Bee Roots for 2023-12-19

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: A/FLMORU
  • Words: 51
  • Points: 188
  • Pangrams: 1

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, ...)
1AF4Jackson 5 hairstyle
1AF5Pollute, verb; or make an out of bounds or illegal sports play, verb/noun/adj. (he …ed it off/the referree called a …/he hit a … ball)
1AL5Warning (bell)
1AL7Grass for hay, or Little Rascal
1AL5Cool & distant in behavior, adj.; anagram of bath sponge
1AL4Graduate, noun, Latin abbr.
1AM4A supply of bullets, slang abbreviation
1AM5Love in French, noun
1AM6Principled, ethical, adjective; or the lesson of a story, noun
1AR6What connects your hand to your shoulder, noun; or give weapons to someone, verb/noun
1AR5Protective covering against weapons (suit of …)
1AR5Pleasant smell (baking bread, e.g.)
1AR4Plant genus with → shaped leaves, often called … lilies
1AU4Supernatural glow encircling a person
1AU5Hearing-related adj.
2AU6,7Polar lights (… Borealis)
1FA4Autumn, noun; or plummet, verb
1FA7Statistical decrease, or result of slipping while on a ladder; compound
1FA4Place for growing crops
1FA5Ancient grain used in salad & soup, not King Tut
1FL5Plants of a particular region (… & fauna)
1FL6Involving flowers
1FO4Baby horse or other equine, noun/verb
1FO4Mattress material, or beer froth
1FO6Not casual (… occasion, … wear), adj.
1FO7Math or science expression (NaCl for salt), or breast milk substitute, pangram noun
1FO4Meeting place (Roman …, online discussion …)
1LA4Tibetan Buddhist monk (Dalai …)
1LL5S Am camel
1LO4Unit of bread, noun; or idle (… around), verb
1LO4Fertile, sandy soil
1LO5Bath sponge
1LU4Hawaiian BBQ
1MA4Shopping center with many stores under one roof
2MA4,5♀ parent, slang
1MA6Vertebrate class that has hair, milk, & live birth
1MA4Old-timey schoolteacher honorific
1MA4Wound by tearing & scratching, or Star Wars Sith Lord (Darth...)
1MO5♀ parent, slang
1MO5Grinding back tooth
1MO5$, slang (from Fiji)
1MO5Principled, ethical, adjective; or the lesson of a story, noun
1MU5Work of art painted directly on a wall
1OF5Entrails & organs used as food
1OR4Spoken (… exam), or by mouth (… surgery), adjective
1RO4Wander, or use your phone on another network
1RO4Lion “shout”
1RU5Countryside adj.; opposite of urban

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