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New York Times
12 Aug 2023

NextImg:Top 10 Hardest and Easiest Spelling Bee Words, Aug. 5-11

Note: If you plan to play Spelling Bee’s Past Puzzles from the last week, this list may contain spoilers.

This week, the delightful word quiddity, which can mean either the defining essence of something or a trivial quirk, was the word least found by players of Spelling Bee, while quit was the word most found.

This data is based on visitors to Spelling Bee Buddy, a tool that shows hints and statistics for each word as you play Spelling Bee, and covers Saturday, Aug. 5, to Friday, Aug. 11. (Users of the tool are among the puzzle’s most dedicated solvers, so these percentages are probably higher than they would be for all Spelling Bee players.)

Here are the meanings of the least-found words that were used in (mostly) recent Times articles.

1. quiddity — the defining essence of something, or a trivial quirk:

“A Splendid Intelligence” is the first biography of a writer who is mainly known among the other writers who revere her, serving as a solid (if stolid) resource and accessible introduction. Ample quotations from Hardwick allow her restless quiddity to come through. The Critic Elizabeth Hardwick Was Very Tough on Biographies. Now Here’s One of Her. (Nov. 3, 2021)

2. ennead — a group of nine, sometimes referring to a set of nine Egyptian deities:

Past the Hall of Offerings and the so-called Hall of the Ennead, there is the innermost sanctuary of the temple, where a daily ritual involved sealing the room’s double doors so that the worshiper could stand in total darkness. — Journey to Abdyos and Dendera (Feb. 24, 1985)

3. galangal — an earthy, citrusy spice often used in Southeast Asian cuisine:

On a recent weekend, Ms. Yee-Lakhani put her smoked char siu and brisket into puffy baos, and seared homemade sausages seasoned with galangal and lemongrass. — In Search of the California Barbecue Tradition (July 20, 2021)

4. leadenly — dully or heavily:

Desplechin’s movie was bumped partly to make room for more commercial French films like “Dheepan” and for two female directors: Maïwenn’s monotonous soap, “My King,” and Valérie Donzelli ’s “Marguerite & Julien,” an incest romance in a leadenly whimsical Wes Anderson key. At Cannes Film Festival, Good Sometimes Isn’t Enough (May 22, 2015)

5. hangnail — loose skin near a fingernail:

Hall gives all this short shrift, describing climate change as “a hangnail, not a hangman” (for whom, one wants to ask), and focusing on the villainy of lawyers and regulators and hippies. The Dystopia We Fear Is Keeping Us From the Utopia We Deserve (Jan. 8, 2023)

6. nabob — a particularly wealthy or prominent person:

Of course, the constancy of Planck’s constant hasn’t quelled anti-metric sentiment — if anything, it has only fueled suspicions that the metric system amounts to a bunch of elitist nabobs bent on crushing the ordinary person’s (literal) rule of thumb. — A History of Humanity in Cubits, Fathoms and Feet (Nov. 9, 2022)

7. unguent — a sticky substance, often used as an ointment:

Some archaeologists have argued that the main role of the cones, which have been featured on tomb walls from the Eighteenth Dynasty around 1550 B.C.E through the time of Cleopatra, was to act as perfumed unguents. Head Cones in Ancient Egyptian Graves Cap Archaeological Debate (Dec. 11, 2019)

8. landlady — a woman who rents property to others:

In Dinorwig, a former slate-mining town in Wales that is popular with visitors, a schoolteacher told The Guardian that her family was evicted by a landlady who admitted that she could make four times as much by renting their home to tourists. The English Countryside Is a Place of Profound Inequality (July 29, 2023)

9. tutti — performed by everyone, together:

And in moving from dry orchestral ruffling to powerful tutti riffing, this section of “unEarth” also recalled the “Factory” movement of her “Fire in my mouth” (2019), which the Philharmonic premiered and memorably recorded. Review: Julia Wolfe’s ‘unEarth’ Is Crowded Out by Multimedia (June 2, 2023)

10. koan — a statement whose paradoxical nature is meant to be contemplated:

Rui Zhe Goh, a graduate student in cognitive science and philosophy at Johns Hopkins University and one of the scientists involved in the study, described a koan that he likes: “Silence is the experience of time passing.” He said he interprets that to mean that silence is “an auditory experience of pure time.” Silence Is a ‘Sound’ You Hear, Study Suggests (July 10, 2023)

The list of the week’s easiest words:

Each morning, you can see which of the day’s Spelling Bee words are stumping the hivemind (without spoilers!), and track your remaining words, by visiting Spelling Bee Buddy.