The word that knocked Minnetonka eighth-grader Maxwell Meyer out of the spelling bee

Maxwell Meyer spelled words you haven't even heard of.

Maxwell Meyer spelled words you haven't even heard of.

The moment belonged to 14-year-old Maxwell Meyer. 

The eighth-grader at Minnetonka Middle School East looked like one of 45 finalists heading into the championships of the Scripps National Spelling Bee earlier Thursday just outside Washington, D.C. 

In the previous rounds Meyer had been clutch. A generic preliminaries test kicked off the competition, then came the onstage portion.

Meyer nailed sponsalia, "a promise lawfully made between persons capable of marrying each other, that at some future time they will marry." Meyer spelled acrostic right next and then nailed dithyramb, "a usually short poem in an inspired wild irregular strain." Fremitus followed.

Meyer showed ice water in his veins in the sixth round when he was asked to spell the word coquille.

What's the language of origin? he asked.

"French," said the judge.

Are there alternative pronunciations? Meyer said.


Meyer asked for the judge to repeat the definition, which can be ascribed to "any of various seafood or chicken dishes baked with a sauce and usually served in a scallop shell or a shell-shaped serving dish" or

"the cooking utensil for baking such dishes, usually a scallop shell or small casserole resembling a shell"

or "a cooking utensil, filled with charcoal, for roasting meat on a spit," or "the shell of an escargot."

The ESPN camera panned to his nervous family as the young man pondered his move.


Bang! A moment of pure grit and greatness by the young man who tied for 11th in the 2015 national bee.

But the dream ride this time around derailed just as quickly as euphoria had arisen. In round seven, Meyer was tasked with the word dulia. The noun means "the reverence accorded to saints and angels."

Perhaps Meyer got away from his game plan and thought too hard when less wasn't just more, but correct.


And with that, Meyer was bounced, sent back to Minnetonka with a finish just outside the bee's final round.

Your 2016 national winner is — well, there isn't one. There are two. For the third straight year, two spellers have tied. This time, it was Jairam Hathwar, 13, from Painted Post, New York, and Nihar Janga, 11, from Austin, Texas. 

Our money's on Max next year.