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                          "Famous" Semantics Words
                                    2019- 2020
            
kerf       (kuhrf)    n.    [<English]
             
           a notch or groove, especially one made by a saw or cutting torch
           
                  Roger’s toy race track has a wide kerf along which little cars move.
                 
                       (On the City Written spelling test in 2016 and the
                        Colorado State Spelling Bee written test in 1975.)
 

vitiate       (VISH-ee-ayt)    v.    [<Latin]
             
                     to make incomplete or defective;
                     to injure the quality or substance of
           
           Freddie argued that Clark’s poor acting abilities would vitiate the school play.
                 
              (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1953 and in Paideia in 2006 -
               Thumbs Up & Thumbs Down.  The word misspelled by Jacob Durso-Sabina
               of Morey Middle School when he finished runner-up at the 2011 Colorado
               State Spelling Bee.  On the City Written spelling test in 2019.)
  
Scaramouche       (SKER-uh-moosh)    n.    [<French<Italian]
             
                      a cowardly buffoon; a rascal; a scamp; a ne’er-do-well
           
                     In a 1921 historical novel by Richard Sabatini, a young lawyer during
                     the French Revolution plays the part of Scaramouche in a play.  
                 
          (Originally Scaramouche was a stock character in commedia dell’arte, an Italian
            comedy production during the 16th to 18th centuries.  He was usually a foil to
            Harlequin or other more likable characters.  In the 1952 movie Scaramouche
            he was played by swashbuckling swordsman Stewart Granger.  During July 2017
            Anthony Scaramucci, the White House communications director was hired and
            fired by President Donald Trump.  The press noted striking similarities between
            Scaramucci’s conduct in office and the traits of Scaramouche the literary figure.
            Submitted by Albertine Gingrass, 7th grader at Denver School of the Arts.)
   
kelpies       (KELP-eez)    n. pl.    [?<Scottish Gaelic]
             
                       water spirits in Scottish folklore said to delight
                       in the drowning of travelers
           
                  If you’re playing golf in Scotland this summer watch out for the kelpies.
                 
                             (On the City Written spelling test in 2019.)
  
unau       (OO-naw)    n.    [<French<?Tupi]
             
                  a two-toed sloth of Central and South America
           
              The unau usually feeds on leaves but sometimes eats fruit, nuts, or berries.
                  
                         (First appeared in Paideia in 1997 - Mammals.
                          On the City Written test in 1986 and 1997.)
 
shubunkin       (shoo-BUNGK-uhn)    n.    [<Japanese]
             
                               a goldfish
           
                          Allison added a shubunkin to her aquarium and named it Nemo.
  
                                        (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1980 and then in
                                         the new Words of the Champions list put out by Scripps in 2019.)
 
Xanadu       (ZAN-uh-doo)    n.    [<English poetic name]
             
                         an idyllic, exotic, or luxurious place
           
                   Carrie told her friends that Bali was just the Xanadu she had hoped for.
                 
                 (Xanadu first appeared in Samuel Coleridge’s 1816 poem Kubla Khan.
                   It appeared in the lines:  "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
                                                         a stately pleasure-dome decree."
                   Coleridge’s fantastic description of an exotic utopia fired public imagination
                   ultimately contributing to Xanadu being a general term for an idyllic place. 
                   On the Colorado State written test in 1995.)
 
paraph       (PER-uhf)    n.    [<Greek]
             
                      a flourish on a signature
           
                 Debra signs her name with an elaborate paraph ending with a smiley face.
                 
                  (The paraph was originally used as a sort of safeguard against forgery.
                    First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1994.  On the Colorado State
                    written test in 2003.)
 
concierge       (kohn-SYERZH)    n.    [<French<Latin]
             
                  an attendant at the entrance of a building; a door keeper
           
         The concierge took note of the mysterious man’s comings and goings at the hotel.
                 
              (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1970 and in Paideia in 1996 -
               Making a Living.  On the Colorado State Spelling Bee written test in 2002.)
 
rappelled       (ruh-PELD)    v.    [<French<Latin]
   
                          descended a cliff by means of a rope
  
                   Simon pushed off with his feet as he rappelled down the precipice.
    
             (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1986 and in Paideia in 1996 -
               On the Move.  On the City Written spelling test in 1997 and 2001.)
 
a cappella        (aw-kuh-PEL-uh)    adv.    [<Italian]
  
                       without musical accompaniment, said of vocal groups
  
                                The choir sang the chants a cappella.
  
scalene        (skay-LEEN)    adj.    [<Greek]
    
                       having unequal sides, said of a triangle
   
                          The boat’s sail was in the form of a scalene triangle.
    
                    (On the Scripps National Spelling Bee written test in 2009.)
      

saurian      
(SOHR-ee-uhn)    adj.    [<Latin<Greek]
             
                          resembling a lizard
           
             The ichthyosaur was a saurian marine reptile of the Mesozoic period.
                 
             (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1953.  On
               the Colorado State Spelling Bee written test in 1965.)
 
vichyssoise       (VISH-ee-swawz)    n.    [<French]
             
                        a thick, cold soup made from onions and potatoes
           
         When vichyssoise is well made it’s heavenly, but when badly made it’s inedible.
                 
            (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1968.  On the Colorado State
             Spelling Bee written test in 2008 and the Scripps National written test in 2016.)
 
obeisance       (oh-BAY-suhnts)    n.    [<English<French<Latin]
  
                           an attitude of respect; deference; homage
 
                         Josh demonstrated his obeisance for the famous professor
                           by writing down her every word.
  
                       (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1953.  On the Colorado
                          State Spelling Bee written test in 1961, 1985, and 2001.)

  
ungetatable        (un-get-AT-uh-buhl)    adj.    [<Old Norse + <English]
    
                               hard to reach; inaccessible
   
              The high winds made the peak
of the mountain ungetatable for the climbers.
  
                                                (On the new Words of the Champions study list put out by
                                                 Scripps in 2019.  On the City Written spelling test in 2020.)
   
reincarnation        (ree-in-kawr-NAY-shuhn)   n.    [<Latin]
 
                               rebirth of the soul in a new human body
   
                                      Belief in reincarnation is characteristic of the Asian
                                       religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism.
    
                                      (First appeared in Paideia in 2002 - Prefixes Rule!)
     
commorients        (kuh-MOHR-ee-uhnts)    n. pl.    [<Latin]
   
                               a number of people perishing at the
                               same time by the same calamity
   
                              Seven commorients belonging to the same family were
                                 among those tragically killed in the airplane crash.
    
                        (On the new Words of the Champions study list put out by Scripps in 2019.
)
  
malaprop        (MAL-uh-prawp)    n.    [<Mrs. Malaprop, a character
                                       noted for the misuse of words in the 1775
                                           comedy, The Rivals, by R. B. Sheridan]
    
              an example of malapropism, the unintentionally humorous misuse
              or distortion of a word (examples: "neon stockings" or "polo bears")
 
                                   "Jesus healing the leopards" is an example of a malaprop.
    
                                   (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1955
                                     and in Paideia in 1997 - Literary Terms.
          
cupola      
(KYOO-puh-luh)    n.    [<Italian<Latin]
 
                         a dome on a roof
  
                           A cupola on a railroad caboose serves as an observation post.
    
                  (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1955 and then in the
                    new Words of the Champions study list put out by Scripps in 2019.
                    First appeared in Paideia in 2005 - Little Words.)


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