How do I use this page to help me solve the Spelling Bee?

Just enter the seven letters from today's puzzle. Put them all in lowercase except for the center letter, which needs to be capitalized. Then click the solve it button.

For instance, if the hive included the letters v, m, t, a, e and p, with n as the center letter, you could enter the string "vmtaepN" (with the letters in any order).

Do I really have to type in all the letters? Isn't there a faster way to get hints on today's Spelling Bee?

As a matter of fact, there is a shortcut. Just click the latest button up above and you'll be taken directly to the results for today's puzzle.

When I clicked the latest button, it brought me to a page that had statistics about today's Spelling Bee but no answers. How do I get to the answers?

In the interest of not spoiling the Bee for people who only want hints, the latest button brings up our analysis of today's puzzle with the solution set hidden. To see the answers, simply uncheck the hide solution set checkbox and click solve it.

Isn't this page just an elaborate way of cheating on the Spelling Bee? Where's the sportsmanship in that?

It certainly can be used to cheat, but it can also be used to provide hints if you get stuck. If you set the hide solution set checkbox before you click solve it, you'll only see statistics about the accepted solutions, not the solutions themselves.

Sometimes we all could use a little nudge in the right direction.

Is this page only good for finding answers to the Spelling Bee?

Not at all! This solver can help you find words derived from any seven letters you care to enter. If you love words and word games, it's fun just to play around with different combinations of letters and see what comes up.

I entered a seven-letter word, but your page told me my word only has six letters. Why is that?

The solver is not looking at the length of the word itself. It's looking at how many unique letters are used to spell the word. For instance, the word "stellar" is seven letters long, but it only contains six different letters. That's because the letter l appears in it twice.

What happens if I enter more than seven letters?

That depends on how many unique letters your string contains. For instance, the word "flashbulbs" is valid as input because it contains only the letters a, b, f, h, l, s and u.

However, the word "abjectly" would not be accepted, even though it's shorter than "flashbulbs," because it contains 8 unique letters.

When I entered some letters in the solver, I got some really strange words back in the results. Why is that?

Our solver searches a list of more than a quarter-million words which we've compiled from various online sources. Not everything in our list is a valid dictionary word, so you will sometimes see very odd or obscure words in the solution set. This is so that we can provide the widest possible selection of potential solutions for any given set of seven letters.

How do you calculate the score field in the solution statistics?

The score for any solution set is based on the scoring system for the daily online New York Times Spelling Bee. Each four-letter word found is worth one point. Longer words are scored according to their length, with five-letter words worth five points, six-letters words worth six points, and so on.

If a word is a pangram, it's worth its length plus a bonus of seven points. For instance, the pangram "whippoorwill" is twelve letters in length, which makes it worth 19 points.

You keep using words like pangram that I don't understand. What does that mean?

A pangram is a word that uses all seven letters from the hive. You can find definitions for this and other strange terms in our glossary.

I found a really great word that was not accepted in the Spelling Bee. It's an actual word, so why didn't they take it?

According to the help page, the Spelling Bee list is curated to focus mostly on common words. The editors say, "We also try to avoid terms that are very specific to any professional field, such as terms that might be familiar to, for example, a physician, ornithologist or geologist, but not to people outside of that field of expertise."

Still, sometimes the words they exclude are real headscratchers. The good news is, if you click the include disallowed matches button, you'll at least have the satisfaction of seeing that your word is part of a large set of other disallowed words. And if you don't find your word in our expanded list, please let us know.

When I entered today's letters in your solver, I got back some words that weren't accepted in the Spelling Bee. What's up with that?

If you see words in our solution set that aren't accepted in today's puzzle, it's probably because our daily analysis is still pending. We never know exactly which words will be accepted and which won't until we've had time to take a look at the puzzle. We try to do that promptly every morning, but sometimes other things get in the way. If you check back in an hour or two, the list might be more accurate.

As a tip, if you see today's date listed near the top of the solution set, that means the day's analysis is complete. If you don't, then either we haven't completed the process yet or you may have entered the letters from the puzzle incorrectly.

Browsing through the archive, I found a few puzzles with answers labeled disallowed in later puzzles. What does that mean?

Sometimes the editors of the Spelling Bee will decide that a word which was accepted in earlier puzzles will no longer be allowed in future puzzles. That could be because the word has been deemed too obscure or offensive to continue using, or there might be some more arcane explanation.

Whatever the reason, we do take notice when previously accepted words are not accepted in later puzzles. Since we continue to display complete solution sets for earlier puzzles, we wanted to be sure to mark those problematic words, by way of explaining why you probably won't see them accepted in the future.

You can see an example of a puzzle with one of these words here.

I see a checkbox labeled show compound distribution as an option on today's puzzle. What does that mean, and how do I use this feature?

A compound is a valid word comprising two or more shorter words jammed together (e.g., "hymnbook," "footpath," or "proofread"). Some solvers find words like this particularly difficult to tease out of the Bee, so to help we've provided an optional auxiliary grid that breaks down their distribution by length and first letter. See this example for a puzzle with an unusual number of compounds, where you can check out the distribution grid in action.

(Please note that compound distributions are only available for current and past puzzles, not for general random string lookups. We apologize for any inconvenience.)

I spotted a compound in today's solution set that you overlooked. When are you going to fix it?

If you believe you've spotted a compound that we failed to mark, please feel free to let us know via email. We'll gladly correctly any oversights. Please understand that evaluating and marking compounds is not a trivial process and can sometimes take us until midmorning. This is to say, we may not always complete the task in a timely fashion.

If it's later than 9:00 am on the East Coast of the United States, however, chances are that we've already looked at the word carefully and decided that it doesn't qualify as a compound—at least, not by our admittedly strict definition.

For our purposes, we do not count words built using prefixes, suffixes, or combining forms, even when those stems appear to be valid words on their own ("outspend," "widow­hood," "friend­ship," "tooths­ome," "careless," "wayward," "monotone"), nor do we count classical compounds built from Greek or Latin roots ("stereo­phonic," "zoo­logical," "psycho­therapy") or words imported from other languages ("tallyho", "pot­latch"). In fact, any word that can be divided into shorter words to which it is etymologically unrelated ("pardon," "banking," "mushroom," "ganglion," "chartreuse") will fail to qualify.

Has it ever happened that a previous Spelling Bee gets repeated on a later date?

It's fairly common for the editors of the Bee to repeat an earlier set of letters on a later date. The usual practice in these cases, though, is for them to use a different center letter in the later puzzle. The pangram (or pangrams) will be the same as before, but the change means there will still be some variation in the solution set, to help keep things interesting to veteran solvers.

However, on August 13, 2020 the editors for the first time repeated a previous puzzle using the exact same center letter as before. Not only that, but they did it barely five weeks after the original puzzle had appeared! The twist was that in the new puzzle they began accepting a word that had been disallowed in the previous instance, increasing the number of answers in the solution set from 26 to 27.

This caught us a bit unprepared, with the consequence that for the first few hours of the day we were actually displaying the older solution set instead of the newer one. We fixed the problem as quickly as possible, and we certainly hope we won't be caught like that with our pangrams down again.

I'm trying to solve the weekly print version of the Spelling Bee. Why don't you have an accurate solution set for that?

Unfortunately we don't have the time or resources needed to track the print version of the Spelling Bee. (It's actually more difficult and involved than tracking the online version.) However, you can still enter the letters from the print puzzle to help you find words you might have missed. Be sure to click the checkbox that says hide four-letter words to limit the solution set to words with five or more letters.

Why did you build this page in the first place? Were you just looking for a way to cheat on the Spelling Bee?

After playing the Spelling Bee for a while, we became interested in finding out just how many words there are that are made up of exactly seven different letters. (Answer: a lot!) This solver grew out of that effort, but quickly took on a life of its own.

Was there anything unexpected that you learned from building this solver?

An interesting and unexpected thing we learned along the way is just how difficult it can be to construct a good Spelling Bee puzzle. The pangram should yield a manageable list of solutions, which usually means the hive contains at most two different vowels (and sometimes y), but never an s. (Just look at how many solutions there are for a simple pangram like "elastic"!) The choice of center letter is important, too, since that can have a big effect on how many words appear in the solution set.

What is the longest pangram in your database?

The longest word we've found that can be constructed from seven unique letters is "coccidioidomycosis" (a type of fungal infection), which tips the scales at 18 letters in length.

Our favorite long pangram, however, is probably "hobbledehoyhood," a term from the Scots for a period of awkward adolescence. A mere 15 letters long, it's still undeniably delightful to pronounce.

Do you work for The New York Times?

This site is in no way associated with or sponsored by The New York Times. We're just rabid fans of the Spelling Bee, and we enjoy building whimsical analytical tools like this one.

However, if the Times is ever looking for a new programmer for the Puzzles section, we're all ears.

As a coder myself, I'm curious to know how your solver works.

Very accurately and efficiently, we hope!

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Also by William Shunn