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Scripps Spelling Bee Words List 2022

More than 200 competitors this year have been eliminated from the 2022 spelling bee.

Here’s a sampling of the words that have given some of those spellers trouble, with definitions courtesy Merriam-Webster and sentences from the New York Times archive, where possible. (Example sentences that do not end with a publication date are inventions.)

  • tektite: a glassy body of probably meteoritic origin and of rounded but indefinite shape. “Most geologists have long thought the tektites were terrestrial material thrown into the sky when a comet or asteroid struck earth and streamlined by their flight through the atmosphere while still molten.” — Nov. 28, 1989

  • wirrah: an Australian spotted food fish. “If you’re heading down near the reefs you might catch wirrah, but folks call it ‘old boot’ because it tastes about that.”

  • sirtaki: a Greek circle dance similar to a hora. “Senator Henry M. Jackson danced the sirtaki at a Greek‐American gathering in Newton, Mass., after addressing the crowd.” — Jan. 25, 1976

  • impayable: priceless, invaluable. “The credit card commercials always ended with a sort of punchline where they would list prices and then say something at the end was impayable.”

  • Micawber: someone who is poor but optimistic. “In ‘David Copperfield,’ the poor, prolix and tragicomically positive Wilkins Micawber is uplifted by a humble gin punch.” — Dec. 9, 2016

  • escharotic: producing an eschar (a scab formed especially after a burn). “Under the agonies of the ague, the typhus, or the gout — through the wearisome days and nights of consumption — under the knife or the escharotic, under all assaults of the Imperial Destroyer — we confidingly look to him for recovery or relief.” — Oct. 18, 1860

  • bourgade: a village of scattered dwellings, an unfortified town. “Despite the problems caused by dragons, winter monsters and irresponsible feuding lords, the people of Westeros rebuilt one bourgade after another without much of a plan for defense.”

  • chatoyance: the state of being chatoyant (having a changeable luster or color with an undulating narrow band of white light). “What I am asserting is that Brigid Brophy’s fey mannerisms betray her message and her message sinks her showy technique; what should be all restless chatoyancy becomes a fixed light blinking code.” — July, 16, 1978

  • bebung: a tremolo effect similar to a violin vibrato and produced on a clavichord by sustaining a varying pressure on the key. “Funnily enough, the score repeatedly notates an ornament that simply can’t be achieved on a modern piano: a bebung, which is a form of vibrato.” — Jan. 18, 2022

  • obstropolous: a dialectical variant of obstreperous (being unruly or resistant to control). “Long’s field mouse scolds, ‘Nonsense!’ when Thumbelina objects to spending her life underground with the pompous blind mole. Alderson’s snaps, ‘Now don’t be obstropolous.’” — April 11, 2010

  • noctivagant: going about in the night; night-wandering. “The couple believed their cat was a sleepy, cuddly companion, when in fact she was simply resting at day to dart away in the dark, a noctivagant terror to mice, pigeons and the downstairs neighbor, who locked his windows once the sun slipped out of sight.”