Bee Roots for 2023-12-12

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. An exception: since Sam won't allow S, when the root contains an S, the clue may be for a plural or suffixed form. "Mice" for example. If a clue isn't self-explanatory, try googling it. The TL;DR about the site comes after the table.

Past clues are available here

Today's puzzle
  • Letters: N/ABEILV
  • Words: 59
  • Points: 261
  • Pangrams: 1
Source: Nodar Chernishev/Getty Images

Table content

  • with first two letters of answer and length
answers coveredanswer's first two lettersanswer's lengthclue for root (answer may need prefix, suffix, tense change, alt spelling, ...)
1AL5Extraterrestrial (“In space no one can hear you scream”)
1AL9Able to be transferred to new ownership, legal adj. (negative form is better known from in… rights)
1AN5Yearly record book
1AN6Heat then cool metal or glass slowly to toughen it
1AN4Opening at the end of the alimentary canal through which solid waste matter leaves the body, adj. form also means uptight
1AN5Heavy block for metalworking (… Chorus from Verdi's Il Trovatore)
1AV5Bird-related adj. (… Flu, e.g.)
1BA6Whale straining “teeth”
1BA5Unoriginal, dull
1BA6Common yellow plantain variety
1BA4Cause of annoyance, or DC Comics villain (he’s the … of my existence)
1BE4Legume (lima …), noun; or hit on the head, verb
1BE8A pitch aimed at a batter’s head, compound
1BE6Head-hugging brimless cap with a button at the crown (propeller optional), NOT a legume
1BE7Straight, direct course between 2 points, compound (think this puzzle’s name)
1BE4Past participle of “to exist” (“How have you … doing?”)
2BI7,8Period of 2 years, Latin plural
2BL4,5Russian pancake
1EL4Énérgy, stylé, énthusiasm; from Frénch
1EL6Hour before noon
1EN6Having the power, skill, means, or opportunity to do something, adj. (She was … to walk at 14 months)
1EN8Jealousy, noun/verb
1EN7Exist, verb; or not on tape (TV show), adj.
1EV4Number that can be divided by 2 without a remainder, or flat & smooth; adj.; or to make or become that (… out the edges)
1IN11Extraterrestrial (“In space no one can hear you scream”)
1IN5Stupid, silly, ridiculous (… questions or comments); adj.
1IN5Concave belly button, slang
1LA5Hawaiian island or porch
1LA4Small road (Beatles’ Penny … or Superman’s Lois …)
1LA4Put something down
1LE4Not fatty (… meat), adj.; or incline (… back in your chair)
1LE6Cause to rise, as bread with yeast
1LI4Bank hold on a mortgaged property, NOT tilt
2LI4,6A queue, what you wait in for your turn
1LI5Cloth napkin fabric
1LI5Exist, verb; or not on tape (TV show), adj.
1NA4Indiaan flaat breaad
1NA4Spike that’s hammered, noun/verb
1NA5Showing a lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment
1NA4Grandma, slang; or Peter Pan dog
1NA5Seafaring military force, adj., not belly button
1NA4Central part of a church building
1NA5Belly button
1NE4Hawaiian goose & state bird
1NI6Small, tentative chew, verb; or a snack, noun
1NI4Number of justices on Supreme Court
1VA4Conceited (Carly Simon “You’re So …”)
1VA4Device that shows wind direction
2VA7,8Flavor from beans of white (plain …) ice cream + chemical compound of that flavor, C₈H₈O₃
1VE4Tube that returns blood to the heart
1VE5Corrupt (susceptible to bribery), adj.
1VE6Catholic minor forgivable sin, adj.
1VI7Bad guy in a story
1VI1019–stanza poem made up of five tercets (3 stanzas) followed by a quatrain (4 stanzas), with two repeating rhymes and two refrains, from French
1VI4Climbing plant (Marvin Gaye “I Heard It Through The Grape…”)

About this site

This site provides clues for a day's New York Times Spelling Bee puzzle. It follows in Kevin Davis' footsteps. The original set of 4,500 clues came from him, and they still make up about three quarters of the current clue set.

The "Bee Roots" approach is to provide explicit clues for root words, not every word. 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.

A few words can have one meaning as a suffixed form and another as a stand-alone word. EVENING, for example. In those cases I will use the meaning that I think is more common.

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