Tim Ruiter, 12, spelled psittacosis, passacaglia, byssinosis, cretonne, jacqueminot, reredos, oriflamme, and sophrosyne correctly.
It was maecenas that tripped him up, giving him second place in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, broadcast live on the ABC television network.
Ruiter, a member of Grace Christian Reformed Church in Burke, Virginia, won $10,000 for college.
When Ruiter, now home schooled, was in second grade, his teacher gave him a dictionary and told him to pick out his own words when the standard spelling lists weren’t challenging him.
Ruiter also excels in science. His home school Science Bowl team won the Virginia state title and went on to finish 12th in the national competition this year.
Ruiter is a junior youth leader in his church’s Cadet program for boys and plans to make profession of faith later this year.