SPELLING BEE, a match in which two sides contest in accuracy of spelling. The custom, an old one, was revived in the schools of the United States about the year 1873, and rapidly spread throughout the country and to Great Britain, enjoying for a few years an extraordinary vogue, not only in schools, but in all classes and ages of society. In the United States inter-city and inter-state matches were not unknown. According to the generally recognized rules a competitor who misspelled a word retired, and the match was won by the side having the greatest number of survivors at the close. The use of the word " bee " as an assemblage of persons for the purpose of joint work or play originated in America in colonial times, and was taken from the labour of the bees of a hive. Familiar examples of it are huskingbee and quilting-bee, assemblages of villagers for the purpose of helping a neighbour with the husking of the corn or his wife with her quilt-making.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)