That’s right, the Yiddish word for “matzo ball” was the key ingredient in 13-year-old Arvind Mahankali’s victory at the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
It’s likely that the young New Yorker has eaten at least one of these popular dumplings often found in chicken soup served up in city delis.
A four-time Bee competitor and the first boy in five years to win, Mahankali takes home the $30,000 prize, an enormous trophy, and some major bragging rights.
Mahankali, of Bayside, Queens, finished third in both 2011 and 2012, having been tripped up by words of German origin. Not so this year. (Knaidel is a derivation of the German word for dumpling, Knödel
This was also his last spelling bee; this summer, he wants to start concentrating on physics.
In the nail-biting final, the last 10 competitors had trouble handling words with a schwa—an unstressed vowel sound (like the a
) that any vowel can make.
This year also saw a slight twist in the contest, with contestants asked to take a vocabulary test in the early rounds.
Think you’ve got the chops to spell? Here are 20 exceedingly tough words the competitors faced:
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