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Group Spellers

group of flying bees
No. of Players: 3+
Type of Game: spoken
What you need: dictionary


To spell words with each player contributing one letter at a time.

How to play

Players sit in a circle. The gamemaster selects a word from the dictionary, gives its definition, and puts it into a sentence (this is particularly important in cases of homonyms and other potentially confusing words). Once any possible confusion is cleared up, the player to the left of the gamemaster gives the first letter of the word. The player to that player’s left then gives the second letter. And so on, clockwise round the circle. Any player who makes a mistake or hesitates longer than, say, five seconds, is out of the game. The gamemaster gives additional words until only one player is left. That player then becomes the gamemaster for the next round. The player who becomes the gamemaster the most times is the overall game champion.

This game is similar to Spelling Bee and Reverse Spelling Bee.


Andrew is elected to be the first gamemaster.

Andrew: The first word is absence which is the state of not being present. Everyone good?
Everyone: Yes!
Andrew: Baxter, you start us off.
Baxter: A
Claire: B
Darlene: S
Edward: E
Baxter: N
Claire: um... S?
Andrew: Wrong. It's C, then E. You're out. Next word is...

And so on.

Did you know?

While there were sporadic spelling competitions as far back as the early 1800s, the annual National Spelling Bee as we know it today only started in 1925.

red gladiolus flower   purple gladiolus flower   yellow gladiolus flower

The winning word that year was gladiolus, a flowering plant in the iris family – spelled correctly by 11 year old Frank Neuhauser of Kentucky who won $500 and a trip to the White House to meet President Calvin Coolidge. But before you laugh at such a paltry amount, know that $500 in 1925 is roughly $8,000 in 2021.

small pile of gold coins

Morevoer, given that Frank's actual winnings were paid in gold pieces, and gold was $20 an ounce back then versus today's price of nearly $2,000 an ounce, that's a payout of around $50,000. Not a bad haul for the young lad!

Interestingly, some winning words of the National Spelling Bee don't seem to be all that hard. Consider these three: (hover over the words for their definitions)

Knack (1928)
Therapy (1940)
Initials (1941)

But how many people can spell these words correctly?

Eudaemonic (1960)
Staphylococci (1987)
Autochthonous (2004)
Cymotrichous (2011)
Scherenschnitte (2015)

Thank goodness for spell check!

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