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terete (tuh-REET, ter-EET) adjective

Smooth-surfaced, cylindrical, and tapering at the ends.

[From Latin teret-, stem of teres (round).]

See more usage examples of terete in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

"Passengers on the Temptress Explorer, above, can get close to a terete leaved vanda orchid, a scarlet macaw or a blue morpho."
John Tierney; Costa Rica, Naturally; The New York Times; Feb 1, 1998.

The 2005 U.S. Spelling Bee championship took place in Washington D.C. last week. In this annual contest, kids compete by identifying the spellings of the pronounced words and the winner is determined by elimination.

Why "bee"? No one is certain but the name apparently alludes to the social nature of these buzzing insects. Long ago, a bee was a gathering to unite efforts of neighbors to help one of their number. The pooling of muscle and a little friendly competition (such as who could husk the most ears of corn) made the task easy.

Some of the earlier examples of these community get-togethers were a quilting bee where participants sewed a patchwork quilt, an apple-bee where apples were prepared for drying, and a raising-bee to raise a barn. There were also a husking-bee (to husk the corn), a logging-bee (to chop the trees), and even the sinister lynching-bee. We are thankful to have left that last one behind us.

Today's friendly competitions cover many fields, including a geographic bee, a history bee, a math bee, and, of course, a spelling bee. A spelling bee is possible only in a language like English, where spelling and pronunciation of words have often diverged. In many languages, such as Hindi or Spanish, words are pronounced just as they are written, so a spelling bee would make no sense.

This week let's look at some of the words the young spellers tackled. To see the winners, the words they spelled, and to learn more, visit the Spelling Bee.

-Anu Garg


Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. -Alfred, Lord Tennyson, poet (1809-1892)

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