Started in 1925, the Scripps National Spelling Bee is now televised nationally and students have gone from studying the dictionary to using highly paid coaches and computers. The competition was canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic but is soon coming back with preliminaries starting mid-June.
The spellers that make up this competition come not only from the 50 states, but also the U.S. territories and other countries, including Canada, Mexico, China, Japan and New Zealand. In 1998, Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica became the bee’s first non-American winner.
Just over half of the winners have been female (51%), and most are in their last year of competing (13 to 14 years old). Most winning words were nine letters in length, while the longest one was scherenschnitte (15 letters), spelled in 2015 by Vanya Shivashankar.
To identify every Spelling Bee winning word over the last 20 years, 24/7 Tempo consulted the Scripps Bee website. Definitions were also taken from the competition’s official site. For pronunciations, we checked online dictionaries such as Merriam-Webster.
You can test your knowledge with some everyday words — these are 50 most common misspelled words in the English language.