Skip to navigationSkip to content
WORD SEARCH

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

Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
The sweet spell of success.
By Johnny Simon
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

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

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

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

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

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

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

2013: Arvind Mahankali – knaidel

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

2012: Snigdha Nandipati – guetapens

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

2011: Sukanya Roy – cymotrichous

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

2010: Anamika Veeramani – stromuhr

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

2009: Kavya Shivashankar – Laodicean

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

2008: Sameer Mishra – guerdon

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

2007: Evan M. O’Dorney – serrefine

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

2006: Kerry Close – Ursprache

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

2005: Anurag Kashyap – appoggiatura

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

2004: David Tidmarsh – autochthonous

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

2003: Sai R. Gunturi – pococurante

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

2002: Pratyush Buddiga – prospicience

Reuters/William Philpott
Pratyush Buddiga of Denver, Colorado

2001: Sean Conley – succedaneum

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

2000: George Abraham Thampy – demarche

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

1999: Nupur Lala – logorrhea

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

1998: Jody-Anne Maxwell – chiaroscurist

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

1997: Rebecca Sealfon – euonym

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

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.