NY Times Spelling Bee
I recently wrote that Kath and I have a one-year streak going in the NYT Crossword Puzzle. While that is still ongoing, we’ve also recently discovered a little gem called Spelling Bee (New York Times). The concept is elegant and simple:
- You get seven letters arranged in a honeycomb.
- You have to combine these letters to come up with as many words with four letters or more as you can.
- The middle letter is required.
- You can repeat letters as much as you like.
- Answers can overlap one another. (E.g. “glad” and “gladly” are two separate answers).
- The longer the word, the more points you get.
- You can an extra bonus for pangrams (words that use all of the letters at least once)
- The puzzle rates your performance with “good”, “nice”, “great”, “awesome”, and, finally, “genius”
You can check your word list against the master word list only on the next day, which is kind of nice and zen.
Here are a couple of games that we’ve completed, just to show off.
Now, the bad news
Would I be reporting on this fun little game if it was all sunshine and roses? No, no, I probably wouldn’t.
You see, there are some words I’ve learned over the years, for which I’ve borne more than my share of ridicule for knowing, that the puzzle refused to acknowledge as being “in its word list”.
I was shocked and disappointed to see that certain words that I’ve kept in my back pocket, as it were, for just such a rainy day as this, were not recognized.
Proof? Of course I have proof.
The following are definitions from the Free Dictionary. While not exactly common, these are all non-archaic words that are not proper nouns.
arity: The number of arguments or operands taken by a function or operator
betel: A vine or nut
betitle: To bestow a name upon something
bokeh: The effect of blurriness in the areas of an image that fall outside a photograph’s depth of field
cloacal: Related to the common cavity that serves as the opening for the intestinal, genital, and urinary tracts in many vertebrates, including amphibians, reptiles, birds, monotremes, and some fishes
gilet: A vest or bodice
gnomon: The piece jutting from the center of a sundial
ichor: The blood of the Gods
olla: A rounded earthenware pot or jar, used especially for cooking or for carrying water
panamanian: A native or inhabitant of Panama (which was accepted as a word, although it’s a proper noun)