National Spelling Bee: Could you spell these 10 winning business words?

In the National Spelling Bee’s 85-year existence, a wide range of words have crowned the winners – from science words like ‘crustaceology,’ to musical terms such as ‘soubrette,’ and ‘appoggiatura.’ The list of winning words also includes several that could slide right into the pages of this newspaper’s business section. In honor of the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee, here are 10 business words from past years that have determined the champion. Will this year’s winning word make the list?


Malie Queta Curren, of Tetonia, Idaho, reacts when she hears her word during the third round of the National Spelling Bee, Wednesday, May 30, 2012, in Oxon Hill, Md. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Year: 1936

Champion: Jean Trowbridge (Des Moines, Iowa)

Definition:  (n.) The present participle of intern, which can mean, 1) to imprison someone without trial, 2) to internalize, or 3) to work as an intern, usually with little or no pay or other legal prerogatives of employment, for the purpose of furthering a program of education.

This third definition is the most common usage today, especially among ambitious high school and college kids. Back in 1936, however, it’s unlikely that the word “interning” brought to mind wide-eyed workplace hopefuls enthusiastically running to the Xerox machine. Many winning National Spelling Bee words, especially from the early years, are common parlance today, though they likely weren’t at the time. It’s highly possible that Jean Trowbridge had never even heard the word “interning.”

Used in a Business page sentence: Interning at a major fashion magazine can be a great opportunity for experience, but not so much for earning actual money.


Megan Pineda, 12, of Reno, Nev., spells her word during the National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., on Wednesday, May 30, 2012. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Year: 1950

Champion: Diana Reynard (Cleveland), Colquitt Dean (Atlanta). The two were named co-champions after exhausting the list of possible words.

Definition: (n.) the state or quality of being very precise, conscientious, and attentive to detail.

Used in a Business page sentence: Warren Buffett’s meticulosity in his investment decisions is one of the reasons he is a billionaire.


Luxury condos, located at The Heights of Carmel Valley, Calif. are shown in this commercial file photo. 'Condominium' was the winning word in the 1956 National Spelling Bee. (Business Wire/File)

Year: 1956

Champion: Melody Sachko (Pittsburgh)

Definition: (n.) 1) A building in which each unit is owned by an individual, but the entire structure and grounds are owned jointly. 2) A unit within such a building. Often shortened to “condo.”

Used in a Business page sentence:  Condominium prices weren’t spared in the housing crisis, though there are signs of recovery in some of the harder hit areas of the country, like south Florida.



Spellers leave the stage during a break in competition at the National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Wednesday, May 30, 2012. (Jacquelun Martin/AP)

Year: 1964


Champion: William Kerek (Akron, Ohio)


Definition: (n.) 1) A person who uses compliments or flattery to gain self-serving favor or advantage from another. 2) A person who seeks to gain through the powerful or influential.


Used in a Business page sentence: If that major financial firm hadn’t been full of sycophants, maybe the CEO wouldn’t have run it into the ground [opinion blog].


A croissant decorated with the symbol of the euro is shown in this 2002 file photo. It's a common word now, but 'crossiant' was unknown enough in 1970 to be the winning word in that year's National Spelling Bee. (Enrico Valenti/AP/File)

Year: 1970


Champion: Libby Childress (Winston-Salem, N.C.)


Definition:  (n.) A flaky, crescent-shaped roll


Used in a Business page sentence: Dunkin’ Donuts has introduced a seaweed-filled croissant, available only in the chain’s Tokyo locations.


In this 2010 file photo, an exchange store in Hong Kong displays a collage of copies of Chinese RMB, US dollar, and other foreign bills. 'Cambist,' a word for an expert in money exchage, won the 1977 National Spelling Bee for champion John Paola. (Kim Cheung/AP/File)

Year: 1977


Champion: John Paola (Pittsburgh)


Definition: (n.)  1) a money-changer or broker; a person who is skilled in the science and practice of monetary exchange. 2) A table or manual giving the exchange values of moneys, weights, and measures of various countries.


Used in a Business Page sentence: Last year’s cambist is out of date, now that the euro has fallen so dramatically.


In an undated photo provided by the US Attorney's Office, thousands of pieces of mail are on display after they were extracted from the home of former North Carolina mailman Steven Padgett. 'Maculature,' another word for junk mail, was the winning word in the 1979 National Spelling Bee. (US Attorney's Office/AP/FIle)

Year: 1979


Champion: Katie Kerwin (Denver)


Definition: 1) Blotting paper. 2) Paper waste; printed materials not intended for reading; junk mail.


Used in a Business page sentence: Unsubscribing from retail mailing lists will cut down on maculature and save the US Postal Service a few much-needed extra bucks.


Emma Steimle of Lawrence, Kan., spells her word during the third round of the National Spelling Bee, Wednesday, May 30, 2012, in Oxon Hill, Md. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Year: 1985


Champion: Balu Natarajan (Chicago)


Definition: (n.) a person’s environment or social setting


Used in a Business page sentence:  Mitt Romney’s childhood milieu may have helped him become a successful businessman and politician.


Six year-old Lori Ann Madison, of Woodbridge, Va., the youngest contestant in the history of the National Spelling Bee, spells her word during the second round on Wednesday, May 30, 2012 in Oxon Hill, Md. (Evan Vuccci/AP)

Year: 1990


Champion: Amy Marie Dimak (Seattle)


Definition: (n.) a linen-like fabric made of rayon.


Used in a Business page sentence:  The clothing retailer, which offers a line of low-cost garments made chiefly of fibranne, released a better than expected earnings report for the first quarter of 2012, boosting company stock.


As Patrizzia Fox-Beaudet, 10, of Cottonwood, Calif., left, balances her placard from it's string, Vaidya Govindarajan, 14, of Miami yawns at center, as fellow spellers compete during the National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Wednesday, May 30, 2012. At right is Shruti Amin, 14, of Murrieta, Calif. (Jacquelyn/AP)

Year: 1999

Champion: Nupur Lala (Tampa, Fla.)

Definition: (n.) excessive talkativeness

Used in a Business page sentence: Some decried Greg Smith’s New York Times-published resignation letter from Goldman Sachs as mere logorrhea, while others saw it as a much-needed wake up call for a company with an integrity problem.