Bee Roots for 2021-12-18

The table provides clues for the roots of words in today's NY Times Spelling Bee. You're responsible for prefixes, suffixes, tense changes, plurals, doubling consonants before suffixes, and alternate spellings of roots. The TL;DR about the site comes after the table. The Halloween, 2021 redesign improved the usability, I hope.

Past clues are available here

Today's puzzle

Table content

root #answers coveredanswer's first two lettersanswer's lengthclue for root (answer may need prefix, suffix, tense change, alt spelling, ...)
41BI5Game with a number sheet, marker, & a number caller
11BI6Important person (informal, compound)
21BI7Receptacle for storing a specified substance, noun/verb; trash can (British)
31BI7Overindulge (…-watch Netflix); verb/noun
111BO4Water pipe for smoking weed, or sound of a large bell
151BO4Breast, slang
171BO4Favor, poetic (grant me a …), noun
181BO4Lout, NOT wild pig
201BO4Existing as a result of birth, adj. (Biden was … in Scranton)
81BO5Sound of a spring or jack-in-the-box, noun
121BO5Paired small drum held between the knees; add a vowel to end of above
211BO5Element 5
61BO6Sewing machine thread holder
91BO6Candy, or 2X “good" in French
101BO6Skeleton part, or what dogs chew & bury; study intensely
131BO6Small ape related to chimps
141BO6Express disapproval at a game, verb; what ghosts say
161BO6“Owie” you kiss & make better, mistake, or what 2 ghosts say
191BO6Drill a hole, verb; or the diameter of a rifle barrel, noun; or be dull and uninteresting, verb
221BO6Use something with the intention of returning it; use money with an obligation to pay it back
231BO6Bend at the waist, especially to acknowledge applause
241BO6Rhyming compound bark of a cartoon dog
51BO7Make a quick short movement up and down (… for apples); short haircut for women
71BO7Wet muddy ground too soft to support something heavy; become stuck in such a place, verb (negotiations …ed down)
221BO9Use something with the intention of returning it; use money with an obligation to pay it back
261BR4Prison, especially on a warship
291BR4Vigor, Italian; often used in music as “allegro con …”
281BR5Lead, carry, or cause to come along with you
311BR5Color of nuts or dark wood
251BR7Persuade someone to do something, by means of an illegal gift of money
271BR7Soak food in very salty water before cooking
281BR8Lead, carry, or cause to come along with you
311BR8Color of nuts or dark wood
321GI6Another small ape related to chimps, or “Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire” author; noun
331GI6Insulting or mocking remark, noun/verb
201IN6Existing as a result of birth, adj. (Biden was … in Scranton)
341NO4Beginner, gamer slang
361RI6Long, narrow strip of fabric
351RI7Curved bone, part of the chest
361RI9Long, narrow strip of fabric
391RO5Worm-hunting bird with a red breast
381RO6Long, loose outer garment (bath…)
371RO7Steal from

About this site

This site provides clues for a day's New York Times Spelling Bee puzzle. It exists to make it easier for Kevin Davis to take a day off. Most of the clues come from him. There may be some startup problems, but long term I think I can put the clues together with no more than half an hour's work.

The "Bee Roots" approach is to provide explicit clues for root words, not every word. This is similar to what Kevin Davis does, but without information about parts of speech As logophiles, we are pretty good at putting on prefixes and suffixes, changing tense, and forming plurals (including Latin plurals!). The clues cover root words, arranged alphabetically by root word, with a count of words in the puzzle that come from each root. For example, if a puzzle includes ROAM and ROAMING, there will be a clue for ROAM and a count of 2. The root may not appear in the puzzle at all; for example, the 2021-07-23 Bee included ICED, DEICE, and DEICED. For such a puzzle, the clue would be for ICE with a word count of 3.

The Bee Roots approach involves judgement sometimes. For example, if a puzzle includes LOVE, LOVED, and LOVELY, how many roots are needed to cover them? LOVE and LOVED share the root LOVE, certainly, but LOVELY is tricky. LOVE is part of its etymology, but by now, the word means "exquisitely beautiful," which is a lot farther from the meaning of LOVE than swithcing to past tense. I'm inclined to treat LOVE and LOVELY as separate roots. You may not agree, which is fine. Another thing we logophiles share is a LOVE of arguing about words on Twitter.

One last complication, until another one pops up: a few roots have multiple spellings, for example LOLLYGAG and LALLYGAG. Depending on the day's letters, and maybe even the editor's whims, one or both could be in the puzzle's answer list. With such roots, you could see a word count of 2, even if there are no applicable prefixes or suffixes.

I will do my best to keep this site up to date and helpful (I hope). Check it out, and tweet feedback to @donswartwout Tweet to @donswartwout

Many thanks to Kevin Davis, whose 4,500-word clue list made this possible.