Bee Roots for 2023-12-20

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: E/ABCKLO
  • Words: 44
  • Points: 192
  • Pangrams: 3

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, ...)
1AB4Having the power, skill, means, or opportunity to do something, adj. (She was … to walk at 14 months)
1AL6(Bio term) 1 of 2 or more versions of a gene
1AL9Distribute (resources) for a particular purpose
1AL4Sunburn gel from “… vera” plant
1BA6Talk rapidly in a foolish or excited way (like an infant); homophone of Genesis “Tower of …,” verb
1BA4Infant, slugger Ruth, or pig film
1BA5Genesis “Tower of …,” noun
1BA4Cook (bread or cookies, e.g.) in an oven, verb
1BA4Parcel of hay, or actor Christian
1BE4Bird bill
1BE4Gesture requesting attention; summons (at someone's … and call)
1BE4It rings
1BE5Southern pretty ♀ (Scarlett O'Hara, e.g.)
1BL5Dreary, grim, or depressing; adj. (Dickens' “… House”)
1BL9large solid piece of hard material, especially rock, stone, or wood, typically with flat surfaces on each side, noun; or prevent from moving in a particular direction, verb
1BL5Brit & Aussie slang for guy
1BO6Type of “head” doll that nods when moved
1BO5Italian game similar to lawn bowling
1BO8Printed novel, noun; or reserve something, verb
1CA5Thick wire rope (… bridge), San Francisco trolley (… car), or insulated wire (power or USB …)
1CA6Make a harsh, raucous sound when laughing, verb/noun; (the witch …d with delight as she stirred the potion)
1CA4Baked dessert, often with layers and icing; traditional birthday party fare
1CA8Phone, name, summon, or shout (out)
1CE5Person who’s well-known, slang abbr.
1CE4Prison “room,” or smallest unit of an organism
1CE9Large building subdivided into separate prison cells, compound
1CE5Yo-Yo Ma’s instrument (also Pablo Casals')
1CO6Repair or make, especially shoes; make or put together roughly or hastily
1CO6Edible bivalve marine mollusk with a pretty shell, or slang for your core (it warms the …s of my heart)
1CO4Pepsi rival; or fuel made by heating coal in the absence of air; or slang abbr. for drug people snort
1CO8Prep or heat food
1KA4Trendy lettuce (but really leaf cabbage)
1KE5Meat on a skewer (shish …)
1KE4Bottom stabilizing ridge of a boat or ship, noun; or capsize, verb (… over)
1LA5Tag or sticky paper with info (Avery mailing …)
1LA4Frilly fabric, or shoestring
1LA4Large body of freshwater (Great ones are Erie, Superior, etc.)
1LE4Place where water escapes a pipe or hose, or info spilled to a reporter
1LE4Veg similar to onion; homophone of place where water escapes a pipe
1LO4Brain section, or part of ear most commonly pierced
1LO6Place where something happens (exotic …)
1LO8A door fastener with a key, noun/verb
1OB4Double reed orchestra-tuning instrument

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