Saturday, December 27, 2008


...and a venue.
The Dover Board of Selectmen voted to approve the Bee taking place in the Dover Town House this year, on March 26th (Thursday) at 7 p.m. We are excited to be back in the Town House, with live TV coverage and an improved capacity for the Bee Café and the Bee Tree.
Stay tuned as this blog ramps up, with words, study guides and news of the Bee as it evolves.
If you want to sign up for a team or sponsor a team, leave a post here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Word trends, by Google

While tooling around in Charles Hodgson's Podictionary, I found a link to Google word trends. You can plug in a word and track where it is used, and how frequently.

Try this with the phrase "Spelling Bee":

Maybe we can generate enough publicity for the 2009 Bee to make the charts!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Try this online Bee

Looking for something else entirely, I just stumbled across the Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee. When I first read about it, I thought that we'd have to spell a word based on a picture of it or something, but in fact the "visual" part gives you a diagram of where the word comes from. Words, spelling and etymology--in game format. It really doesn't get much better than that.

Try the VT Spelling Bee for yourself: . I did have some difficulty with some of the pronunciations (the readers change every few words)--spasmolysis sounded like it had a "t" at the end (although the definitions are given, which should have clued me in). I was pleased to see many of the words Dover spellers have conquered in the past, such as diphtheria and pettifoggery, and mostly I was happy to find a new and very entertaining spelling game. I recommend it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

You'd think this word had been coined for the way Barack moved during the debates...

...but no: according to, OBAMBULATE means to walk around. Check out the citation below from


verb tr.: To walk about.
From Latin ob- (towards, against) + ambulare (to walk). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ambhi- (around) that is also the source of ambulance, alley, preamble, and bivouac. The first print citation of the word is from 1614.

This week, is featuring words that could describe the presidential candidates. I'll be back with others that I find interesting.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Here's another fun word activity

Hangmania is an online game of hangman. You have 7 chances to solve each puzzle. Guessing the same letter twice does not count against you, but there is no visual record of what you've guessed as you play. You pick categories: countries, stars, Movies, etc. and play within those confines. Try it at: and see if it doesn't help exercise your brain for the Bee.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

One good thing leads to another

I signed up for the Moot e-mail, and received a confirmation reply with a link to another terrific word site:
Apparently the MooTguy (as he calls himself) set up this Online Dictionary of Language Terminology which gives, as the site proclaims, "concise explanations of the words that English speakers use to talk about the English language". I wandered around for a bit and found words like aphaeresis, paraprosdokian and glossopoeia.

It might be on the site, but I did not see a word meaning "evil giggle". You will just have to check out the website and imagine mine.


One of my favorite sources of Bee words, A.Word.A.Day ( is being sponsored by an etymology game called Moot. This link will give you a series of sample questions from the game: Try it; it's fun! You can also submit your e-mail address to receive periodic Moot questions--I haven't done this yet, but it does look promising.

Monday, September 1, 2008


One of my favorite sources for Bee words, A Word A Day, is presently featuring words that appear to be misspellings. Here's the link to today's word:

You have been warned :-)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Is your vocabulary better than a 7th--grader's?

You have probably realized that I think about Spelling Bee words all year long. I had a really good one the other day--funambulist. I thought this would be a word nobody in my family knew, so naturally I tried to stump them by asking them what they thought it meant--over breakfast, when nobody here is really firing on all pistons.

Wouldn't you know it: my smart-aleck middle son replied, without skipping a beat, "It means tightrope-walker." Apparently funambulist is a word directly borrowed from Latin, where it means just that.

Oh, darn!

It might make the list anyway, even though my vocabulary is evidently NOT better than a 7th-grader's.

Friday, July 11, 2008

While you are enjoying your summer vacation....

I am already collecting words for the 09 Bee. I just subscribed to the RSS feed from A Word A Day ( --one of my absolute favorite Bee word sources, but I grew weary of the daily e-mail. The RSS feed will place the words gently into my computer without loading up my inbox.

Check out today's word, and imagine our fearless MC George Doherty delivering it to a roomful of Dover's most competitive spellers:


Monday, June 2, 2008

Etymology on line--yessss!

Words are easier to spell (and more interesting in general) if we have some idea of their origins. I stumbled onto this interesting website via Charles Hodgson's daily etymology blog (, and found myself yelling "YESSSSS!".

From a layperson's perspective, etymology seems to be part linguistics, part history and anthropology, and part shrewd guesswork. It's a fascinating topic. Check out the site's etymology for "bee":

Although the entries have helpful links to an on-line dictionary, the random sampling of "killer bee" spelling words I entered did not turn up in its database. Nevertheless, it's worth a look. Some words to try: dog, hocus-pocus, window and narwhal. Have fun!

Friday, May 30, 2008

National Spelling Bee tonight @ 8 on Channel 5
In case you are one of those people who can never have enough...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bee Stats

Initial word list: 1200 words
Published list: 843 words (3 removed due to typos)
Words prepared for the Bee (with pronunciations, definitions and sentences): 164 (~19%)
Words used: 94 (~57% of prepared words, and ~11% of published list)


Monday, April 7, 2008

Wrap-up, Part 2

We had an update today that suggests that we broke last year's fundraising record...THANKS TO ALL!!

More on the stars of the show:
BeeCon Hill (Mary Jo Keaney, Nan Leonard, Senator James Timilty): this team got their words (and name) very late in the game, and their team members changed quite a lot...circumstances which did nothing to showcase their very real abilities. I hope they come back: they're a group to watch!

Non-Fiction Book Club (Barbara Roth-Schecter, Chip Spalding, Gerry Wise): this is one SMART team. They read everything! They're three-year supporters of the Bee and we are so grateful for their ongoing enthusiasm.

Spell Sesquipedalian (Julia Madden, Anna Gaissert, Jackie Carroll): last year's defending champs came skidding in from a late-afternoon athletic event, and gave another terrific performance. We hope they will come back next year--another team to watch; anything could happen!

The Warrant Committee (Robyn Hunter, Nate Van Duzer, and Selectman David Heinlein): well, you already know how I feel about these hard-working folks. They got the words at the last minute, and participated to show their support for our fundraising efforts. Kudos and sincere thanks to these good sports, and a Special Mention for Mr. Heinlein's authentic high-school jacket--very cool!

Taylor Estates (Joe Desalvo, Tom Dixon, Nancy Simms): Bee veterans Simms and Dixon combined forces with new player Joe Desalvo (can I call him a New-Bee?) to win Round 3, on the word "moliminous" --a word that means "massive" or "enormous" and which describes the efforts of all the players in Round 3.

First-time winners Dover Mothers' Association (Gina Doyle, Marisa Fisch and Kristen Sampson) made an excellent showing in Round 4. We especially liked their t-shirts, which boasted the nickname "The Spell-Checkers" on the front and the question "Got Kids?" on the back.

We are always happy to see teen participation in the Bee, and were especially happy to have the Library's own Teen Advisory Board spell again this year. Danielle Hall, Nicole Huang and Lauren Springett, active members of the TAB, gave yet another evening to the service of the Library--thanks!

The Town House Honey Bees had a spirited showing in bright blue shirts and brighter smiles. We were pleased to see Bee Veteran Sue Sheridan playing again, with Sue Hall and Julie Brantley. Their coach was all smiles in the audience, as well. In addition to spelling practice, I think they learned the definition and origin of every word on the list. They probably do crossword puzzles in pen now.

The Spellunkers (Tod Dimmick, Pamela Mok and Wendy Parker) continued to dazzle us with their blinking hats and their spelling skills. They won Round 4 on the word "mogigraphia", which means writer's cramp. (I think all the players had mogigraphia by that point...)

The finalists: Carpe Spellum, the Dover Foundation, Taylor Estates and the Spellunkers, burned through the Championship round and about three pages of extra-hard "Killer Bee" words before the Dover Foundation emerged victorious with the word "kishke".

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Wrap Up

I can't believe it's over...but it was so much fun!

The Bee seems larger than life, even in retrospect. Random observations:

Jane Bleakley is the Artist of the YEAR: her set design, with the anthropomorphic putti-style bees flying in and out of the vegitation, astonished and pleased spectators and participants throughout the evening. Her Bee Tree in the foyer was a very fitting display for the generosity of dozens of donors.

Lorie Linnell masterminded the "outside" of the Bee, overseeing treats and Bee Tree Words ALL EVENING LONG. Michelle Donatelli marshalled dozens of bakers to furnish tray after tray of goodies for the spectators.

Marlayne Brace designed the layout and flow of the "inside" of the Bee. Her floor plans and detailed lists of materials and responsible helpers made the evening flow smoothly.

Dover Cable moved mountains of scaffolding to set up in the gym. We trust that their improved vantage points and serious advance planning will yield a TV event that will rival the live event for energy and accessibility.

Now, for the real stars of the show: the Spellers:
Check Paul Keleher's flickr account for photos of teams. Of particular note are:
Bee-lieve It to See It (Connie Dawson, Cathy Chiavarini and Stephen Harte) in their Bee suits and Bee glasses--always a fabulous team, but this year they outdid themselves.
Carpe Spellum (Christine DiMartino, Ellie Herd, and Karen McKoy), our first runners-up, dressed eclectically (although not in tiaras this year; oh, well)--hope to see them again next year, they came SO CLOSE!
Coldwell Banker, Wellesley (Jennifer Blake, Jean McDonnell and Laura Talmud): this loyal team put in another fine performance; they have supported us for 3 years now--THANK YOU!!
The Home Team (Kirk Downing, Deb Reinemann and Louise Snyder): The audience loved these players, particularly their "invented spelling" of various words...lots of fun.
Precious BEEginnings Preschool (Lara Clark, Michael Gilio and Regan Royston): these folks did well and seemed to be pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoyed the experience--come back again next year as an alumni team!
Bee Spellbound (Nancy Jefferson, Ginny Keniry and James Keohane): this team seemed to have as much fun off-stage as they did on--and the children had a wonderful time rooting for them.
The Capital Bees (Peter Mitchell, Carol Lisbon and Dave Melville): the HATS!! I hope you wear them to Town Meeting!! Please???
Dover Foundation (Rebecca Delgado, Marguerite Eckles, Brent Johnstone): what more can we say? Congratulations!
The Gentilli Geniuses (Sara Muckstadt, Lisa Sussman, Phuong Tang-Tso) were the Lime Green girls with the 18 really good reasons to be in the Bee, including the best cheering section in the event. They win the Spirit Award. What an excellent example for all of our children.
Spellerz from the 'Hood (Kim Chase, Leslie Moore and Andy Thompson) win the Best Costume prize. I think they should be on the cover of the next Town Report.

Will cover the rest to the gym!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The winning word in 2008: KISHKE

which is a type of onion sausage.

It was a wonderful, amazing, successful night and I will write all about it tomorrow and over the weekend. Until then, congratulations to champions The Dover Foundation (Rebecca Delgado, Marguerite Eckles and Brent Johnstone), who edged out Carpe Spellum on the third page of the Especially Difficult Extra Words Just in Case (aka the Killer Bee words). Well done, all, and thank you!

Now, it is time to sleep.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Last-minute musings

The words have been selected, the pronunciations proofed, the sentences written. The programmes have been printed, the tables ordered, the nametags printed. The Bee Tree is organized, the decorations are ready to go. I'm baking cupcakes and brownies with little candy bees on them for the Bee Café. Tomorrow evening our months of planning will come to fruition, and the Bee will take on a life of its own.

I don't know who is more nervous at this moment--the contestants or the Bee committee.

As the compiler of the word list, I have to say it has been a challenge to balance the needs of the more competetive spellers with those who are just in it for fun. We don't want anyone going "out" on the first word, but we do need to establish a clear winner of each round--and, of course, of the Bee itself. Each of the 4 preliminary rounds has 18 words: easier words in the beginning, and harder words towards the end. The Championship Round has 17 words. Because we know we have some extremely good spellers coming, I have crafted a separate list of "Killer Bees": the most difficult words, designed to bring a protracted round to a (hopefully) swift conclusion. I have 75 "Killer Bee" words, and I'm bringing the entire 800+ word list just in case we need it. Remember, the folks who are spelling are really competing against the list, not one another.

Now is the time to remind everyone that all participants in this Bee are winners. They are supporting their town Library, one of Dover's finest treasures. I would like to thank all the participants, most sincerely, for their community spirit and willingness to come out and have fun to benefit the Library. I hope we have a large and appreciative audience to support the players (and to buy all the goodies out in the hall). Because we have had so many private donors to the Bee, all of our expenses have been covered. Everything we make tomorrow night goes directly to the Library via the Friends. It doesn't get much better than that!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Last but NOT LEAST: The Warrant Committee

You have no idea what an honor it is to have the support of the Warrant Committee. I don't care if they can't spell a single word--the fact is they've committed to the Bee because they believe in our grass-roots efforts to raise money for the Library (outside of municipal appropriations, which they control). I am fond of calling my own Board of Trustees the BBIT (acronym created by Holly Collins, of the Best Board in Town), but the Warrant Committee could easily be called HWBIT (somewhat less pronounceable: the Hardest Working Board in Town). These people meet ALL THE TIME and at crazy hours--early morning, after dinner--anything to make sure they have a quorum to address the financial needs of the town. You ought to read their minutes. And if you know any of them, you ought to thank them for their service to your town. And you REALLY ought to go to Town Meeting, where you will see all their hard work on display: they go, member by member, item by item, through every single warrant on the Town Meeting docket. It is an amazing process. (GO: it's 7 p.m. at the High School on May 5th--always the first Monday in May. Dover's governing body is Town Meeting, and that means you. If you don't vote, you cannot complain.)
As if they did not already have enough to do a month before Town Meeting, the Warrant Committee signed up for the Bee--just the other day. This evening I delivered a hard copy of the word list to Chair Robyn Hunter, who will spell along with Nate Van Duzer and former WC member (and Current Selectman--how's that for going from the frying pan into the fire?) David Heinlein. All I can say is, you had better applaud when they get up for their round. They deserve a standing ovation, for so much more than the Bee.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pollinating the Bee Tree

The Bee Tree is a new venture for us, and we are excited to report that we have nearly 50 donors' gifts to sell. For prices ranging from $10 on up, buyers will select a word and receive a gift certificate for a donated item whose word is somehow linked to its identity. (Here's an example: purchasing the word "starched" might land you a gift certificate to a local dry-cleaner's.) The Greater Dover community has been extremely generous to the Bee Tree, and we have a huge variety of fabulous gifts and gift cards. We hope that you will shop for words (don't worry--the Tree words are much easier than the ones used in the Bee!) and show your appreciation to the many "pollinators" whose business support makes our Bee a success.

Team Spotlight: Bee-con Hill

The Dover Town Library is delighted to announce that our own Senator James Timilty will spell at the Bee. Word is that Senator Timilty enjoyed spelling bees as a youngster, and it is logical to imagine that one who is so adept at remembering names and faces would also be a good speller. Senator Timilty will be joined by Mary Jo Keaney and homegrown talent Nan Leonard. We are honored to have their support, and wish them an enjoyable evening at the Bee.

Team Spotlight: Spellerz from the Hood

How's that for a name? This is a new team from the Oakley Road/Park Avenue neighborhood. Anyone who has walked a dog or a stroller through this charming neighborhood cannot help but envy the beautifully-executed balance of intimacy and privacy...not to mention the quiet, child-friendly roads. One of my all-time favorite yards is part of this neighborhood--every year I look forward to seeing what wonderful new things are blooming there.
We are delighted to welcome Leslie Moore, Kim Chase and Andy Thompson to the Bee, and we wish them luck. Friends and neighbors can leave them good-luck messages here in the blog, by clicking the "comments" link at the end of this entry.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Team Spotlight: Spell Sesquipedalian

...whew, typing that long, long word gave me mogigraphia!
Spell Sesquipedalian--Julia Madden, Anna Gaissert and Jackie Carroll, are coming back to defend their title. Last year these bright young women won the Bee in sudden death overtime, and they confessed that they hadn't really studied at all--they were busy with MCAS and extracurricular activities. We are delighted to welcome them back this year, and wish them all the best.

Team Spotlight: Bee Spellbound

This is a new Chickering team, formed by '07 veteran Nancy Jefferson, Jim Keohane and Vice-Principal Ginny Keniry. Ms. Jefferson once assured me earnestly that intelligence and the ability to spell are not linked...information that has comforted me as I misspell my way through the Bee preparations. We can look forward to great spelling and good fun from this terrific group.

Team Spotlight: Dover Mothers' Association

Here's another team to watch. The Dover Mothers' Association won the first Bee, and did extremely well in 2007. Three-year veteran Marisa Fisch is joined by Kristen Sampson and new speller Gina Doyle. These are the folks who brought us the expression "The Moms are Da Bomb" and you'd better believe it's true. They always put forward an excellent team.
The Dover Mothers' Association is a volunteer and social group for mothers with young children in Dover. They sponsor many local programs and events. Their e-mail address is

Another typo: KLABERJASS is the word, not KLABBERJASS

...and again, I apologize for the typo. The word will be removed from the Bee list. Many thanks to Brent Johnstone for pointing this out, along with accipitral. These are two words I'll never forget how to spell!

removing a word from the word list: ACCIPITAL should be ACCIPITRAL

and I apologize for the typo. The word ACCIPITRAL means hawklike, and I typed it incorrectly in the word list. The word will not be used on the night of the Bee.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Team Spotlight: The TAB

The Bee is open to 9th-graders on up, and we are delighted to welcome back the Library's own Teen Advisory Board team. Lauren Springett, Danielle Hall and Nicole Huang did a beautiful job last year in TAB-designed tee-shirts. The TAB meets periodically at the Library for a wide-ranging set of activities; check our website, for details on their plans.

Team Spotlight: the Spellunkers

They're back again! I heard last year that the Spellunkers were formed when some of the team watched DCTV's rerun of the 06 Bee and thought it looked like fun. They showed up with crazy hats (check the photos--link to the right) and did very, very well. This is a team to watch, folks!

An encore from the Dover Foundation

Each year we have enjoyed the participation of the Dover Foundation, not simply because they are our friends and neighbors, and not merely for their fabulous costumes and proven spelling acumen. We also like their raison d'etre: they generate scholarship money through fantastic community theatre productions. Here is a link to their website: Talent and generosity: what could be better?
Check them out, and try to make time to see their spring show, Carousel, May 8th--10th (right after Town Meeting). And while you're visiting their website, explore their most recent synergy with your favorite Library:


The only bad words in a Bee are the ones the list publisher misspells. I am very sorry to report having done just that, with the word hypsibrachycephalism. The last three letters are "ism" not "sim" as I had written.

This word will NOT be used during the Bee, and I apologize profusely for having mistyped it in the list. As I cull the final list for the Bee Night, I am double-checking the spelling, pronunciation and definition of each word being used. I will not use any words that were published with incorrect spellings.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Mulligan Improvement

Based on feedback from seasoned players, we have made an important and beneficial change to the way Bee Mulligans work. In the past, we let you use the Mulligan to OPT OUT of spelling a word. This year, we are letting you use it like a golf Mulligan: if you misspell a word, you can hand in your Mulligan afterwards and stay in the round.

Mulligans cannot be used in the Championship Round. Only one Mulligan per team, and only one use per Mulligan. Mulligans cannot be transferred to other teams.

You can buy a Mulligan at the Library for only $100. Sign up for your Mulligan at the Library, and we'll hand them out on the Bee night (we'll probably put it in the Team Captain's goody bag).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Team Spotlight: the Gentilli Geniuses

OK, I have to confess: I have a soft spot in my heart for this team. Mrs. Gentilli, the team's eponym (potential spelling word!), is my son's first grade teacher. Her motto is: "Every Child a Speller". The lucky parents in this class have rallied around this motto, and have decided to set a good example for the children by forming a team in Mrs. Gentilli's honor. The parents in the class are all chipping in for the entrance fee, and word is that Mrs. Gentilli will make an appearance at the Bee (surrounded, no doubt, by her Student Fan Club). The actual spellers are Sara Muckstadt, Phuong Tang-Tso, and Lisa Sussman. When the collection e-mail was going around, I was struck by how many parents chimed in with "Oh, we LOVE the Library!" and happily offered help with the entry fee. Whether or not they win the Bee remains to be seen, but they certainly deserve a Spirit Award!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Team Spotlight: Carpe Spellum

This new team is an amalgamation (how's THAT for a spelling word?) of two earlier Library teams: Spell's Angels and the Library Queens. Christine DiMartino is a three-year veteran of the Bee, participating on the Precious Bee-ginnings preschool team in '06 (and making it to the championship round), before switching to Spell's Angels in last year's competition. Ellie Herd and Karen McKoy acquitted themselves honorably last year as ball-gowned, tiara-topped Library Queens. A team to watch, for sure!

Team Spotlight: The Capital Bees

We are fortunate to have the support of the Capital Budget Committee in our Library budget process, and we are very grateful to have their additional and personal support in the form of a Bee team. Look for chair Peter Mitchell, Dave Melville and Selectman Carol Lisbon as they put their spelling acumen to work for our spring fundraiser. These people work hard for the town as a whole, and we are lucky to have their time and talent at the Bee.

Team Spotlight: Taylor Estates

This new team, comprised of neighbors Nancy Simms, Tom Dixon and Joe DeSalvo, has two experienced Bee contenders--Nancy Simms spelled for the Warrant Committee in years past, and Tom Dixon is a former speller for the fabulously-named Kinda Convex Ride (an anagram of the last names of Cave, Dixon and Kinder). We are looking forward to seeing how they do this year, in this new configuration, but mostly we thank them for their community-spiritedness and support of the Library!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Team Spotlight: Bee-lieve It to See It

In this Chickering School team, we welcome returning spellers Connie Dawson and Stephen Harte, and new speller Cathy Chiavarini. Students are sure to be inspired by the sight of teachers studying for and competing in a spelling bee!

Team Spotlight: Coldwell Banker

Local real estate firms are steady and loyal supporters of both the Library and the Bee, and we are very pleased to be welcoming Jean McDonnell, Laura Talmud and Jennifer Blake for Coldwell Banker's third year in the Dover Bee.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Team Spotlight: Non-Fiction Book Club

This trio--Chip Spalding, Barbara Roth-Schecter, and Gerry Wise--are back for their third year in a row. Expect a good performance from these erudite, well-read Library supporters!

Team Spotlight: "The Home Team"

This is a new team, featuring new Chickering Principal Kirk Downing, Curriculum Coordinator (and former Science Diva) Deb Reinemann and Literacy Specialist Louise Snyder. We're happy to have a new Chickering team on board, and wish them luck. You can wish them luck as well by clicking at the end of this entry, or by purchasing an inexpensive "good luck" message in the Bee program.

Team Spotlight: the Town House Honey Bees

The Honey Bees are a new team, formed around Sue Sheridan of the 2007 A Bee Cs team. With a seasoned participant on board, and--as I understand it--some coaching from the CoA, this is a team to keep your eye on.

Team Spotlight: Precious Bee-ginnings

This pre-school, located in the lower level of St. Dunstan's Church in Dover, has been supporting the Bee since its inception, and they're always the first team to sign up. The spellers change as the children grow, but the team's good sportsmanship never wavers. And they're good spellers, too! Look for their signature shirts, designed by Dover artist Jane Bleakley, and remember to Bee Smart, Bee Strong and Bee Precious.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Spotlight on Teams

We will begin to focus on teams who are signing up for the 08 Bee. You are free to leave your favorites a good-luck message here (click on the comments link at the end of the appropriate blog entries), and you may also buy your friends a good-luck message in the Bee program by submitting a form and paying a small fee. Check links to the Bee for details, or stop in and ask.

Remember: ANYONE who participates in the Bee is a winner by definition. This is our major spring fundraising event and that is why people are entering. (Surely it's not for the bobble-head Bee prizes we gave out in '06...) It's YOUR Library. Be proud to support it!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Words are available

The word lists are now at the Library for registered participants. Stop in today, and check out the Staff's Bee decorations!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The words are at the printer's...

This year we are distributing a list of approximately 850 words, loosely affiliated with the following five categories:
  • The Natural World: words about weather, plants, animals, geography and the physical world.
  • The Social World: words that describe the world as people have modified it.
  • Yes, there IS a word for that: you will not believe the specific words that exist for completely random things.
  • Spell-check's Darlings: is Spell-Check your friend, or your foe? These words will help you find out.
  • Personal Pet Peeves: some words never look right to me, no matter how often I see them. Hopefully you will have better luck with them than I do.

Words will be made available to registered contestants as soon as they are available.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Retiring word

aebleskive noun
kind of spherical pancake with apple filling
I loved this word---it's hard to figure out what it might be, unless you know some Scandinavian derivations. Lots of teams went "out" on this word in the '07 Bee. However, we are not going to use it this year, because Williams-Sonoma has started selling an aebleskive pan--sure to make it a household word, literally. But it's still a great word.

Friday, February 22, 2008

let's hope you don't have...

1) bad handwriting
2) bad spelling
Thanks again to the calendar of Forgotten English, by Jeffrey Kacirk. Some of these "forgotten" words are due for a comeback!

Great Scrabble word

vug noun
A small hole in a rock or vein that often contains a mineral lining that differs from that of the surrounding matrix.
With thanks to the Forgotten English calendar by Jeffrey Kacirk ("vug" is the word for 23 June).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dressing for Success

Some teams dress up for the Bee, and they add to the evening's festive atmosphere. In no particular order, here are some (but not all) of the best-dressed teams of yesteryear:

  • Chickering Chicks: School Committee team, wearing rhinestone-studded T-shirts and--you have got to see this in the photos--chicken hats. Priceless.
  • Desperate Housewives: a lovely trio, dressed to match their namesakes of Wisteria Lane fame. And although they resembled their characters superficially, this great group played fair and graciously.
  • Precious Bee-ginnings: a local preschool (Precious Beginnings) sported shirts designed by Dover artist Jane Bleakley, reminding us all to Bee Precious, Bee Strong, and Bee Smart.
  • Dover Foundation: fabulous costumes, fantastic hats. Always a magnificent performance.
  • Claybrook Roadies: this team dressed in black t-shirts, jeans and caps. They nearly stole the show, too--they're very good spellers!
  • Spellunkers: watch the DCTV reruns to see the blinking miner's cap. Hilarious.
  • Spell's Angels: the dark side of the otherwise sunny Children's Room staff. The name says it all.
  • Library Queens: this famous trinity (Staff, Friends and Trustees) played in ball gowns and tiaras. Just like they do every day.
  • Dover Mothers' Association: this team won the '06 Bee in shirts rightly proclaiming: "The Moms are da Bomb". Their '07 attire was somewhat subdued by contrast--tee-shirts sporting a tastefully-designed logo. They're still Da Bomb in my books.
  • The Chicatabot Garden Club came with gloves, aprons, hats and trowels in '06. I firmly believe that if you can spell "Chicatabot" you can win the Bee.

This year we will be awarding Best Costume and Best Name distinctions. Go rummage through your closets!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Last year's Bee finalists

Will they place again this year? Who knows. Watching the 2007 Bee reruns Wednesday evening on DCTV (channel 8), I was reminded of what incredibly good spellers all the finalists were. They went through all our "extra-hard" words!
Their skill should be remembered, and so here are the team names of last year's Championship Round participants: The Dover Foundation (excellent costumes); the Holey Spellers (yes, they can spell pharaoh); the Spellars; the Spellunkers (witty hats); and the champions, Spell Sesquipedalian. You can find Spell Sesquipedalian's name (along with names of the individual spellers) listed under the 2006 Champions, the Dover Mothers' Association, on the plaque next to the door in the Library's lower level.
Check out the replays on Channel 8, if you have time. In addition to some truly impressive spelling, you will see the camaraderie and good sportsmanship that makes our Bee a real Dover event.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Registered teams will receive spelling words the last week of February

In case we did not make this crystal clear before, if your team has signed up and paid, we GIVE you the Bee words in advance. We are currently compiling a list of several hundred words; during the night of the Bee we will probably need about 200 of them. We construct rounds of about 15--20 words per round (depending on the number of teams spelling), and we have a special word list for the Championship round.

The words will be available to teams who have registered in full on or before February 25th. There is a definite advantage to having your paperwork in before the 25th, because then all you'll need to do afterwards is stop by and pick up your list. We won't be able to release the words to members of incomplete teams, so right now is the time to get yourselves organized. Pick a team name, get everyone's contact information on the same sheet. Get a 4th person to be your team's alternate if you have concerns about your teammates' availability on April 3rd (advantage: your 4th teammate might save on the entry fee, and thus can buy you a Mulligan). You can download an entry form from the Library website:

Some teams study; some (including, as I understand it, last year's winners) do not. Having watched the Dover Bee evolve, I would venture to say that the real competition is not so much between the teams participating but rather between the teams and the word list. The teams who are not spelling in a particular round are seated together at long tables; there is a lot of good-natured conversation and camaraderie. Come check it out!

Saturday, February 9, 2008


KOM-plə-mənt noun
a polite expression of praise


ROY-stur verb
To revel noisily.
More thanks to the Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate


hi-JEM-uh-nee noun
1. dominance of leadership, especially by one nation over another
2. leadership, predominance
with thanks to the Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate, by Eugene Ehrlich


Kom uh-NAY-shun noun
a threat of vengeance, especially divine vengeance

Friday, February 8, 2008


TOO-sahn, alternately: too-SAHN noun
City in Arizona
Today's theme: words I have never been able to spell correctly.
For some reason I can spell Massachusetts, but anything east of Pennsylvania is a challenge.


sin-sin-AT-ee noun
City in Ohio.
Today's theme: words I have never been able to spell correctly.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Catch our reruns on Channel 8

If you have cable television, check out DCTV on Channel 8, who are very kindly showing last year's Bee. It was on Wednesday night at 7.30 this week; check their website for the complete schedule:
Dover Cable will be at Chickering Gym to film the Bee again this year. We are not sure we can run it live, due to wiring constraints at Chickering. We are hoping to have a live run out in the Bee Café during the event.


\ˈkäm-plə-mənt\ noun

1 a: something that fills up, completes, or makes perfect b: the quantity, number, or assortment required to make a thing complete; especially : the whole force or personnel of a ship c: one of two mutually completing parts : counterpart
2 a: the angle or arc that when added to a given angle or arc equals a right angle in measure b: the set of all elements that do not belong to a given set and are contained in a particular mathematical set containing the given set c: a number that when added to another number of the same sign yields zero if the significant digit farthest to the left is discarded —used especially in assembly language programming
With thanks to

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


\ə-ˈkä-mə-ˌdāt\ verb
1: to make fit, suitable, or congruous
2: to bring into agreement or concord : reconcile
3: to provide with something desired, needed, or suited (as a helpful service, a loan, or lodgings)
4 a: to make room for b: to hold without crowding or inconvenience
5: to give consideration to : allow for intransitive verb: to adapt oneself


zuc·chi·ni \zu-ˈ-nē\ noun
a smooth cylindrical usually dark green summer squash; also : a plant that bears zucchini
Yes, we all know what it is, but can you spell it?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


ˈmā-ə-ˌnāz noun
a thick sauce made from egg yolks and oil
Someone once told me that the word mayonnaise is derived from an Irish chef named McMahon. His French clients were much taken by a special sauce of his invention, which they called "sauce mahonaise". No idea if this is true, but it's a good story. My home dictionary connects the word to the French capture of the city of Mahón (in Minorca) in 1756. For a photo of Mahón, click on:, and then ask yourself why you spend your winters in New England.


al-gə-ri-thəm noun
a procedure for solving a problem


xiphias (ZIFF ee us) noun
This word has appeared before in spelling bees, and I like it because it's a word we can, with a little effort, work into everyday life--assuming you eat swordfish. And if you have children who don't like swordfish, the word xiphias gives you an opportunity to start with a clean slate and see if you can't trick them into trying it again. Good luck with that.

Monday, February 4, 2008


\ˌa-pə-ˌsī-ə-ˈpē-səs\ noun
Inflected Form(s):
plural ap·o·si·o·pe·ses \-ˌsēz\
the leaving of a thought incomplete usually by a sudden breaking off (as in “his behavior was—but I blush to mention that”)


SOL-ə-siz-əm noun
a mistake in the use of language
an offense against good manners or etiquette
(thanks to Diane Cullen for The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate)



\ˈman(t)-swi-ˌtüd, man-ˈsü-ə-, -ˌtyüd\ noun
the quality or state of being gentle : meekness tameness


kwing kwə jə NAY ree an noun
someone between the ages of 50 and 59


su`perch´er`y noun
Deceit; fraud; imposition.


def·la·grate \ˈdef-lə-ˌgrāt\ verb
transitive verb : to cause to deflagrate intransitive verb : to burn rapidly with intense heat and sparks being given off
thanks to


(ad-si-TISH-uhs) adjective

Derived from outside; external; additional.

[From Latin adscitus, past participle of adsciscere (to admit or adopt), from ad- (toward) + sciscere (to seek to know), from scire (to know).
Thanks again to


(i-SEE-sis) noun

The entry or establishment of a plant in a new habitat.

[From Greek okiesis (inhabitation), from oikein (to inhabit). Ultimately from Indo-European root weik- (clan) that is also the forbear of vicinity, village, villa, and villain (originally, a villain was a farm servant, one who lived in a villa or a country house).]
With thanks to


moliminous (mo-LIM-in-uhs) adjective

Massive; laborious.
[From Latin molimen (effort, weight, importance).]
The perfect word to use when describing the compilation of spelling words for the Bee list...


\i-ˈgrē-jəs\ adjective
Latin egregius, from e- + greg-, grex herd — more at gregarious
1archaic : distinguished2: conspicuous; especially : conspicuously bad : flagrant — egre·gious·ly adverb
— egre·gious·ness noun

I love this word because it means "away from the flock"--an egregious action is one that puts you over to one side of the herd. It's the same root as "gregarious", but quite a different meaning.


em·bar·rass·ing·ly \-ə-siŋ-lē\ adverb
to an embarrassing degree : so as to cause embarrassment


/DA kə ree/ noun

an iced cocktail made from rum, lemon or lime juice, and sugar or syrup


somniloquy (som-NIL-uh-kwee) noun

The act or habit of talking while asleep.
[From Latin somni- (sleep) + loqui (to speak).]
with thanks to A Word A Day (

Sunday, February 3, 2008


quinquennially kwin-KWEN-nE-ə-lE adverb
1 : consisting of or lasting for five years
2 : occurring or being done every five years


facetiae (fuh-SEE-shee-ee) noun

Witty or humorous remarks or writings.

From Latin facetia (jest). Ultimately from the Indo-European root dhe- (to set or put) which is also the source of do, deed, factory, fashion, face, rectify, defeat, sacrifice, satisfy, Urdu purdah (literally, veil or curtain), and Russian duma (council). All that in one little word. Imagine!

With thanks to

Saturday, February 2, 2008


obeisance o-BAY-səns noun
a gesture or movement of the body expressing reverence or respect, such as a bow or curtsey

Friday, February 1, 2008

Where do we find the Bee words?

The list of words for the Bee will be made available to paid participants at the end of February/early March. But how is the list made?

In the past, we relied on the Scripps National Spelling Bee Paideia, the word book used by students as they prepare for the National Bee. We were able to buy the books and give them out to our contestants, occasionally with supplements to make the Dover Bee a more challenging and entertaining experience for all.

This year, Scripps is not selling word books, but rather encouraging participants to download a word booklet from their website ( We are, therefore, compiling our own list of words--some from the Scripps group, some from on-line word-a-day websites and calendars, some from past years' words (like pharaoh, still my all-time favorite), and some from our own vocabularies and spelling weaknesses. People associated with libraries tend to be interested in words, and some of us never seem to run out of them! We anticipate having to use about 200 words on the night of April 3rd, but will distribute a much larger study list.

If you have any ideas for good spelling words, send them to us at You never know, your word might make the final list!


infare \ˈin-ˌfer\ noun

a reception for a newly married couple

from Middle English, entrance, from Old English infær, from in + fær way, from faran to go — more at fare
(with thanks to

Thursday, January 31, 2008


\kə-ˈmit-mənt\ noun
1 a: an act of committing to a charge or trust: as (1): a consignment to a penal or mental institution (2): an act of referring a matter to a legislative committee b: mittimus2 a: an agreement or pledge to do something in the future; especially : an engagement to assume a financial obligation at a future date b: something pledged c: the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled
(with thanks to:

Wry observation: when we hear the word "commitment" our thoughts often jump to matters of the heart, while the dictionary's definition points us toward jail or an asylum. Coincidence?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


per-ni-cious pər NISH-əs adjective
Tending to cause death or serious injury; deadly. Causing great harm; destructive; ruinous.
Origin: Latin perniciousus, from per (completely) + nex (death, violence).


trav-əld adjective Having traveled widely; experienced in travel.

This is one of those words that always makes me think twice: one "l" or two? My dictionary allows two for the verb form, but stipulates one for the adjective. Just to mess me up.

Monday, January 28, 2008


cancrine (KANG-krin) adjective

1. Reading the same backwards as forwards, palindromic. For example,
"A man, a plan, a canal: Panama." (letter cancrine)
"So patient a doctor to doctor a patient so!" (word cancrine)

2. Crab-like.

[From Latin cancr- (stem of cancer) cancer + -ine.]

J.S. Bach's Crab Canon is an example of cancrine music:
(With thanks to A Word A Day @ Check out their anagram server link on the right of this page.)

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Pharaoh is, to my mind, the perfect spelling bee word. Everyone knows what a pharaoh is, right? But are you sure you know how to spell it?
During one of the rounds of the 2006 Bee, the word "pharaoh" instantly eliminated all but one team, to the good-natured chagrin of the competitors.
As we compile this year's list, we will be looking for more words like pharaoh.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Having or characterized by pleasant flavor
Try the cherry juice pop; I am sure you will find it sufficiently geusioleptic for your palate.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The winning Bee word for 2006: dysrhythmia

dysrhythmia dis RITH mee uh noun
An abnormality in an otherwise normal rhythmic pattern, as of brain waves being recorded by an electroencephalograph.
The ticking clock’s dysrhythmia alerted us to the broken escapement.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Winning Bee word for 2007: odontalgia

odontalgia (oh-don-tal-ja) noun
A toothache.
This word won in sudden death overtime. We were in a panic because the spellers in the Championship Round were so good, they'd almost used up our list of words. One of the Bee committee members went to the dictionary and selected some extra words, hand-writing the words, meanings and pronunciations on a sheet of lined notebook paper. Sure enough, we had to use that list before the end of the final round. I don't know who was more nervous, the spellers or the Bee workers!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A bit about how the Bee works

Spellers compete in teams of 3, in rounds of 4--6 teams. Teams are seated together at small café tables. Each team has a whiteboard and some markers.

Spelling words are projected onto the wall behind the teams (no peeking!).

The announcer reads the word and may use the word in a sentence. Team members confer about the spelling, and the member with the neatest handwriting writes the word on the whiteboard.

If a team has purchased a "Mulligan" and chooses NOT to spell a word, they hand in their cardboard "M".

After a period of time (or sooner, if all teams have finished), the teams raise their whiteboards simultaneously for checking. Teams who spelled the word correctly or opted out with a Mulligan will advance to the next word; eliminated spelling teams will remain seated at the café tables until the round is concluded.

Winners from each round advance to the final Championship Round. Mulligans may not be used in the Championship Round.

The Spelling Champions receive a standing ovation, Enormous Bragging Rights, and their names (team and individual) are recorded on a Bee plaque in the lower foyer of the Library.