Bee Roots for 2024-02-17

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: O/BFGLRU
  • Words: 32
  • Points: 98
  • Pangrams: 1
Source: Ariadne Van Zandbergen/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, ...)
1BL4Gelatinous mass, or 1950s alien horror film
1BL4Online journal, noun/verb
1BO5Critic’s slang adj. for a wildly successful show or film
1BO4Cotton seed target for weevil
1BO4Western string tie
1BO4Breast, slang
1BO6“Owie” you kiss & make better, mistake, or what 2 ghosts say
1BO4Lout, NOT wild pig
1BU8High-volume croaker, compound pangram made from ♂ cow + cousin of toad
1BU6Southern stew AKA roadkill soup
1BU5Donkey, Spanish
1FL4Whip (a dead horse?), verb
1FL5What you walk on inside (You’re getting mud on my clean …!)
1FL5(Pillsbury or Gold Medal) ground wheat for baking (add a cup of …)
1FO4Unwise person, court jester tarot card, noun; or to trick or deceive, verb
1FO5Do without, verb
1FO4Pollute, 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)
1FO4How many legs a dog has
1FR4Toad cousin, noun/adj.
1FR8Showy clothing ornamentation, or rustling sound of skirts or dresses
1FU5Public uproar (caused a …)
1GL4Semi-liquid lump, as in cheese
1GO4Sport that has been described as "a good walk spoiled" (often attributed to Mark Twain, who probably never said it)
1GO4Mistake, noun; or fool around (… off), verb
1GO6Large number (10¹⁰⁰), NOT a web search site
1GR4Watered-down (nautical) rum
1LO4Wolf, Spanish
1LO4Company graphic symbol; Target’s is a red bullseye ◎
1LO7Balance competition with timber in water, compound
1LO4Hang out or droop, as a dog’s tongue
1RO4What you do to dice, verb; or Tootsie candy & small bread format, noun
1RO4Top of a house (where Santa lands)

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