WASHINGTON -- Ashwin Veeramani, of North Royalton, conquered "conquistador," and he aced "acotyledon" at the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee-becoming one of 42 kids to advance to Thursday's semifinals.

But the 13-year-old - a 7th grader at Incarnate Word Academy - was stumped by "amimia".

"It felt great to make it to the semifinals. I kind of wasn't as nervous as I was yesterday," said Veeramani.

"I had never seen the word before," he said, but thought he "could piece it together," by asking the definition and origin.

Veeramani missed one letter in the word, which means the loss or impairment of the power to communicate or use facial expression to convey emotion because of facial paralysis or other cause. "It was pretty crushing but I kind of felt like I did try my best ... and that's all I can do."

Veeramani, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do who likes to read the Wall Street Journal, was among the 30 or so spellers knocked out in Thursday's competition, before the final round.

He said he spent 20 to 25 hours per week studying and preparing, saying spelling helps him be "focused and disciplined."

Competitive spelling runs in his family. His older sister, Anamika, won the bee in 2010.

He says he plans to make another try next year.

Twelve spellers will advance to tonight's finals.

The winner will take more than $30,000 in cash and prizes.

This year's bee included the first vocabulary tests in the competition's history. The scores were combined with the onstage rounds to determine which spellers advanced.

By Deirdre Shesgreen, Gannett Washington Bureau