Buzzy the Visual Thesaurus Spelling 'Bee'
Visual Thesaurus

Spelling Bee

Welcome to the Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee!

Tournament Spelling Bee:

In the Tournament Spelling Bee, you'll be challenged by a series of words, with the spelling difficulty adapted to your skill level. The more words you get right, the higher your score will go, on a scale from 200 to 800. You can compete against other spellers, since we keep track of high scores (with streaks of correct answers serving as tiebreakers).

NameScoreLongest Streak
1. Rose10101 800 80
2. Joy R. (Sydney Australia) 630 4
3. Uditi S. 350 2
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Community Spelling Bees:

Besides the Tournament Spelling Bee, you can also try a Community Spelling Bee generated from one of our subscribers' word lists. Community Spelling Bees test your knowledge of a limited group of words and give you a score based on the percentage of words you spell correctly. Click one of the featured spelling bees listed to the right and give it a try!

If you are a Visual Thesaurus subscriber, you can create a custom word list and save it as an interactive Community Spelling Bee for others to play.

How to Play:

Here's how it works:

  • Each turn, we'll play you a recording of a word (and show you the definition). You try to guess the spelling.
  • Only your first guess counts towards your score. After that, you can keep trying to spell a word correctly without penalty.
  • After your second guess, we'll start to give you hints.
  • After three incorrect guesses, you can press the "I Surrender" button to reveal the correct spelling.
  • In the Tournament Spelling Bee, the more words you get right, the harder the words get (and the more you get wrong, the easier they get). In a Community Spelling Bee, words are presented in random order.
  • In the Tournament Spelling Bee, scores are on a scale of 200 to 800. Your score (and rank) will update after every five words you complete. In a Community Spelling Bee, your score is based on the percentage of words you spell correctly.
  • No cheating (please)!

Wear your headphones!

Hearing the subtleties in the pronunciations can really help improve your score, so we recommend that you wear headphones while playing.

Can playing the spelling bee improve my vocabulary?

Yes! Not only is the Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee a fun and addictive challenge, it's also a great way to expand your knowledge of English vocabulary. While you're playing the game, you're learning new words by hearing the pronunciations and seeing the definitions and word maps. And since the game adapts to your skill level, you're guaranteed to come across challenging vocabulary items regardless of your age or proficiency.

Spelling Bee FAQ:

What are the different ways to play the Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee?

There are two different ways to play.

In the Tournament Spelling Bee, you'll be challenged by a series of words, with the spelling difficulty adapted to your skill level. The more words you get right, the higher your score will go, on a scale from 200 to 800. You can compete against other spellers, since we keep track of high scores (with streaks of correct answers serving as tiebreakers).

You can also try a Community Spelling Bee generated from one of our subscribers' word lists. Community Spelling Bees test your knowledge of a limited group of words and give you a score based on the percentage of words you spell correctly.

How does the Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee work?

Each turn, you'll hear the recording of the word and see its definition (with words suitably omitted that might give away the correct spelling). You try to guess the spelling.

In the Tournament Spelling Bee, the more words you get right, the higher your score will go. The game adapts to your skill level, so if you continue to answer correctly, you'll get harder and harder words to spell. And getting words wrong means you'll get progressively easier words.

If you play a Community Spelling Bee, the words from the selected word list are presented in random order. Your score is based on the percentage of words you spell correctly.

What happens if I misspell a word?

If you spell a word incorrectly, you can keep guessing for as long as you like. After three incorrect guesses, you can choose "I surrender!" to reveal the word. Continuing to guess at a word won't count towards your score. Try to learn the correct spelling of these words, though, because you can expect to see them pop up again later in the game.

What is the appropriate age level or grade level to play the Spelling Bee?

Because the Tournament Spelling Bee is adaptive, it's appropriate for all skill levels. No matter what your spelling ability, everyone can reach a challenging level, where you're getting about half the words right and half the words wrong.

Community Spelling Bees can be tailored to any skill level, from basic to advanced, since the choice of words is up to the creator of the word list.

How does the scoring work?

In the Tournament Spelling Bee, your score is calculated on a scale from 200 to 800, much like the SAT and other standardized tests. Your score will update after each round of five words that you complete.

In a Community Spelling Bee, your score is based on the percentage of words spelled correctly, from 0% to 100%. Your score will update after each turn.

How do I see how my score stacks up against other spellers?

When you play the Tournament Spelling Bee, you will see your rank among all spellers at the bottom of the page (under "How do you stack up?"). At the end of each round of five words, your rank will change along with your score. As you play, you'll see your rank go up or down, depending on how well you do.

How do I get on the high score list?

At the bottom of the Tournament Spelling Bee page and on the main page for the Spelling Bee, we keep track of which Visual Thesaurus subscribers are the best spellers. The top ten spellers of the day are ranked, as well as a rolling 30-day Top Ten. Subscribers who make it to the 30-day Top Ten list earn a "bee" badge next to their names. If you're not a subscriber, your score will not be recorded in the Top Ten lists.

How do you break ties on the high score list?

Your longest streak of correct answers is used as a tiebreaker in ranking the top scores.

When does the game end?

In the Tournament Spelling Bee, you can keep playing for as long as you like. The game only ends when you decide you've had enough.

If you play a Community Spelling Bee, the game will end when you have spelled all words on the list correctly. You'll have a chance to revisit misspelled words before the game ends to make sure you can spell them correctly.

How do I make my own Community Spelling Bee to share with others?

Subscribers to the Visual Thesaurus have the ability to design a custom word list and save it as an interactive Community Spelling Bee for others to play. Simply create a word list and save it as a spelling bee. As with regular Visual Thesaurus word lists, you can share Community Spelling Bees and add ones you like to your list of favorites. Each subscriber's profile will list the word lists and spelling bees they've made. We also feature several Community Spelling Bees on the main Spelling Bee page: just click one to start playing.

How do I make a spelling bee from any text, such as a web page or other document?

First use VocabGrabber to grab vocabulary from the text. If you're a Visual Thesaurus subscriber, you can make a word list out of the vocabulary. After you have created the word list, you can save it as a spelling bee.

Where do the pronunciations of the words come from?

The high-quality audio pronunciations were developed especially for the Visual Thesaurus, in a recording project for all 150,000 words in our dictionary. Read more about the voices behind the pronunciations here.

What if I find a problem with a pronunciation or a definition?

Just use the link at the bottom of the play page to let us know of a problem with a particular word, and we'll do our best to make improvements. You can email us with more general suggestions here.

What do I do if I can't hear the pronunciations?

First, make sure you have the most recent Java Plugin by going to the support page here. Then make sure you have your volume turned up. We also recommend using headphones while playing so that you can hear the subtleties in the pronunciations.

How can teachers use the Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee in the classroom?

For the Tournament Spelling Bee, check out our Lesson Plan to find out how teachers can use it to help students improve their spelling. Because the Tournament Spelling Bee is adaptive, the Lesson Plan is appropriate for any grade level.

Teachers can also design a custom word list and save it as an interactive Community Spelling Bee for students to play. Simply create a word list and save it as a Spelling Bee. Then you can share the URL with your students, who can test how well they can spell the words on your list.

What are people saying about the Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee?

  • "Well, I have just spent more time than I could spare at the new Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee site... For a spelling geek, the VT bee improves on the social version in a couple of satisfying ways. It gives you several tries, only giving the answer when you click the surrender button. And unlike a traditional spelling bee, it shuffles your misspelled words back into the list so you can try, try again." (Jan Freeman, The Boston Globe)
  • "It's incredibly engrossing." (Grant Barrett, A Way With Words)
  • "Want to practice your spelling online? Try the Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee!" (Jennifer Dziura, Williamsburg Spelling Bee)
  • "I was happy to find a new and very entertaining spelling game. I recommend it." (Kate Haviland, Dover Town Library Spelling Bee)
  • "Think you're a good speller? Give the Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee a go! ... Fun!" (Information Nation)
  • "I hope you enjoy this game and learn some new words." (Nik Peachey, Daily English Activities)
  • "It really is a lot of fun -- I can see myself spending hours, just spelling..." (The Clever Cat)
  • "It's a gloomy Sunday afternoon ... perfect for killing some time playing around on the Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee." (Mighty Red Pen)
  • "I'm usually not much for word games for some reason, but I might have a new addiction: Visual Thesaurus has an on-line spelling bee." (Mr. Verb)

How can I find out more about how the Spelling Bee works?

Our press release on the Spelling Bee has more background, including a description of the data analysis and contact information for media inquiries.