Word of the Day: Boustrophedon?

Nov 8, 2018

A crowd cried out in shock as the word “Googol” appeared on a screen, and again as it was revealed that, somehow, multiple people had spelled the word correctly.

The word was the twelfth in a nail-biting round at the Dartmouth Education Foundation’s Annual Spelling Bee. The remaining teams, The Spellebrities and the Bee Keepers, were so tightly matched that announcer Pete Brailey had to go into the back-up store of extra hard words.

The final word of the round was fulguration, which is the name of a medical procedure where tissue is destroyed by heat. The Spellebrities got it right.

Thirty teams of three people each competed in the Spelling Bee, many decked out in costume to match their team name.

The competition is for a good cause, as DEF Chair Lara Stone explained. The roughly $16,000 raised by the competition will go to teachers through a grant program that funds everything from new technology to old favorites, like puppets.

“This is our main fundraising event that allows us to raise money to give back to teachers,” Stone said. “It’s just a really good family night.”

This year, the event also included games ahead of the competition and many raffles for prizes like a Mirasol’s gift basket and gift card and a pair of Bruins tickets.

The teams competed in five rounds before a championship round of the previous winners. The final round with winning teams Spellebrities, the Badd Spellurs, the Wannabees, Wendy’s Foreign Language Lovers, and the Worker BEEs was especially intense. Unlike prior rounds, where words started relatively easy and became progressively more difficult, the Championship round started hard and got harder.

The final word was boustrophedon, which means from left to right and from right to left in alternate lines. It was spelled correctly by the Wannabees, securing their second consecutive win.

Team members Heidi Eastman, Smita Bala, and Aditya Bala credit their strong team members with the win.

“I’ve just always loved spelling,” said Eastman.

One of Smita Bala’s strengths is her love of crossword puzzles.

“I do the crossword with my mother in India everyday,” Bala said. She and her mother complete The Guardian Quick crossword by phone every morning.

Eastman said one of her tricks for Spelling Bee success is a cup of tea beforehand. She and Bala both said that paying attention to the phonetics of a word is a key to spelling success.