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NY Times Spelling Bee


I recently wrote that <a href="{app}/view_article.php?id=3964">Kath and I have a one-year streak going</a> in the NYT Crossword Puzzle. While that is still ongoing, we've also recently discovered a little gem called <a href="" source="New York Times">Spelling Bee</a>. The concept is elegant and simple: <ul> 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)<fn> The puzzle rates your performance with "good", "nice", "great", "awesome", and, finally, "genius"<fn> (You can click your progress indicator to see how many points are required for each level.) There is <i>always</i> a pangram (a word that uses all of the letters) </ul> You can check your word list against the master word list only on the next day, which is kind of nice and zen. <h>Spelling Bee Solver</h> <hl>Update: January 2021</hl> You can get some hints about the kinds of answers in the puzzle from the <a href="">Spelling Bee Solver</a>. It shows how many words there are that start with each letter, tells you how many pangrams there are, and how many total words and points. There's even a matrix with starting letters in the rows and number of letters in the columns. This is super-helpful and makes it a bit more fun when you're just spinning your wheels and not seeing any words anymore. A lot of times, it just helps to know that there are two more four-letter words starting with "C"---and then they just <i>pop out</i> when you'd just spent ten minutes, scouring the puzzle and not seeing anything at all. <h>Queen Bee</h> There is a level beyond genius called "Queen Bee"---and we finally got one. <img attachment="adjourn_queenbee.png" align="none" caption="Pangram = Adjourn"> We've since gotten Queen Bee quite a few times---a handful of times with no help whatsoever, but a lot more when consulting the matrix in the solver mentioned above. <h>Samples</h> Here are a couple of games that we've completed, just to show off. <div style="display: grid; grid-template-columns: repeat(auto-fill, 200px); grid-gap: 10px"><div> <img attachment="balcony.png" caption="Balcony"> </div><div> <img attachment="forthwith.png" caption="Forthwith"> </div><div> <img attachment="glandular.png" caption="Glandular"> </div><div> <img attachment="illegibility.png" caption="Illegibility"> </div><div> <img attachment="lavatory.png" caption="Lavatory"> </div><div> <img attachment="unnaturally.png" caption="Unnaturally"> </div></div> <h>Now, the bad news</h> 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<fn> 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 <a href="">Free Dictionary</a>. While not exactly <i>common</i>, these are all non-archaic words that are not proper nouns. Those that are <i>chiefly British</i> (e.g. <i>demobbed</i>) might be understandable as "too rare" were the puzzle not to regularly include incredibly obscure references to fish and fruit species. There isn't really much consistency on what is considered a proper noun or what is considered "rare". <div style="display: grid; grid-gap: 10px; grid-template-columns: repeat(auto-fill, 240px);"><div> <img attachment="adit.png"> <div> <a href="">adit</a>: An almost horizontal entrance to a mine. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="alee.png"> <div> <a href="">alee</a>: Away from the wind </div> </div><div> <img attachment="alembic.png"> <div> <a href="">alembic</a>: An apparatus consisting of two vessels connected by a tube, formerly used for distilling liquids. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="amah.png"> <div> <a href="">amah</a>: A housemaid or children's nurse, especially in East Asia and Southeast Asia. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="anil.png"> <div> <a href="">anil</a>: An indigo plant or the blue dye obtained from it. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="appel.png"> <div> <a href="">appel</a>: A quick stamp of the foot used in fencing as a feint to produce an opening. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="arity.png"> <div> <a href="">arity</a>: The number of arguments or operands taken by a function or operator </div> </div><div> <img attachment="badonkadonk.png"> <div> <a href="">badonkadonk</a>: buttocks; booty; an extremely curvaceous female behind </div> </div><div> <img attachment="becalm.png"> <div> <a href="">becalm</a>: To render motionless for lack of wind; to make calm or still; soothe </div> </div><div> <img attachment="bedamn.png"> <div> <a href="">bedamn</a>: To curse thoroughly </div> </div><div> <img attachment="betel.png"> <div> <a href="">betel</a>: A vine or nut </div> </div><div> <img attachment="betitle.png"> <div> <a href="">betitle</a>: To bestow a name upon something </div> </div><div> <img attachment="biddy.png"> <div> <a href="">biddy</a>: A hen; A fowl; A woman, especially an older one who is extremely talkative. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="bimbo.png"> <div> <a href="">bimbo</a>: A person, esp a foolish one </div> </div><div> <img attachment="bint.png"> <div> <a href="">bint</a>: A derogatory term for girl, woman </div> </div><div> <img attachment="bokeh.png"> <div> <a href="">bokeh</a>: The effect of blurriness in the areas of an image that fall outside a photograph's depth of field </div> </div><div> <img attachment="boolean.png"> <div> <a href="">boolean</a>: Of or relating to a logical combinatorial system treating variables, such as propositions and computer logic elements, through the operators AND, OR, NOT, and XOR </div> </div><div> <img attachment="bole.png"> <div> <a href="">bole</a>: Tree trunk </div> </div><div> <img attachment="bytecode.png"> <div> <a href="">bytecode</a>: A form of instruction set designed for efficient execution by a software interpreter </div> </div><div> <img attachment="cahoot.png"> <div> <a href="">cahoot</a>: A business partnership. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="calcite.png"> <div> <a href="">calcite</a>: A common crystalline form of natural calcium carbonate, CaCO3, that is the basic constituent of limestone, marble, and chalk. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="calif.png"> <div> <a href="">calif</a>: A leader of an Islamic polity, regarded as a successor of Muhammad and by tradition always male. (Also: <i>califf</i> or <i>caliph</i>) </div> </div><div> <img attachment="camelia.png"> <div> <a href="">camelia</a>: Any of several shrubs or small evergreen trees having solitary white or pink or reddish flowers </div> </div><div> <img attachment="celtic.png"> <div> <a href="">celtic</a>: Of, relating to, or characteristic of the Celts or the Celtic languages </div> </div><div> <img attachment="chink.png"> <div> <a href="">chink</a>: A narrow opening, such as a crack or fissure. (presumably not recognized because the snowflakes think it could only be a slur for Chinese person.) </div> </div><div> <img attachment="cloacal.png"> <div> <a href="">cloacal</a>: 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 </div> </div><div> <img attachment="cope.png"> <div> <a href="">cope</a>: To contend with difficulties and act to overcome them </div> </div><div> <img attachment="craic.png"> <div> <a href="">craic</a>: Irish vernacular for "fun", e.g. "when I'm at the pub with the lads, we always have a good craic." </div> </div><div> <img attachment="cunt.png"> <div> <a href="">cunt</a>: Used as a disparaging term for a person one dislikes or finds extremely disagreeable. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="dado.png"> <div> <a href="">dado</a>: A rectangular groove cut into a board so that a like piece may be fitted into it. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="decile.png"> <div> <a href="">decile</a>: Any of the groups that result when a frequency distribution is divided into ten groups of equal size. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="demobbed.png"> <div> <a href="">demobbed</a>: Demobilization of armed forces </div> </div><div> <img attachment="donator.png"> <div> <a href="">donator</a>: A person who gives to a charity or cause </div> </div><div> <img attachment="donator.png"> <div> <a href="">donator</a>: A person who gives to a charity or cause </div> </div><div> <img attachment="edaphic.png"> <div> <a href="">edaphic</a>: Of or relating to soil, especially as it affects living organisms. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="egyptology.png"> <div> <a href="">egyptology</a>: The study of the culture and artifacts of the ancient Egyptian civilization. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="enceinte.png"> <div> <a href="">enceinte</a>: Pregnant. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="enzian.png"> <div> <a href="">enzian</a>: A plant from the gentian family </div> </div><div> <img attachment="faff.png"> <div> <a href="">faff</a>: A thing that is awkward or time-consuming to do; to dither or fuss (also, <i>faffing about</i> </div> </div><div> <img attachment="fain.png"> <div> <a href="">fain</a>: ready; willing; happy </div> </div><div> <img attachment="fairing.png"> <div> <a href="">fairing</a>: An auxiliary structure or the external surface of a vehicle, such as an aircraft, that serves to reduce drag. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="flatulate.png"> <div> <a href="">flatulate</a>: To expel intestinal gasses through the anus; to fart </div> </div><div> <img attachment="geegaw.png"> <div> <a href="">geegaw</a>: a showy trifle : bauble, trinket. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="gaffing.png"> <div> <a href="">gaff</a>: A metal hook fastened to a pole; to cheat; fleece; harsh treatment or criticism (also, <i>gaffing</i>) </div> </div><div> <img attachment="gigged.png"> <div> <a href="">gigged</a>: to have done a job, esp a single booking for a musician </div> </div><div> <img attachment="gilet.png"> <div> <a href="">gilet</a>: A vest or bodice </div> </div><div> <img attachment="gnomon.png"> <div> <a href="">gnomon</a>: The piece jutting from the center of a sundial </div> </div><div> <img attachment="gonif.png"> <div> <a href="">gonif</a>: A thief, scoundrel, or rascal. (also <i>ganef</i>) </div> </div><div> <img attachment="gorily.png"> <div> <a href="">gorily</a>: In a gory manner </div> </div><div> <img attachment="gypped.png"> <div> <a href="">gypped</a>: Defrauded or swindled </div> </div><div> <img attachment="hemophage.png"> <div> <a href="">hemophage</a>: A cell that destroys red blood cells by phagocytosis. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="huck.png"> <div> <a href="">huck</a>: To throw or toss. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="ichor.png"> <div> <a href="">ichor</a>: The blood of the Gods (<hl>As of February 2021, this word is now accepted.</hl>) </div> </div><div> <img attachment="immanent.png"> <div> <a href="">immanent</a>: innate, inborn, intrinsic </div> </div><div> <img attachment="inline.png"> <div> <a href="">inline</a>: Incorporated into a body of text rather than placed as a separate section </div> </div><div> <img attachment="italian.png"> <div> <a href="">italian</a>: Of or relating to Italy or its people, language, or culture. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="ladyboy.png"> <div> <a href="">ladyboy</a>: The Indo-European language of the ancient Latins and Romans and the most important cultural language of western Europe until the end of the 17th century. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="lamplit.png"> <div> <a href="">lamplit</a>: Lit by a lamp. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="latin.png"> <div> <a href="">latin</a>: The Indo-European language of the ancient Latins and Romans and the most important cultural language of western Europe until the end of the 17th century. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="latina.png"> <div> <a href="">latina</a>: A woman or girl who is a member of one of the Spanish-speaking peoples of the Americas. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="lede.png"> <div> <a href="">lede</a>: The introductory portion of a news story, especially the first sentence. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="liana.png"> <div> <a href="">liana</a>: Any of various climbing, woody, usually tropical vines. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="luff.png"> <div> <a href="">luff</a>: To flap while losing wind. Used of a sail. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="molal.png"> <div> <a href="">molal</a>: Of or designating a solution that contains one mole of solute in 1 kilogram of solvent. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="nacelle.png"> <div> <a href="">nacelle</a>: A streamlined housing or tank for something on the outside of an aircraft or motor vehicle. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="nappy.png"> <div> <a href="">nappy</a>: Having a nap; fuzzy: a nappy carpet. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="nictitation.png"> <div> <a href="">nictitation</a>: The process of winking or blinking rapidly, </div> </div><div> <img attachment="nonplanar.png"> <div> <a href="">nonplanar</a>: not lying or able to be confined within a single plane : having a three-dimensional quality. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="olla.png"> <div> <a href="">olla</a>: A rounded earthenware pot or jar, used especially for cooking or for carrying water </div> </div><div> <img attachment="panamanian.png"> <div> <a href="">panamanian</a>: A native or inhabitant of Panama (which was accepted as a word, although it's a proper noun) </div> </div><div> <img attachment="pion.png"> <div> <a href="">pion</a>: Any of the three least massive mesons, having a positive, neutral, or negative electric charge </div> </div><div> <img attachment="pood.png"> <div> <a href="">pood</a>: A Russian unit of weight equivalent to about 16.4 kilograms (36.1 pounds) avoirdupois. (Used for kettle bells.) </div> </div><div> <img attachment="telic.png"> <div> <a href="">telic</a>: Directed or tending toward a goal or purpose; purposeful. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="thew.png"> <div> <a href="">thew</a>: Muscular power or strength. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="tufa.png"> <div> <a href="">tufa</a>: A soft, friable, and porous sedimentary rock consisting of calcium carbonate and formed by the evaporation of water, especially at the mouth of a hot spring or on a drying lakebed. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="tuple.png"> <div> <a href="">tuple</a>: A generalization of ordered elements in any dimension. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="vair.png"> <div> <a href="">vair</a>: A fur, probably squirrel, much used in medieval times to line and trim robes. </div> </div><div> <img attachment="villi.png"> <div> <a href="">villi</a>: A minute projection arising from a mucous membrane, especially one of the numerous vascular projections of the small intestine. (singular, <i>villus</i>) </div> </div><div> <img attachment="wadi.png"> <div> <a href="">wadi</a>: A valley, gully, or streambed in northern Africa and southwest Asia that remains dry except during the rainy season; an oasis </div> </div><div> <img attachment="wain.png"> <div> <a href="">wain</a>: The Big Dipper; A large open farm wagon </div> </div><div> <img attachment="welch.png"> <div> <a href="">welch</a>: To fail to fulfill an obligation (alternate spelling of <i>welsh</i>) </div> </div><div> <img attachment="zoonotic.png"> <div> <a href="">zoonotic</a>: Of or relating to a disease of animals that can be transmitted to humans.<fn> </div> </div> </div> <hr> <ft>I made up a thing called a "natural pangram", which uses each of the letters <i>exactly</i> once (e.g. laundry), in order to prove to Kath that my pangram was better than hers.</ft> <ft>At which point we usually stop, although we've never gotten every last one of the possible words.<fn> Being called "genius" once a day by our soon-to-be robot masters is rewarding enough.</ft> <ft>The German word <i>bodigt</i>, as in "defeated to the ground", seems to do the feeling the bare minimum of justice.</ft> <ft>Omitting <i>zoonotic</i> as "obscure" is just unconscionable and unsupportable when the word must have appeared a million times in the news over the last year, when describing the primary reason we're all sitting at home all the time doing the frickin' Spelling Bee.</ft> <ft>In the meantime, we've "cheated" with two open windows to be able to find out that there is, indeed, a final status for having found all of the words: "Queen Bee". <img src="{att_link}queen_bee.png" href="{att_link}queen_bee.png" align="none" scale="25%"> We haven't managed it for real---sometimes because we miss a word or two that should have known, but sometimes because there's a word we didn't know was a word, e.g. "footwall"---but we've gotten within one word one time. We had "knick". We had "knack". We forgot "knickknack".</ft>