Prepare with Prefixes + Hilarious Spelling Words!

Hello to all the busy bees out there!

Can you believe we are less than a month away from the Tokyo Spelling Bee? We are so excited to have everyone joining us soon. Are you looking forward to the competition?

For this week's blog post, we'd like to share with competitors some of the most common prefixes and suffixes found in the English language, as well as their meanings. We'd also like to share some of the strangest and silliest words ever used at the Scripps National Spelling Bee!


To recap from last week, "prefixes are letters which we add to the beginning of a word to make a new word with a different meaning", according to the Cambridge Dictionary. While many online resources identify anywhere between 10 to 35 prefixes as being the most common, there are many, many more prefixes in English! In fact, The Oxford Reference Guide to English Morphology identifies over 100 prefixes used in English.


According to Cambridge Dictionary, a suffix is "a letter or group of letters added at the end of a word which makes a new word." As mentioned last week, suffixes often change words from one part of speech to another. For example, the adjective "happy" can become an adverb if we add the suffix "-ly". A verb like "forget" can transform into an adjective if we add "-ful" to the end of it.

Here are some additional resources for students studying prefixes and suffixes:

My Word is What? Silly and Interesting Words from the Scripps National Spelling Bee

Think you've heard it all? Think again! Every year, the world's top spellers encounter a huge variety of strange, unknown, and sometimes silly words they have never heard before! Here are a few of our favorites from previous years:

  • Sardoodledom. A sardoodledom, of English origin, is a "mechanically contrived plot structure and stereotyped or unrealistic characterization in drama". When a competitor was given this word, it caused him (and the audience) to laugh uncontrollably!

  • Euonym. A euonym is "a name well suited to the person, place, or thing named". This word was given to Rebecca Sealfon, 1997 champion of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and she was so excited that she decided to SCREAM the entire word to the judges!

  • Stromuhr. This may look like a keysmash, but actually it is "a medical instrument that determines the amount of blood flowing through a vein or artery", and it was the champion word for the 2010 competition!

  • Gesellschaft. (Did someone sneeze?) This is a word used to describe "social relationships based on duty or obligation, not camaraderie", from the 2016 competition. According to Reader's Digest, it should be pronounced “guh-zell-shawft”. Can you guess this word's origin?

  • Knaidel. A knaidel is "a type of dumpling eaten in Jewish households during Passover", and was the champion word of the 2013 spelling bee. It's language of origin is German-derived Yiddish, and while Arvind Mahankali spelled it correctly, Yiddish language experts disagreed with Scripps spelling of the word, arguing it is correctly spelled kneydl!

Here's Arvind himself enjoying a delicious knaidel/kneydl (you may also hear people call them "matzo balls"!)

Finally, for those who have yet to register, we continue to encourage you, your friends and classmates to do so soon! The 3rd/4th grade, as well as 5th/6th grade, competitions are filling up quickly. We're looking for more competitors to fill our 7th/8th grade competition. If you know someone at your school, in your neighborhood or in your after-school activities, who might be interested, consider inviting them to join the competition! You can find the link to register here.

Next week, we'd love to cover topics that interest our competitors. If you'd like to see something specific, please fill out our Google Form and we'll get to it!

Until next time!