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Scripps National Spelling Bee Adds Vocabulary Questions

The Scripps National Spelling Bee announced Tuesday the addition of a vocabulary component to the Bee, which will take place this year on May 28-30.

We here at the Visual Thesaurus are longtime Bee boosters, having covered, live-tweeted, and even followed the story of Bee competitor Nicholas Rushlow, who used the Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee as part of his study strategy. Now, we are pleased  that Scripps is acknowledging the importance of vocabulary as well as spelling proficiency in the development of lifelong love of and fluency with language. 

Read news coverage of the addition to the Bee in the Washington Post, LA Times, and CNN. (For a dissenting view, see this Slate piece by Stefan Fatsis.) If you're curious about the kinds of questions Bee contestants will be asked to answer, quiz yourself on these sample questions released to the Associated Press. Then add the words you don't know to your learning on

1. What is the purpose of defibrillation?

a) removing fibrous matter from vegetables

b) removing bodily hair

c) restoring the rhythm of the heart

d) reducing a fever using medication

2. What does it mean to be intestate?

a) be under strenuous circumstances

b) be without a valid will

c) be in the middle of a test in school

d) be in possession of a large amount of money

3. What does it mean to appertain?

a) assume the character or appearance of

b) belong either as something appropriate or as an attribute

c) distress severely so as to cause continued suffering

d) be guilty of

4. Something described as corrigible is:

a) correctable

b) rigid

c) unmanageable

d) filled with air

5. Which of these is an example of onomatopoeia?

a) chrome

b) novella

c) haiku

d) buzz

6. Where would a campestral scene take place?

a) in the country

b) in a city

c) at the beach

d) in a warehouse

7. Something described as punitive is:

a) whiny

b) punishing

c) commonly accepted

d) acting as a shrinking agent

8. When would a prognosis be given?

a) after a disease diagnosis

b) during an operatic performance

c) after a horse race

d) during a guided meditation

9. Something described as volatile is:

a) illegal

b) impressive

c) explosive

d) calming

10. Nomenclature has to do with:

a) religious ceremonies

b) names

c) bones

d) folk superstitions


1. C

2. B

3. B

4. A

5. D

6. A

7. B

8. A

9. C

10. B

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Comments from our users:

Thursday April 11th 2013, 4:34 AM
Comment by: DaffyDoc (Montgomery, AL)
Too easy
Thursday April 11th 2013, 12:40 PM
Comment by: Kristine F.Top 10 Commenter
jphmedisys - "Too easy"? The questions are for kids, not adults. VT, can you tell us what age children would be asked these particular questions?

The Happy Quibbler
Thursday April 11th 2013, 1:36 PM
Comment by: Ben Zimmer (New York, NY)Visual Thesaurus Contributor
Kristine: To be eligible for the Scripps Bee, you have to be in eighth grade or lower.

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