OXON HILL, Md. – A look at some unusual, difficult or otherwise noteworthy words from the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
— 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," said aspiring comedy writer Amber Born, 14, of Marblehead, Mass. 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, 14, of Jacksonville, Fla., 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.
Follow Ben Nuckols on Twitter at https://twitter.com/APBenNuckols.