WASHINGTON, D.C. – For the first time in the history of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, all 291 of the country’s best young spellers were eliminated in last night’s finals after failing to spell dysdiadochokinesia. As a result, there will be no champion crowned in 2017.
Nine-year-old Timothy Jones agreed when it was his turn. “Say what?!” he responded. He asked for the word of origin, to which the judges responded “Neurology.” Flustered, Jones gave up and walked off the stage in defeat.
Dysdiadochokinesia refers to the inability for a patient on neurologic exam to perform rapid, alternating movements. 98% of health care professionals – including those in the fields of neurology, neurosurgery, and neuroscience – cannot spell it either.
The young contestants, whose ages range from 6-years old to 15-years old, begged the judges for alternate medical terms, even something like hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) or pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. Some contestants were even willing to chance spelling metoprolol, even though it carried a high risk for aspiration and subsequent intubation.
Looks like we’ll have to wait until 2018 to find a Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion.