Blog Post

Health care words that have won spelling bees

May 30, 2014

    Juliette Mullin, Editor

    I may not be a diehard spelling champion, but I've been fascinated by the national spelling bee ever since I saw the documentary "Spellbound." The event is televised live on ESPN for a reason: It's a nail-biting competition that children in elementary and middle schools spend months intensely training for.

    Last night, a medical term bested one of the final 12 competitors in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Jamaica's Tajaun Gibbison misspelled the word "chartula," or a folded paper containing a single dose of a medicinal powder (according to Merriam Webster). The mistake landed the 13-year-old in 10th place.

    As anyone in health care knows, the industry has some of the hardest-to-spell words around.  Here are some of the medical terms that earned children their championship trophies in the last 20 years:

    2010: "stromuhr"
    Per Merriam-Webster, it is "a rheometer designed to measure the amount and speed of blood flow through an artery."
    Spelling this word correctly won Anamika Veeramani, from Cleveland, Ohio, the national championship trophy in 2010.

    2007: "serrefine"
    Per Merriam-Webster, it is "a small forceps for clamping a blood vessel."
    Spelling this word correctly won Evan M. O'Dorney, from Walnut Cree, Calif., the national championship trophy in 2007.

    2001: "succedaneum"
    Per Merriam-Webster, it is a substitute, often in reference to medicines or drugs. Moreover, "Caput succedaneum" is "an edematous swelling formed under the presenting part of the scalp of a newborn infant as a result of trauma sustained during delivery."
    Spelling this word correctly won Sean Conley, from Aitkin, Minn., the national championship trophy in 2001.

    1995: "xanthosis"
    Per Merriam-Webster, it is a "yellow discoloration of the skin from abnormal causes."
    Spelling this word correctly won Justin Tyler Carroll, from Memphis, Tenn., the national championship trophy in 1995.

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