Ahead of this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee, Business Insider published this list of the twelve most difficult winning words in the history of the contest. No doubt, the selections have become somewhat arbitrary: that is, I am certain that there are some equally obscure and difficult alternatives available from other years.
2011: cymotrichous (adj.) — having wavy hair.
2009: Laodician (adj.) — lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics.
2004: autochthonous (adj.) — formed or originating in the place where found, native.
2002: prospicience (noun) — the act of looking forward, foresight.
1999: logorrhea (adj.) — excessive and often incoherent talkativeness or wordiness.
1997: euonym (noun) — a name well suited to the person, place, or thing named.
1996: vivisepulture (noun) — the act or practice of burying alive.
1986: odontalgia (noun) — toothache.
1980: elucubrate (verb) — to solve, write or compose by working studiously at night.
1961: smaragdine (adj.) — Of or relating to emeralds, having the color of emeralds.
1960: eudaemonic (adj.) — producing happiness, based on the idea of happiness as the proper end of conduct.
I am willing to admit that of these twelve words, I recognized only two—Laodician and logorrhea—though I doubt that I have ever used either in a sentence that I have written.
The article notes, however, that the competition has become much more challenging over the last 75 years: “The winning words weren’t always this arcane or difficult to spell. In 1932, for example, the winning word was knack. The word interning won in 1936, and therapy took the prize four years later.”
But, of course, that was well before the competition was televised as a sporting event.
The complete article is available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/hardest-words-in-the-scripps-national-spelling-bee-2015-5