National Spelling Bee '12: Prelims

Words from Round 2 and 3 of the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Read more here:

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. aberrant
    markedly different from an accepted norm
  2. aioli
    garlic mayonnaise
  3. alcazar
    any of various Spanish fortresses or palaces built by the Moors
  4. alchemy
    a pseudoscientific forerunner of chemistry in medieval times
  5. alkali
    any of various water-soluble compounds capable of turning litmus blue and reacting with an acid to form a salt and water
  6. altazimuth
    an instrument that measures the altitude and azimuth of celestial bodies; used in navigation
  7. ameliorate
    to make better
  8. amniocentesis
    (pregnancy) extraction by centesis of amniotic fluid from a pregnant woman (after the 15th week of pregnancy) to aid in the diagnosis of fetal abnormalities
  9. anabolic
    of or related to the synthetic phase of metabolism
  10. anachronism
    something located at a time when it could not have existed
  11. anomaly
    deviation from the normal or common order or form or rule
  12. apartheid
    a social policy of racial segregation
  13. apparatchik
    a communist who was a member of the administrative system of a communist party
  14. arachnid
    air-breathing arthropods characterized by simple eyes and four pairs of legs
  15. arenicolous
    growing or living or burrowing in sand
  16. asana
    a posture or manner of sitting
  17. ascetic
    someone who practices self denial as a spiritual discipline
  18. auteur
    a filmmaker who has a personal style
  19. balalaika
    a stringed instrument that has a triangular body and three strings
  20. basilisk
    a serpent able to kill with its breath or glance
  21. batik
    a dyed fabric
  22. belligerent
    characteristic of an enemy or one eager to fight
  23. biliousness
    gastric distress caused by a disorder of the liver or gall bladder
  24. billabong
    a stagnant pool of water in the bed of a stream that flows intermittently
  25. blase
    nonchalantly unconcerned
  26. blitzkrieg
    a military offensive with intensive aerial bombardment
  27. Bolshevik
    a Russian member of the left-wing majority group that followed Lenin and eventually became the Russian communist party
  28. botanist
    a biologist specializing in the study of plants
  29. braggadocio
    vain and empty boasting
  30. braggart
    a very boastful and talkative person
  31. Buddha
    founder of Buddhism; worshipped as a god (c 563-483 BC)
  32. cachexia
    any general reduction in vitality and strength of body and mind resulting from a debilitating chronic disease
  33. cacophony
    loud confusing disagreeable sounds
  34. calibrate
    make fine adjustments for optimal measuring
  35. calypso
    rare north temperate bog orchid bearing a solitary white to pink flower marked with purple at the tip of an erect reddish stalk above 1 basal leaf
  36. cantankerous
    stubbornly obstructive and unwilling to cooperate
  37. cappelletti
    small circular or square cases of dough with savory fillings
  38. capricious
    determined by chance or impulse rather than by necessity
  39. cartel
    a consortium formed to limit commercial competition
  40. celebratory
    used for celebrating
  41. charlatan
    a flamboyant deceiver
  42. chassis
    the skeleton of a motor vehicle
  43. cicada
    stout-bodied insect with large membranous wings
  44. cincture
    a band of material around the waist that strengthens a skirt or trousers
  45. coati
    omnivorous mammal of Central America and South America
  46. codeine
    derivative of opium; used as an antitussive and an analgesic
  47. coloratura
    singing with florid ornamentation
  48. commensurate
    corresponding in size or degree or extent
  49. commissar
    an official of the Communist Party who was assigned to teach party principles to a military unit
  50. conquistador
    an adventurer
  51. corpuscle
    an unattached cell such as a red or white blood cell
  52. Croesus
    last king of Lydia (died in 546 BC)
  53. cubitiere
    body armor that protects the elbow
  54. cynosure
    something that provides guidance
  55. dachshund
    small long-bodied short-legged German breed of dog having a short sleek coat and long drooping ears; suited for following game into burrows
  56. debacle
    a sudden and violent collapse
  57. decile
    (statistics) any of nine points that divided a distribution of ranked scores into equal intervals where each interval contains one-tenth of the scores
  58. demantoid
    a green andradite used as a gemstone
  59. desertification
    a gradual transformation into arid, uninhabitable land
  60. detente
    the easing of tensions or strained relations
  61. dhole
    fierce wild dog of the forests of central and southeast Asia that hunts in packs
  62. dichotomy
    a classification into two opposed parts or subclasses
  63. diluent
    a diluting agent
  64. dimetrodon
    carnivorous dinosaur of the Permian in North America having a crest or dorsal sail
  65. dirigible
    a steerable self-propelled aircraft
  66. dossier
    papers containing detailed information about a person
  67. dragoon
    a member of a European military unit formerly composed of heavily armed cavalrymen
  68. duchy
    the domain controlled by a duke or duchess
  69. dystopia
    state in which the conditions of life are extremely bad
  70. Ebola
    a severe and often fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys and chimpanzees) caused by the Ebola virus; characterized by high fever and severe internal bleeding; can be spread from person to person; is largely limited to Africa
  71. ecclesiology
    the branch of theology concerned with the nature and the constitution and the functions of a church
  72. echt
    not fake or counterfeit
  73. ecru
    a very light brown
  74. ectoplasm
    the outer granule-free layer of cytoplasm
  75. edelweiss
    alpine perennial plant native to Europe having leaves covered with whitish down and small flower heads held in stars of glistening whitish bracts
  76. effendi
    a former Turkish term of respect
  77. efficacy
    capacity or power to produce a desired effect
  78. egregious
    conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible
  79. egress
    the act or means of going out
  80. eigenvalue
    (mathematics) any number such that a given square matrix minus that number times the identity matrix has a zero determinant
  81. emaciate
    grow weak and thin or waste away physically
  82. emaciated
    very thin especially from disease or hunger or cold
  83. embezzlement
    the fraudulent appropriation of funds or property
  84. Eocene
    from 58 million to 40 million years ago
  85. ephemeral
    anything short-lived, as an insect that lives only for a day
  86. epilithic
    growing on stone
  87. epistolary
    written in the form of letters or correspondence
  88. erratum
    a mistake in printed matter resulting from mechanical failures of some kind
  89. ersatz
    an artificial or inferior substitute or imitation
  90. escargot
    edible snails
  91. ethylene
    a flammable colorless gaseous alkene
  92. euphemism
    an inoffensive expression substituted for an offensive one
  93. evanesce
    disappear gradually
  94. ewer
    an open vessel with a handle and a spout for pouring
  95. exacerbate
    make worse
  96. exemplar
    something to be imitated
  97. facetious
    cleverly amusing in tone
  98. Fahrenheit
    of or relating to a temperature scale proposed by the inventor of the mercury thermometer
  99. fealty
    the loyalty that citizens owe to their country
  100. femininity
    the trait of behaving in ways considered typical for women
  101. fete
    an elaborate party, often outdoors
  102. fictile
    capable of being molded or modeled
  103. firth
    a long narrow estuary (especially in Scotland)
  104. fissiparous
    reproducing by fission
  105. flibbertigibbet
    a foolish, flighty, and overly talkative person
  106. flotsam
    the floating wreckage of a ship
  107. forage
    collect or look around for, as food
  108. fraise
    sloping or horizontal rampart of pointed stakes
  109. framboise
    the common European raspberry; fruit red or orange
  110. frangible
    capable of being broken
  111. fraught
    filled with or attended with
  112. fuchsia
    a tropical shrub with showy drooping flowers
  113. fugleman
    a leader and organizer and spokesman
  114. fuselage
    the central body of an airplane holding crew and passengers
  115. fusillade
    rapid simultaneous discharge of firearms
  116. gabbro
    one of a family of granular intrusive rocks
  117. garibaldi
    a loose high-necked blouse with long sleeves
  118. gauche
    lacking social polish
  119. gazette
    a newspaper or official journal
  120. genre
    a kind of literary or artistic work
  121. genteel
    marked by refinement in taste and manners
  122. glockenspiel
    a percussion instrument consisting of a set of metal bars
  123. googol
    a cardinal number represented as 1 followed by 100 zeros
  124. gorgonzola
    Italian blue cheese
  125. gymkhana
    a meet at which riders and horses display a range of skills and aptitudes
  126. gynarchy
    a political system governed by a woman
  127. haberdashery
    a store where men's clothes are sold
  128. habitus
    constitution of the human body
  129. halal
    conforming to dietary laws
  130. hebdomad
    any period of seven consecutive days
  131. Hemerocallis
    east Asian rhizomatous clump-forming perennial herbs having flowers on long leafless stalks; cosmopolitan in cultivation: day lilies; sometimes placed in subfamily Hemerocallidaceae
  132. hierarchy
    a series of ordered groupings within a system
  133. hilum
    the scar on certain seeds marking its point of attachment to the funicle
  134. hobbledehoy
    an awkward bad-mannered adolescent boy
  135. hollandaise
    eggs and butter with lemon juice
  136. hyacinth
    any of numerous bulbous perennial herbs
  137. hydrargyrum
    a heavy silvery toxic univalent and bivalent metallic element; the only metal that is liquid at ordinary temperatures
  138. hyperbole
    extravagant exaggeration
  139. hypocrisy
    pretending to have qualities or beliefs that you do not have
  140. ichorous
    of or resembling or characterized by ichor or sanies
  141. icosahedron
    any polyhedron having twenty plane faces
  142. idiopathic
    (of diseases) arising from an unknown cause
  143. idiosyncratic
    peculiar to the individual
  144. ignominious
    deserving or bringing disgrace or shame
  145. imaret
    a hostel for pilgrims in Turkey
  146. immolate
    offer as a sacrifice by giving up to destruction
  147. imprimatur
    formal and explicit approval
  148. indigenous
    originating where it is found
  149. indubitable
    too obvious to be doubted
  150. infinitesimal
    immeasurably small
  151. ingenue
    an artless innocent young girl
  152. innocuous
    not injurious to physical or mental health
  153. inviolable
    incapable of being transgressed or dishonored
  154. iodopsin
    a violet photopigment in the retinal cones of the eyes of most vertebrates; plays a role in daylight vision
  155. ipecac
    a medicinal drug used to evoke vomiting
  156. irascible
    quickly aroused to anger
  157. iridaceous
    of or pertaining to or characteristic of plants of the family Iridaceae
  158. irrepressible
    impossible to control
  159. jacamar
    tropical American insectivorous bird having a long sharp bill and iridescent green or bronze plumage
  160. jerboa
    mouselike jumping rodent
  161. jongleur
    a singer of folk songs
  162. julienne
    a portion of food, usually vegetables, cut into thin strips
  163. jurisprudence
    the branch of philosophy concerned with the law
  164. karaoke
    singing popular songs accompanied by a recording
  165. keeshond
    a spitz-like dog having a shaggy greyish coat and tightly curled tail originating in Holland
  166. kepi
    a cap with a flat circular top and a visor
  167. kibitzer
    (Yiddish) a meddler who offers unwanted advice to others
  168. kirtle
    a garment resembling a tunic that was worn by men in the Middle Ages
  169. kohlrabi
    plant cultivated for its enlarged fleshy turnip-shaped edible stem
  170. koto
    Japanese stringed instrument that resembles a zither
  171. Labanotation
    a system of notation for dance movements that uses symbols to represent points on a dancer's body and the direction of the dancer's movement and the tempo and the dynamics
  172. lahar
    an avalanche of volcanic water and mud down the slopes of a volcano
  173. lemming
    any of various short-tailed furry-footed rodents of circumpolar distribution
  174. lenitive
    moderating pain or sorrow by making it easier to bear
  175. liaise
    act between parties with a view to reconciling differences
  176. Limburger
    a soft white cheese with a very strong pungent odor and flavor
  177. limousine
    large luxurious car; usually driven by a chauffeur
  178. limpet
    mollusk with a low conical shell
  179. limpid
    clear and bright
  180. lineament
    the characteristic parts of a person's face
  181. litany
    any long and tedious address or recital
  182. lobscouse
    a stew of meat and vegetables and hardtack that is eaten by sailors
  183. lorikeet
    any of various small lories
  184. mahout
    the driver and keeper of an elephant
  185. maraschino
    distilled from fermented juice of bitter wild marasca cherries
  186. maraud
    raid and rove in search of booty
  187. materialize
    come into being; become reality
  188. megahertz
    one million periods per second
  189. melange
    a motley assortment of things
  190. mellifluous
    pleasing to the ear
  191. menagerie
    a collection of live animals for study or display
  192. mercerize
    treat to strengthen and improve the luster
  193. mesmerize
    attract strongly, as if with a magnet
  194. metacarpal
    of or relating to the metacarpus
  195. metier
    an occupation for which you are especially well suited
  196. mihrab
    a design in the shape of niche in a Muslim prayer rug
  197. minacious
    threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments
  198. minaret
    a slender tower with balconies, especially on a mosque
  199. misogynist
    a misanthrope who dislikes women in particular
  200. mnemonic
    of or relating to the practice of aiding the memory
  201. moorage
    the act of securing an arriving vessel with ropes
  202. moratorium
    suspension of an ongoing activity
  203. mordacious
    biting or given to biting
  204. morose
    showing a brooding ill humor
  205. motif
    a recurrent element in a literary or artistic work
  206. mozzarella
    mild white Italian cheese
  207. muishond
    southern African weasel
  208. mulligan
    Irish version of burgoo
  209. myeloma
    a tumor of the bone marrow (usually malignant) composed of cells normally found in bone marrow
  210. myriad
    a large indefinite number
  211. neonatology
    that branch of pediatric medicine concerned with the newborn
  212. neptunium
    a radioactive transuranic metallic element
  213. Nereid
    (Greek mythology) any of the 50 sea nymphs who were daughters of the sea god Nereus
  214. neuroticism
    a mental or personality disturbance not attributable to any known neurological or organic dysfunction
  215. nilpotent
    equal to zero when raised to a certain power
  216. noggin
    informal terms for a human head
  217. novillero
    a bullfighter who is required to fight bulls less than four years of age
  218. nyala
    spiral-horned South African antelope with a fringe of white hairs along back and neck
  219. ocarina
    egg-shaped terra cotta wind instrument with a mouthpiece and finger holes
  220. ocelot
    nocturnal wildcat of Central America and South America having a dark-spotted buff-brown coat
  221. oubliette
    a dungeon with a trap door in the ceiling
  222. pabulum
    any substance that can be used as food
  223. pallor
    unnatural lack of color in the skin
  224. paradigm
    a standard or typical example
  225. paronomasia
    a humorous play on words
  226. peccadillo
    a petty misdeed
  227. perestroika
    an economic policy adopted in the former Soviet Union
  228. pernicious
    exceedingly harmful
  229. pharmacology
    the science or study of drugs: their preparation and properties and uses and effects
  230. philately
    the collection and study of postage stamps
  231. philhellenism
    admiration for Greece and the Greeks and Greek customs
  232. phosphorus
    a multivalent nonmetallic element of the nitrogen family that occurs commonly in inorganic phosphate rocks and as organic phosphates in all living cells; is highly reactive and occurs in several allotropic forms
  233. phraseology
    the manner in which something is expressed in words
  234. pickelhaube
    a spiked helmet worn by German soldiers
  235. pilosity
    the quality of having hair
  236. pizzicato
    with a light plucking staccato sound
  237. pogrom
    organized persecution of an ethnic group, especially Jews
  238. poignant
    keenly distressing to the mind or feelings
  239. prosciutto
    Italian salt-cured ham usually sliced paper thin
  240. psilosis
    a chronic disorder that occurs in tropical and non-tropical forms and in both children and adults; nutrients are not absorbed; symptoms include foul-smelling diarrhea and emaciation
  241. pullet
    young hen usually less than a year old
  242. punctilio
    a fine point of etiquette or petty formality
  243. putrescible
    liable to decay or spoil or become putrid
  244. pyromaniac
    a person with a mania for setting things on fire
  245. Qatari
    of or concerning Qatar or its inhabitants
  246. qualitative
    involving distinguishing attributes
  247. quarantine
    isolation to prevent the spread of infectious disease
  248. quisling
    someone who collaborates with an enemy occupying force
  249. quotidian
    found in the ordinary course of events
  250. raconteur
    a person skilled in telling anecdotes
  251. raita
    an Indian side dish of yogurt and chopped cucumbers and spices
  252. rapport
    a relationship of mutual understanding between people
  253. recalcitrant
    stubbornly resistant to authority or control
  254. recidivist
    someone who lapses into undesirable patterns of behavior
  255. regale
    provide with choice or abundant food or drink
  256. remand
    refer (a matter or legal case) to another committee or authority or court for decision
  257. renascent
    rising again as to new life and vigor
  258. rendezvous
    a meeting planned at a certain time and place
  259. reparation
    something done or paid in expiation of a wrong
  260. repartee
    adroitness and cleverness in reply
  261. repertoire
    the range of skills in a particular field or occupation
  262. Requiem
    a Mass celebrated for the dead
  263. riant
    showing or feeling mirth or pleasure or happiness
  264. rondeau
    a musical form that is often the last movement of a sonata
  265. Rorschach
    a projective tests using bilaterally symmetrical inkblots
  266. rotogravure
    printing by transferring an image from a photogravure plate to a cylinder in a rotary press
  267. rowan
    Eurasian tree with orange-red berrylike fruits
  268. saboteur
    someone who commits sabotage or deliberately causes wrecks
  269. salaam
    a deep bow; a Muslim form of salutation
  270. sarsaparilla
    any of various prickly climbing plants of the tropical American genus Smilax having aromatic roots and heart-shaped leaves
  271. sassafras
    yellowwood tree with brittle wood and aromatic leaves and bark; source of sassafras oil; widely distributed in eastern North America
  272. sauerbraten
    pot roast marinated several days in seasoned vinegar before cooking; usually served with potato dumplings
  273. saxicolous
    growing on or living among rocks
  274. schizocarp
    a dry dehiscent fruit that at maturity splits into two or more parts each with a single seed
  275. schottische
    a German round dance resembling a slow polka
  276. scuppernong
    amber-green muscadine grape of southeastern United States
  277. segue
    proceed without interruption, in music or talk
  278. seine
    a large fishnet that hangs vertically
  279. sepia
    rich brown pigment prepared from the ink of cuttlefishes
  280. serendipity
    good luck in making unexpected and fortunate discoveries
  281. shoaly
    full of submerged reefs or sandbanks or shoals
  282. shudder
    tremble convulsively, as from fear or excitement
  283. shuddering
    shaking convulsively or violently
  284. solder
    join or fuse with an alloy
  285. soliloquy
    speech you make to yourself
  286. stratification
    forming or depositing in layers
  287. suffrutescent
    of a plant
  288. suggestible
    easily influenced or swayed by others
  289. surveillance
    close observation of a person or group
  290. syllabus
    an integrated course of academic studies
  291. symbiosis
    the relation between two interdependent species of organisms
  292. symmetrical
    exhibiting equivalence or correspondence among constituents
  293. syndicate
    an association of companies for some definite purpose
  294. tahini
    a thick Middle Eastern paste made from ground sesame seeds
  295. tamarind
    long-lived tropical evergreen tree with a spreading crown and feathery evergreen foliage and fragrant flowers yielding hard yellowish wood and long pods with edible chocolate-colored acidic pulp
  296. taupe
    a greyish brown
  297. taxonomically
    with regard to taxonomy
  298. tchotchke
    (Yiddish) an inexpensive showy trinket
  299. telegnosis
    apparent knowledge of distant events without using sensory perceptions
  300. temerity
    fearless daring
  301. tertiary
    coming third in position
  302. thanatology
    the branch of science that studies death
  303. thistle
    any of numerous plants of the family Compositae and especially of the genera Carduus and Cirsium and Onopordum having prickly-edged leaves
  304. thwartwise
    extending or lying across
  305. tokamak
    a doughnut-shaped chamber used in fusion research
  306. toreador
    someone who fights bulls
  307. tritium
    a radioactive isotope of hydrogen
  308. trophotropism
    an orienting response to food
  309. tularemia
    a highly infectious disease of rodents (especially rabbits and squirrels) and sometimes transmitted to humans by ticks or flies or by handling infected animals
  310. tungsten
    a heavy grey-white metallic element
  311. tympanum
    the main cavity of the ear
  312. ullage
    the amount that a container lacks of being full
  313. umbilicate
    depressed like a navel
  314. utile
    being of use or service
  315. vacillate
    be undecided about something
  316. vandalize
    destroy wantonly, as through acts of vandalism
  317. vaquero
    local names for a cowboy
  318. vaticination
    knowledge of the future
  319. veracity
    unwillingness to tell lies
  320. vernacular
    the everyday speech of the people
  321. vincible
    susceptible to being defeated
  322. virgule
    a punctuation mark (/) used to separate related items of information
  323. visceral
    relating to or affecting the internal organs
  324. vivace
    lively, in music
  325. waggery
    waggish behavior
  326. wearisome
    so lacking in interest as to cause mental fatigue
  327. wedel
    ski, alternating directions
  328. weir
    a low dam built across a stream to raise its level or divert its flow
  329. whortleberry
    erect European blueberry having solitary flowers and blue-black berries
  330. Wiccan
    of or relating to Wicca
  331. witticism
    a message whose ingenuity has the power to evoke laughter
  332. woad
    any of several herbs of the genus Isatis
  333. zephyr
    a slight wind
  334. zinnia
    any of various plants of the genus Zinnia cultivated for their variously and brightly colored flower heads
  335. zucchini
    marrow squash plant whose fruit are eaten when small

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