the jump.”
Speaking with ESPN anchors, the first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, fans out on the spellers: “These kids have so much courage and I really admire them.”
Only six spellers are left and we’re just about to start the second round. Is the live stage getting to them? “Maybe. It is really intimidating to be on that stage! Especially after a year of virtual competition,” said Kory Stamper.
Chaitra Thummala, the last speller of the first round, didn’t need long at all — or many questions — to correctly spell shedu, meaning “one of various semidivine beings represented by ancient Assyrian sculptors as colossal human-headed bulls or lions.”
“The gaudy brown Brazilian butterfly known as Heliconius numata has long puzzled geneticists,” The Times wrote in 2011.
Akshainie Kamma got the dreaded schwa right but slipped on the ending of the word heliconius, meaning “any butterfly of a large Neotropical genus of long-winged butterflies that are often brilliantly colored or mimetic.” It’s Latin from a Greek geographical name.
She spelled it H-E-L-I-C-O-N-E-U-S.
The next speller up, Akshainie Kamma, has been participating in bees since kindergarten. She has a watch party cheering for her back in Texas.
Vihaan knew he had it wrong the moment he finished. He shook his head just before the bell rang.
“Torticollis,” or “twisted neck,” is a form of dystonia, a term for a group of neurological illnesses that have sustained involuntary muscle spasms leading to abnormal postures,” a Times article said in 1993.
Vihaan Sibal, 12, is our fourth person eliminated. He misspelled torticollis, trying T-O-R-T-A-C-O-L-L-U-S.
It refers to “an abnormal and more-or-less fixed twisting of the neck associated in humans with muscular contracture, especially of a sternocleidomastoid — also called wryneck.”
Dhroov Bharatia, 12, pumps his fist as he gets euxinic. That was a very tricky word, said Kory Stamper, our guest lexicographer. “Its etymology is so rough.”
It’s 12 year old Dhroov Bharatia’s first…