“Dirigible,” the adjective meaning “capable of being steered” was no match today for the 6-year-old from Lake Ridge, Va., who breezed through Round 1 of the 85th Scripps National Spelling Bee.
However, it was in Round 2 where Lori Anne, the youngest competitor in the history of the prestigious contest, stumbled. Faced with the word “ingluvies,” meaning “the crop of a bird or insect,” she incorrectly spelled it with an “e” as the first letter and was later eliminated, not moving on to Thursday’s semifinals and finals.
Lori Anne earned her spot in the Scripps by beating out 21 other spellers and winning the 34th Prince William County Spelling Bee earlier this year. She was the youngest participant in that contest as well.
“I have been in competitions with older kids before and I have many friends, some younger and some older, and I feel comfortable in any group,” she told ABC News in March.
She said then that her love of spelling had started when she was 3 years old.
“I started reading very early and I read a lot, and that helps. Plus, I work hard and love to find new interesting words in the dictionary,” she said.
In a moment of fun today, ESPN’s Samantha Steele — appearing as contestant No. 279 — tried to tap Lori Anne’s brain for help when the reporter was asked to spell the word “slobberhannes.”
“Lori Anne, any help back here,” Steele asked. “You know? No? You’re not helping me out?”
“I think it’s a joke,” the 6-year-old replied, though the two held hands as Steele attempted to spell the word.
The winner of the competition receives more than $40,000 in cash and prizes — and the title of world’s greatest speller.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.