Champion starts with a 'Bee'

Ursprache, appoggiatura, autochthonous, pococurante and prospicience.

Nope, those aren't five villains thwarted by spells from Harry Potter. Instead, they're the winning words the past five years in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Set for Wednesday and Thursday in Washington, D.C., the annual showcase for the best spellers has become a TV event and the subject of movies. The semifinals are at 10 a.m., Thursday on ESPN; then the finals at 8 p.m. on ABC.

This year, a record 286 contestants are entered. There are 147 girls (51.4 percent) and 139 boys (48.6 percent); those statistics are typical of previous years.

No one from Oregon has won the bee in the 80 years it has been held since it began in 1925. The winning word that year? Gladiolus.

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