National Spelling Bee Makes Adults Feel Dumb

Kim Conte

spelling beeLate last night, a friend of mine changed his Facebook status to "CYMOTRICHOUS." What in the world? At first I was absolutely convinced that he had been diagnosed with a rare deadly disease and was breaking the news to us all via social media. Because that's just how dumb I am.

Soon after, of course, I realized that cymotrichous was the word Sukanya Roy, 14, spelled correctly to win the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday -- far from being a disease, it means having wavy hair. Duh. But that's the thing to love and hate about the National Spelling Bee each year: As hundreds of 8- to 15-year-old kids parade across the stage each year spelling words we've never even heard of, we adults are reminded of just how dumb we really are.

Let's take a look at some of the other bee words from this year that would stump the average adult:

Buffalo's Nabeel Rahman, 13, exited the second round of the finals for misspelling the word "dockmackie." A whatie? Dockmackie -- a shrub of eastern North America, having clusters of white flowers. Rahman spelled it like this: D-O-C-K-M-A-C-K-Y. So close! But this was after he spelled the word "loure" (a French Baroque dance) correctly, so in my mind, he's still a winner.

It seemed like 12-year-old Laura Newcombe of Toronto could not be beat -- until she was given the word "sorites." The word means "an aggregation of related things," and Newcombe misspelled it guessing that the Greek word started with ps-. I don't even understand what I just typed.

And then there's the word that got two-time Nevada state spelling champion Dakota Jones, 14: "zanga." The word of Spanish-American origin means an irrigation ditch, and Jones spelled it "Z-A-N-G-H-A" before the bell dinged signalling the end to his run. In his defense, he explained afterward that "he slipped by mishearing a 'g' in the word and substituted an 'h' for the Spanish-influenced 'j.'" I, uh, probably would have done the exact same thing. Riiight.

Do you feel dumber after watching the spelling bee?


Image via Mark Wilson/Getty

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