What is the meaning of Murraya? 2021 National Spelling Bee winning word explained

Mafalda Costa July 9, 2021
What is the meaning of Murraya? 2021 National Spelling Bee winning word explained
Photo by JIM WATSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

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What is the meaning of Murraya? After 14-year-old Zaila Avant-garde became the first African-American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the competition’s fans grew curious about the meaning of the winning word Murraya.

2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee comes to a close

The Scripps National Spelling Bee (commonly called the National Spelling Bee) is an annual spelling bee held in the United States.

Although most of its participants are from the US, students from countries such as the Bahamas, Canada, China, India, Ghana, Japan, Jamaica, Mexico, and New Zealand have also competed in recent years.

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This year’s competition was won by Zaila Avant-garde, who became the first African-American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 93 editions of the competition after spelling the word Murraya.

What is the correct pronunciation and meaning of the word Murraya?

“Murraya” was the winning word of the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

According to Merriam-Webster, the meaning of Murraya is: “A genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees (family Rutaceae) having pinnate leaves and flowers with imbricated petals.”

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The word, correctly spelt by 14-year-old Zaila Avant-garde, is phonetically pronounced “muh-ree-yuh”.

According to Newsweek, the genus was named after Johan Andreas Murray (1740-1791).

As claimed by JSTOR, a digital library of academic journals, books and other sources, Murray was a Swedish physician and botanist from Stockholm.

Murray studied under Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist and taxonomist who created binomial nomenclature, the formal system of naming organisms.

Who is Zaila Avant-garde, the 2021 Spelling Bee winner?

According to the competition website, Avant-garde is “an avid reader who demonstrated a strong interest in words from a very early age”.

The 14-year-old from Harvey, Louisiana, became the first African-American winner and only the second black champion in the bee’s 96-year history.

According to The Guardian, Zaila has described spelling as a side hobby, although she routinely practised for seven hours a day.

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She is also a basketball prodigy who hopes to play some day in the WNBA and holds three Guinness world records for dribbling multiple balls simultaneously.

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Mafalda Costa is a second year BA Journalism student originally from Portugal. Her main passions if life are music, arts and culture, while she's particularly knowledgable on cinema and anime.