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

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

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

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

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

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

Spelling Bee Past Winners Gallery
Ansun Sujoe, 13, of Fort Worth, Texas, left, and Sriram Hathwar, 14, of Painted Post, New York (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

2013: Arvind Mahankali – knaidel

Arvind Mahankali
Arvind Mahankali, 13, of Bayside Hills, New York (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

2012: Snigdha Nandipati – guetapens

Snigdha Nandipati,
Snigdha Nandipati, 14, of San Diego, California (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

2011: Sukanya Roy – cymotrichous

Sukanya Roy
Sukanya Roy, 14, of South Abington Township, Pennsylvania (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

2010: Anamika Veeramani – stromuhr

Anamika Veeramani
Anamika Veeramani, 14, of North Royalton, Ohio (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

2009: Kavya Shivashankar – Laodicean

Spelling Bee
Kavya Shivashankar, 13, of Olathe, Kansas (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

2008: Sameer Mishra – guerdon

Sameer Mishra,
Sameer Mishra, from West Lafayette, Indiana (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

2007: Evan M. O’Dorney – serrefine

National Spelling Bee, Michael O'Dorney, Jennifer O'Dorney, Evan M. O'Dorney
Evan M. O’Dorney, 13, of San Ramon, California (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

2006: Kerry Close – Ursprache

Katharine Close Ken Lowe
Kerry Close of Spring Lake, New Jersey. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)

2005: Anurag Kashyap – appoggiatura

Anurag Kashyap, 13, of Poway, Calif.
Anurag Kashyap, 13, of Poway, California (AP Photo/Linda Spillers)

2004: David Tidmarsh – autochthonous

David Tidmarsh, 14, of South Bend, Indiana (AP Photo/Linda Spillers)

2003: Sai R. Gunturi – pococurante

Sai Gunturi, 13, of Dallas
Sai R.. Gunturi, 13, of Dallas, Texas (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

2002: Pratyush Buddiga – prospicience

Pratyush Buddiga of Denver, Colorado (Reuters/William Philpott)

2001: Sean Conley – succedaneum

Sean Conley, 13, of Anoka, Minn.
Sean Conley, 13, of Anoka, Minnesota (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

2000: George Abraham Thampy – demarche

George Abraham Thampy, 12 of Maryland Heights, Missouri (AP Photo/Hillery Smith Garrison)

1999: Nupur Lala – logorrhea

Nupur Lala
Nupur Lala, 14, from Tampa, Florida (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

1998: Jody-Anne Maxwell – chiaroscurist

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

1997: Rebecca Sealfon – euonym

Rebecca Sealfon, 13, of Brooklyn, New York (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
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