'Ibuprofen' a Real Headache at National Spelling Bee

Painkiller more familiar to adults eliminates an 11-year-old contestant
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 1, 2011 1:18 PM CDT

(Newser) – With words like "ineluctable" and "usufructuary," most adults wouldn't make it too far at the 84th Scripps National Spelling Bee ... unless they happened to be dealt a word familiar to those suffering the pains of old age. "Ibuprofen" knocked out a sixth grader from Idaho during today's second round. Skye Merriam guessed "ibuprofine." The 11-year-old made a sad, slow walk after the round to find her parents, who offered hugs and comfort and managed to coax her into a halfhearted fist bump.

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All but 38 of the 275 competitors to approach the microphone spelled their word correctly, many of them after asking the usual questions about definition, language of origin, and pronunciation. Among the more amusing words: "harrumph" and "ballyhooed." The scores were to be combined with Tuesday's written test to determine who advances to the semifinals Thursday morning. The finals will be held Thursday night, broadcast in prime time for the sixth consecutive year. The winner receives more than $40,000 in cash and prizes. (Click for a linguist's take on the spelling bee's toughest words.)

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