1. A spelling competition in which the participants have to spell the words orally, and sometimes (especially for the finalists) in front of an audience.
2. A character in Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth, which is a play as well as a book. The main character is a boy named Milo, who leads a boring, predictable life, until a magic tollbooth appears in his room, and he goes to the worlds of Dictionopolis and Digitopolis. The spelling bee is, literally, a spelling bee-- an actual bee who spells words as he speaks them. The Phantom Tollbooth is a fantastic "children's" book, though adults can enjoy it as well, as they will get more of its jokes.
Sidenote that has nothing to do with understanding the definition, but is cool: my name is Rachel, and The Phantom Tollbooth was the play my class did in 5th grade. I was the spelling bee. The only other person I have ever met who even knew there WAS a play, was also named Rachel, also did the play in 5th grade, and was also the spelling bee. We are the same age, so it is possible that we were rehearsing and learning our lines simultaneously, though we didn't meet until we were cabin-mates at camp a few years later.
1. Person running the spelling be: Okay, the next word is "antidisestablishmentarianism."
Poor little 4th grader: Ummmmm..... come again?
(because most 4th graders don't say: WTF? How the hell am I supposed to spell that, I can't even pronounce it!)
2. The spelling bee is the best part in The Phantom Tollbooth, seeing as how the other leads were divided into 3 or 4 parts, including a sex change for Milo.
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