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                               "Famous" Semantics Words
                                  2009 - 2010
            
connoisseur        (kawn-uh-SUHR)    n.    [<French<Latin]
   
                              one who has expert knowledge and keen
                              discrimination, especially in the fine arts
    
                              "Considered a connoisseur of fine dining, Mrs. Newport
                                writes a restaurant column for her local newspaper.
                  
             (On the World Almanac’s list of commonly misspelled words.  The
              most frequently used word on National Spelling Bee word lists.)
                        
ullage        (UHL-ij)    n.    [<English<French<Latin]
    
                    the amount that a container (as a cask or tank)
                     lacks of being full; outage
   
                            By the amount of ullage in this canteen I can tell that
                            you were quite thirsty.
   
                       (A championship round word at the 2008 National Spelling Bee.)
   
pyrrhotism        (PIR-uh-tiz-uhm)    n.    [<Greek]
     
                         the condition or characteristics of having red hair
    
                                    Pyrrhotism in humans might be a recessive characteristic,
                                    but you can tell from their freckles that all five Anderson
                                    children must have inherited it.
    
recalcitrant        (ri-KAL-suh-truhnt)    adj.    [<Latin]
   
                              obstinately defiant of authority; hard to manage 
  
                                        Tommy is a recalcitrant teenager who does
                                        nothing anybody asks him to.
  
                              (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1953, in PAIDEIA
                                in 1996 - Synonyms & Antonyms, and in Spell It! in 2007 -
                                Words from Latin.  On the Colorado State Written Test in 1961
                                and the City Written Spelling Test in 2009.)
         
guerdon        (GUHR-duhn)    n.    [<English<French<Latin]
   
                        something that one has earned or gained;
                        a reward, recompense, or requital
  
                                  To get soldiers to aid in the invasion, William the
                                   Conqueror offered a guerdon to many a volunteer.
  
                              (The winning word for Sameer Mishra of Lafayette, Indiana,
                               when he won the 2008 National Spelling Bee.)
  
sudoku        (soo-DOH-koo)    n.    [<Japanese]
      
                      a popular logic puzzle, the goal of which is to fill every
                      square of a 9 x 9 grid with a number from 1 to 9 so that
                      each row, column, and 3 x 3 box contains only one
                      instance of each number
      
                              After ten minutes on the daily sudoku puzzle, Paul noticed that
                              he had two "6s" in the fourth row, and had to erase and start over.
     
                          (The modern puzzle was invented by an American architect, Howard
                           Garns, in 1979 and published by Dell Magazines under the name
                           "Number Place."  It became popular in Japan in 1986 after it was
                           published by Nikoli Co. Ltd. and given the trademarked name sudoku,
                           meaning single number.  It became an international hit in 2005.)
     
vexillology        (veks-uh-LAWL-uh-jee)    n.    [<Latin + Ecf]
 
                            the study of flags
    
                                One versed in vexillology knows that Colorado’s flag has a red
                                "C" enclosing a yellow circle on a blue and white background.
              
                                (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1978.
                                 On the 1977 Colorado State Written Spelling Test.)
         
vinaigrette        (vin-uh-GRET)    n.    [<French]  
     
                        a sauce made typically of vinegar, oil, onions, parsley,
                        and herbs, and used especially on cold meats and fish
      
                                 The salad was dressed with a tomato-flavored vinaigrette.
  
                        (First appeared in PAIDEIA in 1997 - What’s For Lunch?  Appeared
                         on the Colorado State Written Spelling Test in 1982 and 1983. )
       
catawampus        (KAD-uh-wawm-puhs), (KAD-ee-wawm-puhs)   adj.  
                                                        [?by folk etymology <catercorner]
      
                                 askew; awry; cater-cornered; diagonal
      
                                     The gas station is located catawampus to the grocery store.
  
                                       (Also spelled "catawampous.")
               
phocine        (FOH-syn)    adj.    [<Latin<Greek + Ecf]
      
                        of or relating to seals; seal-like
      
                                  Having limbs modified into webbed flippers for
                                   swimming is a phocine characteristic.
       
                             (On the 2010 City Written Spelling Test.)
       
bellwether        (BEL-weth-uhr)    n.  [<English + <English]
         
                              a leader; one that takes the initiative
        
                                      Major Evans is distinguished for his outstanding
                                      service as a bellwether bomber pilot.
      
                                 (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1962.  On the
                                  Colorado State Written Spelling Test in 1976 and 1983.)
              
ahi        (AW-hee)    n.    [<Hawaiian]
       
                   tuna; the Pacific yellowfin tuna
     
                       Ahi is a major food and sport fish of the Hawaiian Islands.
                 
thuggee        (THUH-gee)    n.    [<Hindi<Sanskrit]
    
                         murder and robbery by thugs
      
                            The practice of thuggee may have been  a response to British
                                imperialism during the 1800s.
                    
                            (Thuggee groups practie large scale robbery and murder of travelers
                             in India from the 17th to the 19th century.  Typically thugs would
                             pretend to befriend travelers until they could be robbed and strangled
                             in a safe place.  Thuggee groups are depicted in the 1984 film Indiana
                             Jones and the Temple of Doom.  Thuggee was the word missed by Rachel
                             Roe of Cole Jr. High at the 1977 Colorado State Spelling Bee.  In 2009
                             Rachel was the semantics coach at Martin Luther King Early College.)
           
spelunking        (spuh-LUNGK-ing)    n.    [<English<French + Ecf]
       
                                    the hobby or practice of exploring caves
       
                          On the weekends Jeff and his friends go spelunking in the foothills.
      
ciao        (chou)    interjection    [<Italian]
      
                 "hello" or "goodbye"
     
                  Instead of "goodbye," "adios," or "see ya," Barry always says, "ciao!"
   
                    (On the 2007 National Spelling Bee written test.)
          
portcullis        (pohrt-KUL-uhs)    n.    [<English<French]
     
                       a large grating of iron bars or heavy timbers suspended
                       by chains over the gateway of a fortified place and lowered
                       between grooves to prevent passage
    
                               The guard quickly lowered the portcullis after the king
                               and his knights rode through the gate.
    
                              (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1993
                                and in PAIDEIA in 2000 - The Round Table.)
    
psychobabble        (SY-koh-bab-uhl)    n.    [<Greek + <English]
      
                                 talk or writing that uses psychological terms
                                 and concepts is a trite or superficial way
     
                                Professor Reynold’s lectures are so full of psychobabble
                                that I really don’t think she knows what she’s talking about.
  
                          Examples:  dysfunctional, holistic, meaningful relationship, psychosis,
                                           self-actualization, delusion, co-dependent, denial, synergy,
                                           multiple personality disorder
   
                                          (Appears in How to Spell Like a Champ, p. 89)
                                                         
lipogram        (LIP-uh-gram)    n.    [<Greek]
      
                         writing composed of words not having a certain letter
     
                     A lipogram is a kind of "writing with constraints" that consists of full
                     paragraphs or books in which a particular symbol, such as that fifth
                     symbol of Latin’s script (which is most common in writing) is missing. 
                     An author of this kind of lipogram must submit to an awful handicap,
                     allowing only consonants and A, I, O, U, and Y.
   
                          (Note:  the sentences above are examples of writing without the
                           letter "e."  The Odyssey of Tryphiodorus had no alpha in the first
                           book, no beta in the second book, and so on.  Appears in How to
                           Spell Like a Champ, pgs. 200, 219.  On the Colorado State Written
                           Test in 1988.)
             
cruciverbalist        (kroo-suh-VUHRB-uh-luhst)    n.   
                                                                               [<Latin + <Latin + <English]
     
                                  a person skillful in creating or solving
                                     crossword puzzles
    
                                           The New York Times Sunday crossword is the
                                            clever creation of cruciverbalist.
    
                                            (On the 2010 City Written Spelling Test.)
      
humuhumunukunukuapuaa        n.    [<Hawaiian]
      
                 (hoo-muh-HOO-muh-noo-kuh-NOO-kuh-aw-puh-WAW-aw)   
     
                                  a small Hawaiian triggerfish
    
                                    A humuhumunukunukuapuaa can grow up to 18
                                    inches in length and it sleeps on its side at night.
    
                                  (Title song in the movie High School Musical 2.  Until 1990
                                    it was the official state fish of Hawaii.  Voted a favorite word
                                    by the spellers at the 2009 National Spelling Bee.  On the
                                    2010 City Written Spelling Test.)
     


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