National Spelling Bee
8 pm/ET ABC
Times have changed, and so have the winning words in this entertaining event. Hard-to-spell, but at least understandable, championship-deciding words from the past have included "gladiolus" (1925); "condominium" (1956); "chihuahua" (1967) and "luge" (1984). But starting about 15 years ago, the competition heated up, with winners having to clinch with words like "antediluvian," "succedaneum" and "appoggiatura." It's gotten tougher being a kid.
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Sure, she may know her appoggiatura from her serrefine, but can she accurately address a letter to Dancing with the Stars' Maksim? On the eve of her fourth trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, 8th-grader Josephine Kao of Sacramento shared a peek inside her spellbinding world, and then dared to tackle some of TV's "toughest" names. (ABC's coverage of the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals, hosted by Dancing man Tom Bergeron, airs Thursday at 8 pm/ET. SportsCenter's Chris McKendry oversees coverage of the semifinal rounds earlier that day, from 10 am to 1 pm, on ESPN.)
TVGuide.com: What do you typically do the last few days before the national bee? Do you keep cracking at the books, or "get away" from it all?
Josephine Kao: I try to do both. One kid I know said he stayed up until 5 a.m. yesterday morning, but I try to study just a little. The rest is just relaxing and getting ready.
TVGuide.com: Which of your past eliminations gnaws away at you most? What was the word?
Kao: The hardest one for me was last year, when I misspelled ...