The words that America’s spelling champions keep getting wrong

“It was an ‘s’!”
“It was an ‘s’!”
Image: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
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To make it to the limelight of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, American middle-schoolers need to be able to spell some of the English language’s most obscure words. In 2015, the winning word was scherenschnitte, whatever that means.

But a few words regularly trip up great spellers. Since 1996, the three most-misspelled words at the spelling bee have been “metastasize,” “metonymy,” and “weimaraner.”

Each of the three words above was spelled incorrectly four times in the past 20 years or so, according to Quartz’s analysis of records collected by data scientist Christopher Long (whose website URL is Most of the misspellings are pretty close, just off by one letter, like “matastasize” and “metastesize.” That’s not the case for “weimaraner,” a dog breed named after the German city of Weimar, which spellers have tried to spell as “vimeroner” and “whymeraner.”

Here are all 383* of the words that Scripps Spelling Bee spellers got wrong two or more times, including the incorrect spellings they attempted. See if you can do any better.

*One caveat: The bee’s official results data for 2010 contains errors, and has been removed from this analysis.)