Around the time 12-year-old Ananya Vinay of Fresno, California, triumphed with “m-a-r-o-c-a-i-n,” the people in her home state struggled with “b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l.” The following year, when 14-year-old Karthik Nemmani of McKinney, Texas, bested his opponent with “k-o-i-n-o-n-i-a,” Texans really wanted to know how to spell “s-u-p-e-r-c-a-l-i-f-r-a-g-i-l-i-s-t-i-c-e-x-p-i-a-l-i-d-o-c-i-o-u-s.”
The Scripps National Spelling Bee starts Tuesday, pitting 565 contestants age 7 to 15 against each other to spell words they will likely never use in a sentence. Back also is Google with its list of America’s top spelling searches (it was previously called America’s most misspelled words).
Google says the list is based on the search phrase “How to spell . . . ” but does not say when the searches were made nor provide additional context for the searches. The company did not immediately respond to an email inquiry Friday, so we are left to our own imagination.
For example, why are people from so many states searching “How to spell beautiful”? It’s been a common top word in the past three years. In 2019, a “beautiful” belt runs from Virginia through the Carolinas and Georgia into Florida.
Why “niece” in Alabama or “embarrassed” in Idaho? “Pneumonia” is the top word searched in Pennsylvania this year; it topped for Alabama and Washington, D.C., in 2017.
“Indict” in Louisiana seems ominous. What about “independence” in North Dakota? Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious appeared in 2017 and 2018 only to fall off entirely this year. Hawaii went from “grateful” in 2018 to “Hawaii” in 2019. The District simply had “enough.”
Then there is New York, where “bougie” won out. That doesn’t seem like it would stump a spelling bee champ.
The full list for 2019 is below.
Washington, D.C.: enough
New Hampshire: recess
New Jersey: grey
New Mexico: patience
New York: bougie
North Carolina: beautiful
North Dakota: independence
Rhode Island: message
South Carolina: beautiful
South Dakota: jewelry
West Virginia: eleven