Are You Smarter Than a National Spelling Bee Winner?

2000
Champion: George Abraham Thampy (St. Louis, Missouri)
Word: Demarche (noun)
Definition: 1. a course of action; 2. a diplomatic or political maneuver; 3. A petition or protest presented through diplomatic channels
Language of Origin: French
Sentence: Smash Williams’s demarche against Coach Mac McGill came to a heartwarming conclusion when the coach saved Smash from arrest during a hostile away game in Dunston.

2001
Champion: Sean Conley (Aitkin, Minnesota)
Word: Succedaneum (noun)
Definition: A substitute
Language of Origin: Latin
Sentence: It seemed like no one would be able to replace Jane Lynch when she left Party Down for Glee after Season 1, but Megan Mullally has proven a worthy succedaneum.

2002
Champion: Pratyush Buddiga (Denver, Colorado)
Word: Prospicience (noun)
Definition: The act of looking forward; knowing in advance
Language of Origin: Latin
Sentence: M.I.A should have had the prospicience not to sit down with the New York Times for an interview after publicly feuding with the paper only months prior.

2003
Champion: Sai R. Gunturi (Dallas, Texas)
Word: Pococurante (adjective)
Definition: Caring little; indifferent; nonchalant
Language of Origin: Italian
Sentence: We would have assumed that Larry King would be pococurante about Lady Gaga, but in that interview where they both dressed alike, he acted like a fanboy.

2004
Champion: David Scott Pilarski Tidmarsh (South Bend, Indiana)
Word: Autochthonous (adjective)
Definition: 1. Indigenous, native; 2. formed or originating in the place where found
Language of Origin: Ancient Greek
Sentence: The autochthonous residents of the island finally took over when Ben Linus gassed all of the members of the Dharma Initiative.

2005
Champion: Anurag Kashyap (San Diego, California)
Word: Appoggiatura (noun)
Definition: An embellishing note or tone preceding an essential melodic note or tone and usually written as a note of smaller size
Language of Origin: Italian
Sentence: Your karaoke rendition of Christina Aguilera’s “Bionic” was out of key, not “liberally sprinkled with appoggiaturas.”

2006
Champion: Kerry Close (Asbury Park, NJ)
Word: Ursprache (noun)
Definition: A language that is the recorded or hypothetical ancestor of another language or group of languages
Language of Origin: German
Sentence: Despite what James Cameron says, English is not, in fact, an ursprache of Na’vi.

2007
Champion: Evan M. O’Dorney (Walnut Creek, California)
Word: Serrefine (noun)
Definition: A small forceps for clamping a blood vessel
Language of Origin: French
Sentence: Dr. Yang thought the operation was a great success until she realized that a missing serrefine was still inside of the patient.

2008
Champion: Sameer Mishra (Lafayette, Indiana)
Word: Guerdon (noun)
Definition: A reward, recompense
Language of Origin: Middle English
Sentence:  The guerdon is so small for Wheel of Fortune winners that it’s a wonder anyone even auditions these days.

2009
Champion: Kavya Shivashankar (Olathe, Kansas)
Word: Laodicean (adjective)
Definition: Lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics
Language of Origin: Greek and Hebrew
Sentence: Obama’s presidential campaign had even the most laodicean hipsters knocking on doors and registering voters in 100-degree weather.

Bonus link: Top Ten Spelling Bee Freakouts