The Scripps National Spelling Bee, America’s foremost test of children’s spelling abilities, has crowned 14-year-old Karthik Nemmani of Texas as champion for correctly spelling the winning word—koinonia.
Dictionaries define the word as a noun meaning “intimate spiritual communion and participative sharing in a common religious commitment and spiritual community.”
Yes, obscure competition words stretch the limits of almost all adults. Yet sometimes just a silent letter or surprising vowel digraph can be enough to make a simple sounding word challenging. Take for example 2013’s deceptively difficult winning word: “knaidel,” the Yiddish word for a matzo ball.
This year there were 516 registered spellers from US states and territories, the Bahamas, Canada, Ghana, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom.
You can read through the bee’s winning words dating back to 1925 at its website. Here are the winners from the past two decades, and the word they had to spell to take home the trophy: