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11 tricky words from the National Spelling Bee
No, we didn't know what they meant either
 
Arvind Mahankali won the Scripps National Spelling Bee with a word that basically means matzo ball.
Arvind Mahankali won the Scripps National Spelling Bee with a word that basically means matzo ball. AP Photo/Cliff Owen

Arvind Mahankali, 13, stepped up to the microphone Thursday night at the Scripps National Spelling Bee and won by spelling this word: Knaidel.

In case you aren't up on your German-derived Yiddish, a knaidel is a type of dumpling eaten in soup — otherwise known as a matzo ball. Here's a look at some of the other tricky words tackled by America's top young spellers.

Smellfungus
An ill-tempered person who finds fault in everything, taken from Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy.
Spelled correctly by Gokul Venkatachalam, 12.

Panjandrum
An important or self-important person, coined by the dramatist Samuel Foote.
Spelled correctly by Syamantak Payra, 12.

Cabotinage
Behavior befitting a second-rate actor, otherwise known as hamming it up for the audience.
Misspelled by Eva Kitlen, 14, as "cabotonnage."

Misocainea
An abnormal hatred of new ideas.
Spelled correctly by Amber Born, 14.

Shillibeer
A horse-drawn hearse with seats for mourners.
Spelled correctly by Vanya Shivashankar, 11.

Stultiloquence
Senseless babble; foolish or stupid talk.
Spelled correctly by Vismaya Kharkar, 14.

Sarrusophone
A mostly obsolete metal wind instrument played like the bassoon, designed by Pierre-Louis Gautrot in 1856 to be played in French marching bands.
Misspelled by Emma Greenlee, 14, as "serusiphone."

Haupia
Sweet coconut cream custard cubes served at family gatherings and luaus in Hawaii.
Spelled correctly by Pranav Sivakumar, 13.

Sciomancy
Divination by consulting with the shadows of the dead.
Spelled correctly by Vismaya Kharkar, 14.

Psephologist
One who practices psephology, the study of elections. The root, psephos, means pebble, from when people voted by casting pebbles in Ancient Greece.
Spelled correctly by Christal Schermeister, 13.

 
Keith Wagstaff is a staff writer at TheWeek.com covering politics and current events. He has previously written for such publications as TIME, Details, VICE, and the Village Voice.

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