Special Report

Every Spelling Bee Winning Word over the Last 20 Years

Source: Alex Wong / Getty Images

2014: Feuilleton

Definition: “a part of a European newspaper or magazine devoted to material designed to entertain the general reader: a feature section.”

Pronunciation: feuil·​le·​ton

Speller: The 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee ended in the first tie since 1962. It was just the fourth time in the bee’s history, yet ties would follow for two more consecutive years, leading to rule changes so ties are not as likely. Ansun Sujoe, 13, from Fort Worth, Texas, and his co-speller also continued the bee’s streak of Indian-American winners, for the seventh time in a row.

Source: Alex Wong / Getty Images

2014: Stichomythia

Pronunciation: sticho·​myth·​ia

Definition: “dialogue especially of altercation or dispute delivered in alternating lines (as in classical Greek drama).”

Speller: Sriram Hathwar, of Painted Post, New York, first appeared in the Scripps Bee at age 8, making him the youngest speller ever to compete. After five tries, he finally won — but with one of the first ties in decades. His younger brother, Sriram, would win only two years later — and in another tie.

Source: Alex Wong / Getty Images

2015: Nunatak

Definition: “a hill or mountain completely surrounded by glacial ice.”

Pronunciation: nun·​a·​tak

Speller: For the second year in a row, the National Spelling Bee ended in a tie. Gokul Venkatachalam, 14, said of his win, “I’ve dealt with defeat, and I’m finally happy to have success.” Venkatachalamn wore a LeBron James jersey underneath his shirt during the final round, and his hero sent him a pair of autographed shoes following the bee.

Source: Alex Wong / Getty Images

2015: scherenschnitte

Definition: “the art of cutting paper into decorative designs.”

Pronunciation: sche·​ren·​schnit·​te

Speller: Following her sister’s 2009 win, Vanya Shivashankar became a spelling champion at 12 years old. Her father, elated at having two daughters win the bee, put on a specially made T-shirt for the moment on live TV that read “The Beefather.”

Source: Alex Wong / Getty Images

2016: Gesellschaft

Definition: “a rationally developed mechanistic type of social relationship characterized by impersonally contracted associations between persons.”

Pronunciation: ge·​sell·​schaft

Speller: Nihar Janga, 11, of Houston, Texas, was one of the more entertaining spelling champs. He liked to throw definitions at the judges, clap at opponents and threw up an X, the signature move one of his inspirations, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, made when he won.

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