WORD SEARCH

The champions and winning words from the last 20 years of spelling bees

The sweet spell of success.
The sweet spell of success.
Image: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
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The Scripps National Spelling Bee, America’s foremost authority on children’s spelling abilities, wrapped up tonight, crowning Ananya Vinay for spelling the winning word “marocain.”

While some competition words may stretch the limits of syllables most adults are comfortable memorizing, sometimes a silent letter, surprising vowel digraph or even its general obscurity are enough to make a simple sounding word challenging. Take for example like 2013’s deceptively difficult winning word: “knaidel,” the Yiddish word for matzo ball.

You can read through the bee’s winning words dating back to 1925 at their website. Here are all the winners of the past two decades, and the word they had to spell to take home the championship trophy.

2016: Co-champions Jairam Hathwar and Nihar Janga – Feldenkrais, gesellschaft

Nihar Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas, right and Jairam Hathwar, 13, of Painted Post, New York
Nihar Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas, right and Jairam Hathwar, 13, of Painted Post, New York
Image: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

2015: Co-champions Gokul Venkatachalam and Vanya Shivashankar – nunatak, scherenschnitte

Vanya Shivashankar, left, of Olathe, Kansas., and Gokul Venkatachalam, of St. Louis, Missouri
Vanya Shivashankar, left, of Olathe, Kansas., and Gokul Venkatachalam, of St. Louis, Missouri
Image: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

2014: Co-champions Ansun Sujoe and Sriram Hathwar – feuilleton, stichomythia

Ansun Sujoe, 13, of Fort Worth, Texas, left, and Sriram Hathwar, 14, of Painted Post, New York
Ansun Sujoe, 13, of Fort Worth, Texas, left, and Sriram Hathwar, 14, of Painted Post, New York
Image: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

2013: Arvind Mahankali – knaidel

Arvind Mahankali, 13, of Bayside Hills, New York
Arvind Mahankali, 13, of Bayside Hills, New York
Image: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

2012: Snigdha Nandipati – guetapens

Snigdha Nandipati, 14, of San Diego, California
Snigdha Nandipati, 14, of San Diego, California
Image: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

2011: Sukanya Roy – cymotrichous

Sukanya Roy, 14, of South Abington Township, Pennsylvania
Sukanya Roy, 14, of South Abington Township, Pennsylvania
Image: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

2010: Anamika Veeramani – stromuhr

Anamika Veeramani, 14, of North Royalton, Ohio
Anamika Veeramani, 14, of North Royalton, Ohio
Image: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

2009: Kavya Shivashankar – Laodicean

Kavya Shivashankar, 13, of Olathe, Kansas
Kavya Shivashankar, 13, of Olathe, Kansas
Image: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

2008: Sameer Mishra – guerdon

Sameer Mishra, from West Lafayette, Indiana
Sameer Mishra, from West Lafayette, Indiana
Image: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

2007: Evan M. O’Dorney – serrefine

Evan M. O’Dorney, 13, of San Ramon, California
Evan M. O’Dorney, 13, of San Ramon, California
Image: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

2006: Kerry Close – Ursprache

Kerry Close of Spring Lake, New Jersey.
Kerry Close of Spring Lake, New Jersey.
Image: AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson

2005: Anurag Kashyap – appoggiatura

Anurag Kashyap, 13, of Poway, California
Anurag Kashyap, 13, of Poway, California
Image: AP Photo/Linda Spillers

2004: David Tidmarsh – autochthonous

David Tidmarsh, 14, of South Bend, Indiana
David Tidmarsh, 14, of South Bend, Indiana
Image: AP Photo/Linda Spillers

2003: Sai R. Gunturi – pococurante

Sai R.. Gunturi, 13, of Dallas, Texas
Sai R.. Gunturi, 13, of Dallas, Texas
Image: AP Photo/Ron Edmonds

2002: Pratyush Buddiga – prospicience

Pratyush Buddiga of Denver, Colorado
Pratyush Buddiga of Denver, Colorado
Image: Reuters/William Philpott

2001: Sean Conley – succedaneum

Sean Conley, 13, of Anoka, Minnesota
Sean Conley, 13, of Anoka, Minnesota
Image: AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt

2000: George Abraham Thampy – demarche

George Abraham Thampy, 12 of Maryland Heights, Missouri
George Abraham Thampy, 12 of Maryland Heights, Missouri
Image: AP Photo/Hillery Smith Garrison

1999: Nupur Lala – logorrhea

Nupur Lala, 14, from Tampa, Florida
Nupur Lala, 14, from Tampa, Florida
Image: AP Photo/Ron Edmonds

1998: Jody-Anne Maxwell – chiaroscurist

Jody-Anne Maxwell, 12, of Ardenne High School in Kingston, Jamaica.
Jody-Anne Maxwell, 12, of Ardenne High School in Kingston, Jamaica.
Image: AP Photo/Ron Edmonds

1997: Rebecca Sealfon – euonym

Rebecca Sealfon, 13, of Brooklyn, New York
Rebecca Sealfon, 13, of Brooklyn, New York
Image: AP Photo/Ron Edmonds