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Nation & World

Beautiful, bougie and all the other words Americans still can't spell

Congratulations Iowans who can spell loose. You win this t-shirt. (The Gazette)
Congratulations Iowans who can spell loose. You win this t-shirt. (The Gazette)

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.

Alabama: niece

Alaska: preferred

Arizona: patient

Arkansas: family

California: beautiful

Colorado: favorite

Connecticut: neighbor

Delaware: veterinarian

Washington, D.C.: enough

Florida: beautiful

Georgia: beautiful

Hawaii: Hawaii

Idaho: embarrassed

Illinois: beautiful

Indiana: activities

Iowa: loose

Kansas: committee

Kentucky: ninety

Louisiana: indict

Maine: guess

Maryland: heart

Massachusetts: grey

Michigan: amazing

Minnesota: especially

Mississippi: fifteen

Missouri: definitely

Montana: comma

Nebraska: delicious

Nevada: appreciate

New Hampshire: recess

New Jersey: grey

New Mexico: patience

New York: bougie

North Carolina: beautiful

North Dakota: independence

Ohio: favorite

Oklahoma: February

Oregon: phenomenal

Pennsylvania: pneumonia

Rhode Island: message

South Carolina: beautiful

South Dakota: jewelry

Tennessee: intelligent

Texas: beautiful

Utah: important

Vermont: benefit

Virginia: beautiful

Washington: grey

West Virginia: eleven

Wisconsin: opinion

Wyoming: tear

spelling

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