Bee Roots for 2024-03-12

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: O/CFIMNR
  • Words: 52
  • Points: 217
  • Pangrams: 1
Source: HansLinde /

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, ...)
1CO5Spherical or nearly spherical bacterium
1CO6Nest for butterfly larva, noun; or wrap up like one, verb
1CO6Burial box, noun; or put a dead person in a burial box, verb (past tense is a pangram)
1CO4Style someone’s hair, verb/noun
1CO4Metal $, noun; or come up with a new phrase, verb
1CO4Fiber from the outer husk of the coconut, used for making ropes & matting
1CO5Paid jokester, or “… book” with superheroes
1CO6Ordinary, or shared (in …), adj.
1CO5Ice cream holder shape
1CO7Verify (always … your flight time before a trip), pangram verb
1CO7Follow rules, fit in (cars must … to pollution regs), verb
1CO4Veg on a cob
1CR4Holey shoe, or alligator relative abbr.
1CR5Small plant that blooms early in spring
1CR5Hum or sing in a soft, low voice, especially in a sentimental manner (think Sinatra or Bublé)
1FO4Center of interest or activity, noun; adjust a camera to get a clear image, verb
1FO4Something you fill out (name. address, etc.), noun; or shape, verb (… the dough into balls)
1FO6Ant adj. (… acid)
1FR4Preposition indicating starting point (“to” counterpart)
2IC4,6Symbol (you tap on phone screen, e.g.), adverb form is a pangram
1IN4Collection of facts and tips, abbr.
1IN6Give someone facts (I regret to … you), verb
1IO5Atom or molecule with a net electric charge
1IR4Element Fe (atomic number 26), or hot clothes presser, noun/verb
1IR6Wryly funny because it’s opposite to what’s expected (a fire station burns down, e.g,)
1MI5Prefix meaning small (-scope, -phone)
1MI9Library archival document on film, compound
1MI6One-millionth of a meter (μm), or computer chip maker, noun
1MI9Smaller version (as in Cooper car), slang abbr.
1MI6Underling, as seen in “Despicable Me”
1MI5Less important (… detail) or musical chord type, adj., or an underage person
1MI6Looking glass (“Who’s the fairest of them all?”)
1MO41–channel sound abbreviation, or glandular fever “kissing disease” abbreviation
1MO4NASA Apollo missions landed on or circled it
1MO8Lunar glass panel on car ceiling
1MO4Othello (“The …”), noun; or tract of open uncultivated upland (British noun); or tie up a boat, verb
1MO4Poetic start of day, NOT lament the dead; + period before midday
1MO7Casablanca’s country
1NO4“Black” in French; or dark mystery genre (film …)
1NO6Military slang abbr. for a senior enlisted person (sgt., e.g.) expressed as a negation
1NO412:00, midday, 🕛
1NO4Edible seaweed, eaten either fresh or dried in sheets
1NO4Standard (noun), or former SNL Weekend Update comic Macdonald
1OM7O, 15th letter in Greek alphabet, add it before short length word, noun
1ON5Veg that makes you cry when cut (for some, this is the "dreaded root veg")
1RO6Ornamental decorative style from the late Baroque
1RO6Amorous & funny film genre, slang abbr.
1RO4Top of a house (where Santa lands)
1RO4Chamber of a house (kitchen, bed-…, bath-…), noun/verb

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