10 Very Tough Spelling Bee Words – And To Remember the Correct Spellings!

Whether you’re in a local spelling bee or competing at the national level, there are going to be some tough words that get in your way. While you might think that you know how to spell them just from how they sound, that’s not always the case. Let’s take a look at some of the toughest spelling bee words that we’ve seen from competitions, what they mean, and how you can remember to nail the correct spelling when it comes up.


Meaning: The acute inflammation of the iris and ciliary body.

Pronunciation: Ee-ruh-dow-sai-klai-tuhs

Language of Origin: English

How to Remember: When knowing that it has to do with the iris, should help with the first part of the word. Cyclitis is pertaining to the ciliary body, too, so it’s important to remember that word when preparing for a spelling bee, as well.


Meaning: A subtropical cyclone that is usually less than 100 miles in diameter and that draws energy from sources common to both the hurricane and the frontal cyclone.

Pronunciation: no̅o̅′tər kān′

Language of Origin: Latin and English

How to Remember: The first part of neutercane might throw you off because it doesn’t have anything to do with your housepets. Once you remember that, simply remember that it’s the common ‘c’ instead of the ‘k’ and you’ll be set.


Meaning: A severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons.

Pronunciation: a-sed-iss-is-um

Language of Origin: Greek

How to Remember: Because it’s Greek, you can count on the first syllable being asc, which is where he get words such as ascend. The tricky part is remembering that it’s ‘eti’ in the middle instead of ‘ete’ while the -ism at the end speaks for itself.


Meaning: A structural or behavioral characteristic peculiar to an individual or group, or a physiological or temperamental peculiarity.

Pronunciation: id-ee-o-syn-cra-see

Language of Origin: Greek

How to Remember: The idio prefix is one that comes naturally for a lot of spellers, but the syncrasy part is where many get tripped up. Remember your ‘y’ instead of the ‘i’ and that the Greek causes the ending to be spelled with an -asy instead of -isy.


Meaning: A person who writes plays.

Pronunciation: plā-rīt

Language of Origin: English

How to Remember: This one throws a lot of people off because we spell the word copyright without the ‘w’ in the middle, while also spelling copywriting and copyright. Think of the fact that it’s a writer, and it should help you realize how to spell the word with the w and without the -ite ending.


Meaning: A pain in or about the tooth.

Pronunciation: ō-ˌdän-ˈtal-j-ē-ə

Language of Origin: New Latin and Greek

How to Remember: 


Meaning: Of or pertaining to emeralds. Having the color of emeralds.

Pronunciation: Sm-uh-rag-deen

Language of Origin: New Latin and Greek

How to Remember: While the beginning and end of the word are pretty straightforward when it comes to spelling, the part where most spellers get tripped up is in the middle. Many think that it’s a ‘u’ or ‘e’ based on how they hear it in their heads, but don’t overthink it and spell it with the ‘a.’


Meaning: The yellow discoloration of the skin from abnormal causes.

Pronunciation: zanˈthōsə̇s

Language of Origin: Greek

How to Remember: The first thought that a lot of people will have with xanthosis is that it starts with a ‘z’ instead of an ‘x.’ The Greek language of origin should be a dead giveaway, though, as very few words in ancient Greek start with z. 


Meaning: The branch of zoology dealing with crustaceans.

Pronunciation: Krus-tay-see-all-oh-gee

Language of Origin: English and Latin

How to Remember: Just like with any ‘ology’ it’s all about realizing where the prefix word ends. For crustaceans, it cuts off the -ans suffix, much like virology, which cuts off the -us plural from virus. It’s all about making it into a singularity in your head.


Meaning: An ancient Hawaiian temple or sacred site.

Pronunciation: hāou

Language of Origin: Hawaiian

How to Remember: When it comes to Hawaiian, you pretty much have to be an expert as the vowels can be tricky. The phonology is different in Hawaii, so figuring out the ‘ei’ and ‘au’ sounds are paramount for spellers.

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