Queens teen tastes victory in national spelling bee

A runner-up in two prior competitions, Arvind Mahankali nails ‘knaidel’—Yiddish for matzo ball—to claim top honors. We have 19 other mind-bending words from the bee.

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That’s right, the Yiddish word for “matzo ball” was the key ingredient in 13-year-old Arvind Mahankali’s victory at the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

It’s likely that the young New Yorker has eaten at least one of these popular dumplings often found in chicken soup served up in city delis.

A four-time Bee competitor and the first boy in five years to win, Mahankali takes home the $30,000 prize, an enormous trophy, and some major bragging rights.

Mahankali, of Bayside, Queens, finished third in both 2011 and 2012, having been tripped up by words of German origin. Not so this year. (Knaidel is a derivation of the German word for dumpling, Knödel.)

This was also his last spelling bee; this summer, he wants to start concentrating on physics.

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