I watched a girl on ESPN struggle with this word for about fifteen minutes before spelling it wrong (why ESPN televises the spelling bee is another matter). If anyone has watched (or been in) the National Spelling Bee, you know how amusing/frustrating it can be to watch someone struggle with words that no one uses anymore and that no one should ever have to spell. This particular word, though, was funny, just because of the way the competition went.

You know, the kid before gets something like 'ornithology', and he asks for it in a sentence, and asks for the word origin, and so on. And this girl is next, and she's hoping for something will a Latin root, you know, something like circumambulate. She gets up there... pressure's on, but she's ready... and then she hears the word:

		MODERATOR
	Aitch.

		GIRL
	Aitch?

		MODERATOR
	Aitch.

		GIRL
	Like the letter 'h'?

		MODERATOR
	Would you like the definition?

		GIRL
	Yes, please.

		MODERATOR
	The letter 'h'.

		GIRL
	Part of speech?  Noun?

		MODERATOR
	Noun.

		GIRL
	(waits a good three minutes, eyes sideways and skyward)
	What is the etymology of the word?

		MODERATOR
	English.

		GIRL
	(another two minutes)
	Could you use it in a sentence?

		MODERATOR
	The boy was unsure if hitchhiker had one aitch, or two.

		GIRL
	Aitch... aitch...
	(another two minutes pass)
	Are there any other variant spellings?

		MODERATOR
	No.

		GIRL
	(nervous laugh)
	Well, I know it's not spelled 'h'.

(A few nervous laughs.  Thirty seconds or so pass)

	Are there any other definitions?

		MODERATOR
	No.

		GIRL
	(another two minutes pass)
	Oh well... Aitch.  A-I-C-H.  Aitch.

		MODERATOR
	I'm sorry.  Aitch.  A-I-T-C-H.
The girl retreats off stage with a sigh. If only she had gotten a word that people use... a word she could spell... like syzygy... she'd still be in business...

Aitch (#), n.

The letter h or H.

 

© Webster 1913.

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