Special Report

Every Spelling Bee Winning Word over the Last 20 Years

Source: Alex Wong / Getty Images

2016: Feldenkrais

Definition: “used for a system of aided body movements intended to increase body awareness and ease tension.”

Pronunciation: Fel·​den·​krais

Speller: It’s rare for two siblings to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee, but it’s even rarer for them both to win with ties. Jairam Hathwar, 13, of Painted Post, New York, won just two years after his brother Sriram took the title.

Source: Alex Wong / Getty Images

2017: Marocain

Definition: “a dress fabric that is made with a warp of silk or rayon and a filling of other yarns and is similar to but heavier than canton crepe.”

Pronunciation: mar·​o·​cain

Speller: After three straight years of ties, the Scripps Spelling Bee added a tiebreaker test in 2017. Though the top two spellers went for 21 rounds, they didn’t make it to the allotted 25, and in the end Ananya Vinay, 12, of Fresno, California, was crowned the winner. Last spring, she coached her neighbor to a win in the Fresno County Scripps Spelling Bee, and a spot in the national competition.

Source: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

2018: koinonia

Definition: “intimate spiritual communion and participative sharing in a common religious commitment and spiritual community.”

Pronunciation: koi·​no·​nia

Speller: Karthik Nemmani, 14, the most recent winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, spent hours studying each day to win the competition. The amount of preparation isn’t different from years earlier, but now there are coaches, computers and statistical analysis. His 16-year-old coach sees her time in spelling bees as “a different era.”

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