NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Maine spelling champion Lily Jordan had no 
problem handling the bright lights and big stage of the 2011 Scripps 
National Spelling Bee on Wednesday.

Jordan, 14, is one of just 41 spellers – out of 275 National Spelling 
Bee contestants – headed for Thursday’s semifinal round after spelling 
both of her on-stage words correctly, and scoring well in the first 
round – a 25-word written test taken Tuesday.

“I am really excited,” said Jordan, who made it to the national contest 
last year but didn’t make it past the preliminary rounds. “I’ve never 
done this before.”

The eighth-grade Cape Elizabeth Middle School student, participating in 
the national contest for the second year in a row after her win in the 
Maine State Spelling Bee earlier this year, walked out to the microphone 
twice Wednesday and walked away successfully both times after correctly 
spelling “egregious” in the morning round and “Nostradamus” in the 
afternoon session.

Jordan missed just two words on the written test. It has been a tough 
competition – contestants who missed more than two words on the written 
test or either of the on-stage words failed to make the semi-finals.

The 98th speller in Wednesday morning’s first round, Jordan asked for a 
definition of “egregious,” said the word again, and then did a little 
practice spelling by writing on her hand.
She then calmly spelled “egregious” correctly, and walked back to her 
chair to the applause of the crowd.

Afterward, Jordan said she was “pretty nervous” as she approached the 
microphone, but was relieved and happy to correctly spell the word, one 
she knew well. It is an adjective whose definitions include: “remarkable 
for good quality,” “conspicuous for bad quality or taste,” 
“extraordinary” and “extreme,” according to the Bee’s official Webster’s 
Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged.

In the afternoon round, Jordan seemed to have little problem tackling 
“Nostradamus,” a word meaning one who professes to foretell future 
events that is taken from the name of a French physician and astrologer 
who died in 1566.

Jordan said after the round that she knew the word as soon as she heard 
it, especially given the number of references to the end of the world 
recently in news stories about predictions that the “rapture” would 
occur May 21.

The national contest culminates tonight with a championship final live 
on ESPN from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. This morning, 41 competitors will take 
the stage for the semi-finals, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on ESPN, during 
which a single misspelled word knocks the speller out of the competition.

The Bee’s location is new this year. Instead of being held in a downtown 
D.C. hotel, as it has been for a number of years, the competition is 
being staged at the Gaylord National Resort Hotel and Convention Center 
in National Harbor, Md., about 15 minutes outside of Washington.

Jordan earned her way to the National Spelling Bee by winning the Maine 
State Spelling Bee, which was sponsored by NextGen and hosted by 
MaineToday Media Inc., which publishes the Portland Press Herald/Maine 
Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta and Morning Sentinel in 
Waterville, the weekly Coastal Journal in Bath and their respective 

The winner of the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee will win an array 
of prizes, including $30,000 from the main sponsor of the Bee, the E.W. 
Scripps Company; as well as a $25,000 U.S. savings bond from 
Merriam-Webster, the dictionary publisher. Cash prizes also are awarded 
to other finalists, including $12,500 for second place and $7,500 for 
third place.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be 
contacted at 791-6280 or at [email protected]