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Obscure Spelling Words

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Why do spelling bees in the United States use so many bizarre, obsolete, ginormous, and Brobdingnagian words? Webster’s New International Dictionary, 3rd Edition, published in 1961, is still the standard for spelling bees, and thus contains some dated language. However, most unabridged dictionaries won’t get rid of words even as they slip out of use. This is part of a complete episode. Recent winners of the Scripps National Spelling Bee included cymotrichous, stromuhr, Laodicean, guerdon, serrefine, and Ursprache. How many do you know? The whole list.

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