“Siphonaptera.” Yeah, easy for you to squeak!
Spelling out the scientific word for flea, and terms like it, came easier to some more than others in the 54th-annual Squeaks National Spelling Flea, which wrapped up today. More than 5,000 rat pups from all fifty states converged on Washington, D. Flea for the occasion, bringing substantial shrieks of terror from the pawliticians on Capivole Hill. (But since most consider pawliticians to be dirty rats anyway, it was rather fleadiculous of them to raise a ruckus!)
True to the Spelling Flea’s biting nature, competitors were bitten repeatedly as rat after rat was culled, as if by the Pied Piper, through nine claw-biting rounds. Contenders generally performed well at squeaking the spellings of cheeses (even ones as obscure as Roquefort), but when it came to words like rodentition, and other terms pertaining to one’s uber-important incisors, many contestants were mouthwashed out. (Hmm … looks like someone will need to floss!)
In a contest where it’s adamant to be accurat, any ratcademic can tell you that competing is not as easy as A-B-C and 1-2-flea. No, true victors need to jump out just like the Flea they’re here to spell at. For example, just like many of you human spelling champs must be able to spell “onomatopoeia,” describing a word that sounds like what it represents, so too our champions must relay “onomatofloeia,” describing a word that bites like what it represents.
And so it happened: in the final round young Ratticus Smart from Boca Raton, Florida scratched the Spelling Flea into submission by correctly spelling N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, or as you may know it, DEET, the active ingredient in most insect repellants (including flea medicines!). So congratulations to him – and to all of the Spelling Flea competitors – for learning early on a concept we’d all do well to grasp: in life, there is no spellchecker!
Keepin’ it squeak,