Top 10 Hardest and Easiest Spelling Bee Words, Aug. 12-18 | News Fission

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

1. pellicle — a thin skin or film:

Chestnuts, a holiday favorite, don’t make it easy for us to cook them at home. The pellicle, its sticky inner skin, clings to the nut and can give it a bitter taste. How Can I Peel the Inner Skin Off Chestnuts? (Nov. 24, 2011)

2. chyme — the partly digested food that leaves the stomach for the small intestine:

In sixth-grade math, they were reviewing order of operations, and in fifth-grade science they were learning about chyme. In third grade, they were writing a response to: How does Jimmy feel about raising goats? At Explore Charter School, a Portrait of Segregated Education (May 11, 2012)

3. yecch — an expression of disgust:

“People say, ‘Oh, that’s gross,’ ” Ms. Brunie-McDermott said. “Their gut reaction is, ‘Yecch!’ But we’re already eating and disposing of our food. It’s just a matter of putting it in a different bin.” — A Mission to Separate Organic Waste in New York City Trash (July 18, 2014)

4. lemma — a supporting proposition used in a larger mathematical proof:

Sperner’s lemma can help us find a fully labeled triangle, but how does that divide rent? Building on the work of two other mathematicians, Forest Simmons and Michael Starbird, Dr. Su realized that the small, fully labeled triangle could represent the rooms and prices in a hypothetical apartment To Divide the Rent, Start With a Triangle (April 28, 2014)

5. dotard — one whose faculties are declining, especially as a result of age:

A subtler transformation has turned the countess (Seana McKenna, superb) and the king (Ben Carlson, likewise) from stock dotards into complex characters. This is achieved less by rethinking motivations than by burrowing into the language, far richer than I imagined. Blame Canada (or at Least Ontario) for a Wealth of Smart Revivals (Aug. 4, 2022)

6. cortado — a drink that consists of one part espresso and one part steamed milk:

Order a cortado (38 kroner) at the artisan bakery Andersen & Maillard, then continue to the Sandkaj harbor bath, a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing with a wide wooden boardwalk along the water. 36 Hours in Copenhagen (July 20, 2023)

7. enby — a nonbinary person, who identifies as neither male nor female:

This is sometimes shortened to N.B. or enby. One notable example: Taylor Mason, a financial analyst on the show “Billions,” who is believed to be the first gender nonbinary character on television and is played by the nonbinary actor Asia Kate Dillon.The ABCs of L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+ (June 21, 2018)

8. canard — a fabricated story, or a secondary wing on a plane:

To the naked eye the drone — which has what’s known as a “push” airframe — almost appears to be flying backward as a result of two features: a small second wingspan, called a canard, at the nose of the drone, and a propeller at the back instead of the front. Ukraine’s Other Counteroffensive: Drone Attacks on Russian Soil (July 31, 2023)

9. clayey — like clay:

The ground was black and clayey and riddled with hundreds of slate arrow points, as if from a prehistoric drive-by shooting. As Earth Warms, Old Mayhem and Secrets Emerge From the Ice (Nov. 2, 2021)

10. bombe — a domed ice cream dessert:

Pisticci, a trattoria in Morningside Heights in Manhattan, drowns a tartufo — a bombe made with vanilla and chocolate ice creams with a Maraschino cherry in the middle, all encased in a hard chocolate shell — in espresso. The Best Coffee Break Is an Affogato (Aug. 11, 2021)

The list of the week’s easiest words:

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