Introducing... The VT Spelling Bee!

We're very pleased to announce a brand-new feature: the Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee! Taking advantage of our high-quality audio pronunciations, we've created a quiz that will sharpen your spelling skills and expand your vocabulary. And as everyone here in the office can attest, the quiz is downright addictive.

Each round, you'll hear the recording of the word and see its definition (with words suitably omitted that might give away the correct spelling). The more words you get right, the higher your score will go, on a scale from 200 to 800. What's more, the quiz adapts to your skill level, so if you continue to answer correctly, you'll get harder and harder words to spell.

If you get a word wrong, you can keep guessing, but it 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 quiz!

As you can see on the main page for the spelling bee, individual VT subscribers have the opportunity to make it into Top 10 All-Time Spellers as well as the top spellers of the day. We keep track of the longest streaks of correct answers too, and the streaks count as tiebreakers for the top scorers. You'll even get a "bee" badge next to your name if you crack the Top 10. We hope this engenders some friendly competition in the VT community, but please, no wagering (and no cheating)!

If you've got any suggestions for improving the bee, just let us know by leaving a comment below or by clicking here.

Click here to start the bee. Happy spelling!

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Comments from our users:

Thursday June 26th 2008, 11:00 AM
Comment by: Jane B. (Winnipeg Canada)Top 10 Commenter
There is no way under whatever sun is shining somewhere, that I could even understand the pronunciations. I have to try to get the word solely from the definition.

I did get 'epic' as the word, but the pronunciation was so far off (to my ears) that I got only the ic correct.

If you can improve the clarity so that my laptop will get it straight with some help from the pronunciation, I'll try again.

I am too embarrassed to proceed now!
Thursday June 26th 2008, 11:25 AM
Comment by: Ben Zimmer (New York, NY)Visual Thesaurus ContributorVisual Thesaurus Moderator
Hi Jane: If you're having trouble hearing the pronunciations, I highly recommend using headphones. Also, when you're in the quiz there's a link at the bottom of the page that you can click on to report a problem with a particular pronunciation. That way we can continue to improve the quality of the audio recordings provided.
Thursday June 26th 2008, 6:32 PM
Comment by: Elizabeth H.
How long is the spelling bee? I did 100 words but there didn't seem to be an end in sight.
Thursday June 26th 2008, 9:30 PM
Comment by: Ben Zimmer (New York, NY)Visual Thesaurus ContributorVisual Thesaurus Moderator
Elizabeth: You can play for as long as you want! We didn't want to limit the fun by giving it an arbitrary stopping point.
Friday June 27th 2008, 6:59 AM
Comment by: DebbieSLP (Keene, NH)
I agree about pronunciations, especially several /s/ sounds that seemed to be pronounced as /sh/ sounds when spoken by a particular female pronouncer, but not others. For example, "russet" sounded like "rushet." Headphones only amplified this problem. Headphones did help some other ambiguous sounds like /f/ vs. voiceless /th/. Overall a fun program! Thanks!
Sunday June 29th 2008, 7:21 AM
Comment by: Kcecelia (San Francisco, CA)
This is an addictive program. Using it I am learning new words as well as relearning words I assumed I knew. It is particularly interesting to notice that the tyranny of spellcheck has made me forget the idiosyncrasies of some common words. For example, in the previous sentence the word "idiosyncrasies" is a little puzzle challenge for my brain, eyes, and fingers, but if I just busily click through a misspelled, or more often mistyped, attempt to correct it, my brain remains unexercised. Thanks for this game, I am enjoying it.
Sunday July 6th 2008, 9:07 AM
Comment by: Wayne P.
Can you, or do you have plans that would allow users to use their own word lists?
Sunday July 6th 2008, 12:37 PM
Comment by: Ben Zimmer (New York, NY)Visual Thesaurus ContributorVisual Thesaurus Moderator
As a matter of fact, a word-list spelling bee is in the works. Stay tuned for further developments!
Thursday August 14th 2008, 9:11 PM
Comment by: Liliane Y.
I would like to know if it is possible to retrieve a S.Bee if it disappears from the screen when one is working on it.

I was down to 14 & do not know why the Bee I was working one went off - it really upset me since I was doing
so well.

Thanks in anticipation.

Liliane Yelle
Thursday August 21st 2008, 8:28 PM
Comment by: jocelyn E. (Tasmania Australia)
I have had the experience, atleast once, each time I participate in S. Bee. I sympathise with Liliane Yelle, especially when going along really well.Ie---cannot retrieve the point where I'd reached...and start all over. One mutters "" ( the stuff one puts in a chook pen, that starts with " sh " and ends in " it " ( Good swear word to shout). Can someone advise Liliane and me ?
Sunday August 24th 2008, 7:36 PM
Comment by: Liz G. (Spokane, WA)
I, too, love the spelling bee and find it very addictive. I agree with the other spellers that, even with headphones on, I find some of the pronunciations are very difficult to understand, i.e. "assonance" comes to my ears as effunance, and vs and bs (vees and bees) sound alike.

But, all in all, I love playing and have learned tons of words I never thought I would like to know! Please include this quiz each month!
Sunday August 31st 2008, 1:58 AM
Comment by: Jana F.
Love it.
Please try to level the game, rather than let it go forever. Say limit the number of words to 50 or 100. If one gets all correct, they can move on to Level 2.
Monday September 1st 2008, 9:29 AM
Comment by: polymath
As much as I enjoy spelling the words in SB, I am taking greater delight in the vocabulary aspect of the game. The word list serves as a catalyst to new words and many familiar words that I don't really know the meaning. Interaction with the word list is a unique exercise for vocabulary development as well as spelling. I now find myself zeroing in on words in print with the its spelling in mind. SB serves me well as another tool in the learning process for a polymath like me.
Sunday September 21st 2008, 9:05 PM
Comment by: anna S. (South Africa)Top 10 Commenter
Like several others who have commented on losing the screen when in the middle of playing the S. Bee .....this too has happened to me twice, and I became VERY frustrated. I would like to know if there is any way to retrieve the S. Bee page you were working on and not have to start all the way over.

The pronunciation for the word wort, was confusing to me. I could not distinguish the simple nuance in the vowel sound.

I would really like to be able to put my own word lists into the program as a support tool for students who are dyslexic.

This is a great idea, a fun game, and I enjoyed playing.

Kathryn H.
Monday September 29th 2008, 12:07 AM
Comment by: Gloria R. (Santa Cruz, Moss Landing, CA)
What a wonderful discovery!
Thursday October 16th 2008, 7:35 PM
Comment by: Judi S. (Spokane, WA)
Hey Ben,

When will that word-list spelling bee be ready? Looking forward to it :)

Judi S.
Sunday November 30th 2008, 7:14 AM
Comment by: Fletcher Bonomo (MA)
I wonder if the "longest streak" tiebreaker should be for the longest streak from the beginning. If you get the first word wrong you are put back in kindergarten, so to speak, and get a bunch of easy words to spell; that's when my longest streaks occur. (I hope I'm spelling correctly in this message!?) It's hard work getting back up to a high score, but if you do you will probably have a long streak going for you. It's like an entirely different game.

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