Here's How You Can Get Dumped From The Scripps National Spelling Bee Without Getting Any Words Wrong

  • Rick Chandler

Tonight are the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee: and our man Jacob Williamson of Bonita Springs, Florida, is still in the hintb hunt. His Round 6 word? “Harlequinade”.


Harlequinade: A plotless comedy : farce.

Sounds about right. The folks over at For The Win have pointed out that in the past two National Spelling Bees, it’s possible to get booted out of the competition even though you haven’t misspelled a word. Apparently, due to time constraints and, I don’t know, not enough folding chairs, officials started throwing kids out of the lifeboat as early as Round 3.

That’s because they took a vocabulary test before the competition, and the ones with the lower marks were earmarked for early dismissal if needed. Even though they didn’t botch a word.

This is spelled out (ha) in the “Semifinals Format” section of the official Bee rules, under “elimination”.

But what makes matters even worse is that in the later rounds, you can stay in even though you misspell a word. Also from the official rules:

All remaining spellers are eliminated unless, in the course of applying the maximum of 12 standard, it appears that fewer than nine spellers will qualify for the Championship Finals. In this circumstance, spellers at the next consecutive scoring level (or levels) may be named as Championship Finalists.

Yep. You can be unbeaten, and get kicked out. Misspell mysoginist, as I just did, and move on to the Finals.

What a %$#@&! competition. I quit. (Throws down homemade Spelling Bee placard.).