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The sweet 'spell' of young success

If any of the finalists in this year's Gwinnett County Spelling Bee ever get the chance to be on a game show, it should be a piece of cake, because on Saturday at the Central Gwinnett High auditorium, they all showed they can handle pressure.

No one did it better than Asad Ladhani, a sixth-grader at Lanier Middle School who won the competition for the second straight year. Facing 11 other talented spellers, Ladhani once again proved to be the best of the best.

It was an impressive performance. To not miss a word in that setting - lights dimmed, spotlight directly on the speller, judges looking on, audience hanging on every letter - says a lot about Ladhani's ability to focus.

As a judge in the Daily Post-sponsored event, I've had the chance to witness the county finals the past four years. Each year, I come away with two things: a healthy appreciation for the spellers and nice additions to my vocabulary.

Each year, you learn a couple of words you've never heard before - this year it was "lobscouse," a traditional sailor's stew, originating in Germany of meat vegetables and hardtack - and watch in amazement as a youngster spells it correctly.

With that in mind, I'd like to share with you some of the enjoyable words that were asked on Saturday along with a - hopefully - humorous take on what I thought the definition could be followed by what it is:

Word: Bathymetry

What it could be: The practice of filling the tub via metric measures.

What it is: The science of measuring the depths of oceans, seas, etc.

Word: Oxydactyl

What it could be: A new and improved acne fighter.

What it is: Characterized by slender toes.

Word: Niveous

What it could be: The way someone looks after using an abundance of Nivea lotion.

What it is: Snowy, snowlike.

Word: Megatonnage

What it could be: The unit of measure by which the Atlanta Falcons buy food.

What it is: A unit of explosive force equal to that of one million metric tons of TNT.

Word: Synoptophore

What it could be: A person who only enjoys books in synopsis form.

What it is: An instrument for diagnosing imbalance of eye muscles and treating them by orthoptic methods.

Word: Glossopathy

What it could be: A desire to wear too much lip gloss.

What it is: A disease of the tongue.

Word: Cataplexy

What it could be: How you remove a cat from a tree.

What it is: A sudden loss of muscle tone and strength, usually caused by an intense emotional stimulus.

"Legerity" and "approbation" were also words spelled correctly on Saturday, fitting since the spellers showed plenty of the former and deserved the latter.

E-mail Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Tuesdays.