The National Spelling Bee Finals, Canceled by COVID Last Year, Are Tonight. Take Our Very Serious Quiz.

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Last year was the first time since World War II that the national spelling bee was canceled. The bee is back. Finals are tonight at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.

I’m no fan of the bee. You can have it. Why would I want to watch you fumble “pococurante” in front of millions of eyes as beads of terrified sweat light up your crunched forehead like an athlete grunting against the weight of a defender? Still, I’m a Professional Haver of Interest in spelling and grammar and language and accuracy and education, the whole mess of obsessive word-squinting. All for the idea. But if I’ve learned one thing from this spelling racket, it’s the right to informed dissent: The bee is a sugar high.

I’ve read the arguments for and against, and I’m not swatting or punching “down” at your intrepid bee—bee health matters—but if you catch me in the elevator at an annual copy-edit conference (real event) and ask me to spell “succedaneum” or “guetapens” or “autochthonous,” I’ll inch away and take a “phone call.”

“Succedaneum” and “guetapens” and “autochthonous” are winning words from spelling bees of years past. Take a look at the winners from every contest since 1925. Knock yourself out.

Before you send us pointed rebuttals to recharge@motherjones.com, prove your mettle/metal/meddle/medal by acing this quiz:

1. misspelled or mispelled

2. hydroxychloroquine or hydroxychloroquin

3. incumbant or incumbent

4. gerrimandering or gerrymandering

5. caronavirus, coronavirus, or coronovirus

6. predeliction, predilection, or prediliction

7. desperate or desparate

8. annually or anually

9. buoyant or bouyant

10. separate or seperate

11. concensus or consensus

12. embarrass or embarass

13. guage or gauge

14. miniscule or minuscule

15. occurrence or occurance

16. persue or pursue 

17. siege or seige

18. sieze or seize

19. vacuum or vaccuum

20. withhold or withold

Look at you—20 out of 20! Congratulations. You didn’t even buckle and search. Tune in tonight if you must. Before you go, a bonus for playing: Get in on Mother Jones’ latest newsletter, David Corn’s This Land, for our DC bureau chief’s sharp insights, scoops, recommendations, and behind-the-scenes accounts from Washington and beyond. I guarantee each newsletter is spelled perfectly—and perfectly spelled. Get on it.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate