It’s a Trap! No, It’s a Spelling Bee Champion!

By Ross Brenneman — June 01, 2012 1 min read
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With a pop of confetti, the indefatigable 14-year-old Snigdha Nandipati won the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee 85th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee yesterday in Washington.

Nearly 300 future bossy editors exhaustingly good Words With Friends opponents young students ages 6-14 converged on the nation’s capital over the last week, including three of last year’s finalists and the youngest-ever speller in the competition, six-year-old Lori Anne Madison.

Nandipati emerged triumphant over all of them on the word “guetapens,” a word of French origin meaning “an ambush, snare, or trap.” Nandipati gave a quick smile after finishing (not quite as dramatic as the 1997 winner), although none of the judges remembered to tell her she was correct, so that job fell to whoever was in charge of releasing the confetti. A relieved Nandipati was quickly embraced by her younger brother.

The winner, who also perfectly executed “saccharolytic,” “admittatur,” and “arrondissement,” (note: the spelling filter on Microsoft Word didn’t recognize any of those words) held off some fierce and well-publicized competition. Nandipati’s final opponent, Stuti Mishra, couldn’t lock down “schwarmerei,” a German word that, in a stunning display of fate’s insensitivity, means “unbridled enthusiasm.” Madison, who was the focus of a media blitz, didn’t make it to the finals.

For her dedication to the English language, Nandipati will win $30,000, a $2,500 savings bond, and the final print edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. She also gave inspiration to all those current and former spellers who advanced to their regional competitions and got to the final four only to be stumped by “gaiters,” which is an inane word that no 10-year-old would ever understand because no one cool wears gaiters, and then have to sit in the audience watching another kid get a round of applause for spelling “tuberculosis,” which is spelled exactly as it sounds and isn’t that hard, but whatever, good for her, and there’s always next year.

Congratulations to Snigdha Nandipati!

Photo: With confetti falling, Snigdha Nandipati, 14, of San Diego, right, is embraced by her brother Sujan Nandipati, 10, after she won the National Spelling Bee with the word “guetapens” in Oxon Hill, Md., on Thursday. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

A version of this news article first appeared in the Beyond School blog.