Words of the Champions (officially entitled Words of the Champions, Your Key to the Bee) was introduced as the new Scripps-provided study list for the 2020 Bee Season. It replaces Spell It!, the study list from 2007-2019, and is the fourth pre-national bee study list Scripps has released since the National Spelling Bee’s inception in 1925.
- Words of the Champions (2020-present)
- Spell It! (2007-2019)
- Paideia (1995-2006)
- Words Of Champions (1953-1994)
Its name likely pays homage to Scripps’ original study list, Words Of Champions, which was active for 42 consecutive years, though this is a completely separate list and shouldn’t be confused with the new one.
The introduction of Words of the Champions turned the spelling world upside down for two main reasons: first, if history is any indicator, this list will likely serve as the study guide for all pre-national competitions for at least the next 10 years, and second, it contains 4,000 words, nearly 3.5 times as many as the 1,155-word Spell It!. By making the list this huge, Scripps essentially declared that they’re challenging their contestants to do more. In an era when the average ability of spellers is increasing considerably with every passing year, it makes sense for them to roll out a larger list to increase the difficulty with which one can memorize it.