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                           "Famous" Semantics Words 5
                                       2002 - 2003          
        
sockdolager        (sawk-DAWL-uh-juhr)    n.    [<unknown (?sock, to punch)]
     
                           something that ends or settles a matter; a decisive
                         blow; something or someone outstanding or exceptional
      
                               This year’s storm was a real sockdolager, tying up traffic for days.
      
               (The word "sockdolager" was the cue upon which John Wilkes Booth fired his
                shot at President Abraham Lincoln.  Lincoln was watching the play An American
                Cousin at Ford Theater.  Booth, an actor himself, knew that the line that brought
                the loudest burst of laughter from the audience was"Well, I guess I know
                enough to turn you inside out, you sockdolagizing old man-trap.") 
                        
diadem        (DY-uh-dem)    n.    [<English<French<Latin<Greek]
      
                       an ornamental headband worn as a badge of royalty
    
                           I could distinguish the Mongol’s leader by the diadem he wore.
     
                          (The winning word for Kara Miller of Hamilton Middle School when she
                            won the 2002 "City Orals" Spelling Bee.  First appeared in PAIDEIA in
                            1999 - Head To Toe.)
    
throttlebottom        (THRAW-duhl-baw-tuhm)    n.    [<fictional name
                                                      (Alexander Throttlebottom, a character in the 1932
                                                         musical Of Thee I Sing by Kaufman & Ryskind)]
      
                               an innocuously inept and futile person in public office
    
                                       The voters made a mistake when they elected Mr. Phelps,
                                       he’s just a throttlebottom.
   
Australopithecus       (aw-stray-luh-PITH-uh-kuhs)   n.   [<Latin]                     
                                     a prehistoric human-like ape known from skulls
                                     found in southern Africa
     
                                              Geologists believe that Australopithecus lived about
                                              60 million years ago.
                       
                                   (The most missed word on the 2002 City Written Spelling Test.)
                   
eyrir        (AY-rir)    n.    [<Icelandic<Old Norse]
      
                 a unit of monetary value in Iceland; a small Icelandic coin
      
                                 One eyrir is worth one hundredth of a krona.
     
                      (The winning word for the fictional character Eliza Neumann when she
                        won her school’s regional spelling bee in the 2000 novel Bee Season
                        by Myla Goldberg.)
        
ubiquitous        (yoo-BIK-wuh-tuhs)    adj.    [<Latin]
      
                          being everywhere at the same time; omnipresent
        
                                All the houses were brick, made of that ubiquitous gray mud.
   
                              (On the Colorado State Written Test in 1983 and 1988 and the
                               City Written Spelling Test in 2003.  First appeared in Words of
                               the Champions in 1953, in PAIDEIA in 2004 - It’s About Time
                               and in Spell It! in 2007 - Words from Latin.)       
     
plenipotentiary        (plen-uh-puh-TENCH-ee-er-ee)    n.    [<Latin]
       
                          a person vested wilh full power to transact any business
     
                                                A lawyer was appointed by the court to act as
                                                   plenipotentiary for the widow’s foundation.
            
                                            (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1953
                                              and in PAIDEIA in 2004 - War & Peace.)
    
sequoia        (suh-KWOI-yuh)    n.    [<Latin<Sequoya, an American Indian
                                            scholar who took the name George Guess, died 1843]
    
                          a huge coniferous tree of California; giant redwood
        
                                    A sequoia sometimes reaches the height of 360 feet.
     
                               (The shortest word in the English language to contain each
                                 of the five vowels a, e, i, o, u.)
    
zeitgeist        (TSYT-gyst), (ZYT-gyst)    n.    [<German]
                     
                       the spirit of the time; the general intellectual,
                       moral, and cultural state of an era         
  
                             The zeitgeist of the Middle Ages operated against the
                             development of pure science.
     
                             (On the Colorado State Written Spelling Test in 1988 and 1995.
                               First appeared in PAIDEIA in 2004 - It’s About Time.  Appears
                               in How to Spell Like a Champ, p. 76.)
    
avoirdupois        (av-uhr-duh-POIZ)    n.    [<French]
    
                            a system of weights in which 16 ounces = 1 pound
                            and 16 drams = 1 ounce
     
                                   Grains, ounces, drams, pounds, and tons are the basic
                                   units in our avoirdupois system of weights.
    
                                (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1953.  Appears
                                  in How to Spell Like a Champ, p. 73 and 87.  On the Colorado
                                  State Written Test in 1982.)
    
lycanthrope        (LY-kuhn-throhp)    n.    [<Latin<Greek]
                  
                             a werewolf; a person assuming the look and
                             characteristics of a wolf
   
                                  As hair sprouted all over his body and his canines enlarged,
                                  the mad scientist slowly assumed the form of a lycanthrope.
        
                                 (Runner-up Samira Kadam misspelled this word allowing Pratyush
                                  Buddiga of Colorado Springs a chance to spell it correctly and
                                  become the 2002 Colorado State Spelling Bee champion.)
      
metathesis        (muh-TATH-uh-suhs)    n.    [<Latin] 
     
                       a reversal or transposition of two speech sounds in a word
   
                             To pronounce "ask" as "aks" is an example of metathesis.
            
                                 (Metathesis is a common way in which language evolves over time.
                                  Examples are present day "bird" was "brid" in Old English and
                                  present day "wasp" was "wæps" in Old English.  First appeared in
                                  PAIDEIA in 2002 - Chemistry.)
   
tsetse        (TSEE-see), (SET-see)    n.    [<Afrikaans<Tswana]     
     
                      a fly occurring in Africa south of the Sahara Desert
    
                           Scientists found that the bite of the tsetse caused sleeping
                           sickness, a disease characterized by fever, weight loss,
                           tremors, and protracted lethargy.
    
                       (On the 1981 Colorado State Written Test.  First appeared in
                        Words of the Champions in 1968.  A tautonym--a word composed
                        of two identical parts i.e. tomtom, beriberi and muumuu.)
     
pogonotomy        (poh-guh-NAWT-uh-mee)    n.    [<Greek]
   
                                 shaving; cutting the beard
    
                                    Does a student at barber school take a course in pogonotomy?
    
                                    (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1986.  All "o’s" in
                                     pogonotomy.  On the 2012 National Spelling Bee written test.)
            
ufology        (yoo-FAWL-uh-jee)    n.    [an acronym:  unidentified flying objects
                                                                         + <Greek (-ology)]
     
                      the scientific study of unidentified flying objects
    
                      After seeing a mysterious light in the sky, I began to read up on ufology
   
                         (On the 2002 and 2014 City Written Spelling Test.)
          
dyscalculia        (dis-kal-KYOO-lee-uh)    n.    [<Latin]
       
                           impairment of mathematical ability due to an organic
                           condition of the brain
     
                                  Margaret must have dyscalculia, she can’t add two plus two.
     
                                  (On the 1999 Colorado State Written Spelling Test.)
       
cygnet        (SIG-nuht)    n.    [<Greek]
       
                         a young swan
              
                    The Ugly Duckling is a story about a cygnet that thought he was a duck.
       
                           (Has a homonym (signet).  The word missed by Roberta Bowman of
                            Kepner Jr. High when she finished second to Mary Yelenick of Christ
                            the King School at the 1968 Colorado-Wyoming Spelling Bee.)
               
jihad        (juh-HAWD), (juh-HAD)    n.    [<Arabic]
                   
                  a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty;
                  a bitter crusade undertaken in the spirit of a holy war
            
                      Experts believe that the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center
                      towers were carried out by misguided Muslims as a part of a jihad.
     
prospicience        (proh-SPISH-uhnts)    n.    [<Latin]                     
       
                               the act of looking forward; foresight 
   
                               Qualities associated with leadership usually include prospicience.
   
                              (The winning word for Pratyush Buddiga of Colorado Springs when
                               he won the 2002 National Spelling Bee in Washington, D. C.)
   
emu        (EE-myoo), (EE-moo)    n.    [<Portuguese]
     
                  a large flightless bird of Australia closely related to the ostrich
  
                     The emu is the world’s second largest bird next to the ostrich.
     
                      (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1980 and in PAIDEIA
                        in 1995 - Birds.)
                    


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