A look at some unusual, difficult or otherwise noteworthy words from the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
— KNAIDEL — a small mass of leavened dough cooked by boiling or steaming. The winning word for 2013 was from German-derived Yiddish, a source of much amusement to champion Arvind Mahankali, 13, of Bayside Hills, N.Y., who finished third in 2012 and 2011 after misspelling German-derived words. This time, he had little trouble.
— CYANOPHYCEAN — a blue-green alga. Runner-up Pranav Sivakumar, 13, of Tower Lakes, Ill., was bounced by this word, missing it by a single letter. He thought the final "a'' was an "i."
U.S. & World
— LANSCENET — a card game, similar to pharaoh, played in central Europe. Aspiring comedy writer Amber Born, 14, of Marblehead, Mass., seemed confident about this word until she was given an alternate pronunciation and deadpanned, "That is cause for panic." She let out a big sigh and spelled it right.
— KABURI — a land crab common in mangrove swamps from the West Indies to southern Brazil. Chetan Reddy's run in the finals was over as soon as he asked for the language of origin and was told, "unknown." With little helpful information, Chetan, 13, of Plano, Texas, pursed his lips before guessing "c-a-b-u-r-r-i."
— MELOCOTON — a peach grafted on a quince root stalk. Grace Remmer, 14, of St. Augustine, Fla., who spells quickly when she knows a word, asked for the definition twice and the etymology twice. She was off by two letters, and that was the end of her fourth and final National Spelling Bee appearance. "Thank you, everyone," she said, and left the stage to a standing ovation.
— GALERE — a group of people having a marked common quality or relationship. Derived from French and old Catalan, this word nearly bounced champion Arvind Mahankali from the finals. He asked for the etymology twice, shifted his body back and forth and stroked his chin. He started with "g-a," and then asked to start again, getting it right with seconds to spare.
— DORYLINE — a type of migratory tropical ant that is blind except for the functional males. In the finals, Christal Schermeister, 13, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., stood silently for a long time, trying to figure it out. "Can I have the definition again, please?" she asked, her voice cracking a bit. She went with "d-o-r-a-l-i-n-e" and was eliminated.
— SMELLFUNGUS — a critic or faultfinder, taken from a novel by 18th-century absurdist Laurence Sterne. Gokul Venkatachalam, 12, of Chesterfield, Mo., spelled it correctly.
— MALACOPHILOUS — adapted to pollination by snails. "I don't know if that's possible," Amber Born said. After spelling the word correctly, she leapt for joy and dashed back to her seat.
— CYANOPE — a person with fair hair and brown eyes. Caleb Miller, 13, of Calhoun, La., asked if it came from the Greek word "ops," meaning eye. Told yes, he responded, "Thank goodness." He still misspelled the word, going with p-s-i-a-n-o-p-e. Told the correct spelling, he said, "Oh, you've gotta be kidding me."
— BILBOQUET — a device having a cup or spike at the top of a stick to which is attached a ball on a string. This word looked like it might trip up 11-year-old Vanya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kan., the sister of the 2009 champion and one of the favorites. She paused while pretending to write the word on her hand, a common technique among spellers. But she got it right and advanced to the finals.
— CABOTINAGE — behavior befitting a second-rate actor. There was no acting from Eva Kitlen, 14, of Niwot, Colo., who struggled with this word, breathing quickly into the microphone, before getting it wrong. "Can I maybe get a different word?" she asked. "I hope you get a different word," pronouncer Jacques Bailly responded. She did not.
— TENERAMENTE — a musical direction meaning "tenderly." Grace Remmer, who plays violin, chuckled with relief after being asked to spell this word, which helped propel her to the finals. She still asked Bailly to use it in a sentence, which turned out to be a gem: "The piano teacher repeatedly encouraged the Incredible Hulk to try to play the lullaby teneramente."
— OLEACRANON — the clinical term for the funny bone. Emily Keaton, 14, of Pikeville, Ky., missed this word by adding an "h'' after the "c." She jumped back with surprise at the sound of the bell that ended her spelling bee career. Emily was a five-time National Spelling Bee contestant.