Quiz: Can you define these 13 words?

This year, contestants in the Scripps National Spelling Bee need to define the obscure words they spell. Could you do it? Take our quiz.

Ragan Insider Content

A speller’s qualification for the semifinals and finals will be based on onstage spelling, computer-based spelling questions, and computer-based vocabulary questions. The vocabulary evaluation will count for 50 percent of the speller’s score.

Spelling bee Executive Director Paige Kimble told the Associated Press that “the changes were driven by the desire to reinforce the competition’s purpose—to encourage students to improve their spelling and broaden their knowledge of the language.”

In the spirit of broadening our knowledge of the language, I offer the following list of the winning words from 2000 to 2012 national spelling bees. See if you can come up with the correct definitions.

1. Demarche (winning word from 2000)

a) a petty, unimportant thing
b) a political step or initiative
c) a formal agreement, covenant
d) a boundary


2. Succedaneum
(winning word from 2001)

a) in ancient Rome, a cloth for wiping sweat from the face
b) a shallow grove
c) a dark-red gum obtained from certain tropical plants
d) a substitute, especially for a medicine or drug

3. Prospicience (winning word from 2002)

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.