Eremacausis: n. 1. A gradual oxidation from exposure to air and moisture, as in the decay of old trees or of dead animals. 2. The word that dropped Samir Patel in the seventh round of the 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Things looked great for Patel this afternoon--in the sixth round, after nailing the most difficult word I'd seen in my life, thymiaterion, in fewer than 30 seconds, the Carrollton wonder boy jumped in the air and pumped his fist (I hadn't seen the celebratory side of Patel in competition before). About 10 minutes later, ESPN's afternoon Bee coverage was over, interrupted for a golf tourney...everyone assumed we'd watch Patel's great to-be-continued on ABC tonight at 7 p.m. I've seen the dejected side of Patel before, certainly, in last year's broadcast; we'll have to wait until tonight's highlight reel to see that again as he spells the word thusly, "aeromocausis." Meanwhile, his metroplex counterpart, Amy Chyao, heard the unfortunate misspelling ding two rounds earlier after missing "tokonoma."

Everything I said yesterday about Patel deserving an award for Bee consistency stands--the kid's a superman and deserves to be treated as such, no matter what happened today. Congratulations, Samir and Amy. Have to ask the boss if we can we hire 12-year-old interns. --Sam Machkovech

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