Dev Shah wins National Spelling Bee with the word 'psammophile'

Dev Shah, 14, from Largo, Fla., celebrates with his family after winning the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., on Thursday. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
1 of 6 | Dev Shah, 14, from Largo, Fla., celebrates with his family after winning the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., on Thursday. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

June 1 (UPI) -- Dev Shah, a 14-year-old from Largo, Fla., won the Scripps National Spelling Bee title Thursday night after he correctly spelled the word "psammophile."

"Psammo meaning sand, Greek?" Shah asked, before correctly spelling the word. "Phile, meaning love, Greek?"


A psammophile is an organism that prefers to live in sandy soil.

Shah's win came after runner-up Charlotte Walsh, a 14-year-old from Arlington, Va., misspelled "daviely" -- an adverb of Scottish origin.

"It's surreal," Shah told The New York Times after his win. "My legs are still shaking."

After advancing through regional competitions, America's top student spellers competed Thursday for cash prizes and academic fame.

More than 200 students spelled their way through regional spelling bees to advance, and students competing represent all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


Students from Department of Defense schools in Europe took part, as well. And, according to the Scripps website, spellers also represent three countries outside the United States: the Bahamas, Canada and Ghana.

The 2022 Scripps Spelling Bee champion is 14-year-old Harini Logan from San Antonio, Texas.

As champion, she won a $50,000 cash prize, a commemorative medal and the Scripps Cup trophy. Other prizes included $2,500 in cash from Merriam-Webster and an Encyclopedia Britannica reference library.

The Scripps Spelling Bee started in 1925 when nine newspapers jointly hosted a spelling bee.

Here's a look at tonight's finalists.

Dhruv Subramanian is a 12-year-old seventh-grader from San Ramon, Calif., who loves music. He plays guitar for the school's rock band and is active in orchestra and jazz band at school. And, of course, he is an excellent speller, having won the NSF Junior Spelling Bee National Champion in 2019 and being named Alameda County Champion in 2020. He's in the top 10 in major national spelling bees.

Shradha Rachamreddy is learning the classical Indian dance Bharatanatyam in between spelling bees. She's 13 and in seventh grade. She's from the BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Upper School and previously competed in 2019 and 2022 spelling bees.


Vikrant Chintanaboina has been spelling competitively since second grade. He's 14 and in the eighth grade at Discovery Charter School-Falcon campus in California. In his spare time, he enjoys time outdoors and playing video games with his brother Ashvik.

Arth Dalsania is 14 and in eighth grade at the Thousand Oaks California Camarillo Academy of Progressive Education. He loves playing violin , tennis and chess. He wants to be an astrophysicist and solve the world's problems with science.

Dev Shah attends Largo, Florida's Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School and has many interests besides spelling. He plays cello, loves learning and, in his free time, calls friends and solves math problems with them. He likes historical fiction movies and reading historical fiction books.

Aryan Khedkar goes to Baker Middle School in Waterford, Mich. Reading, writing, solving math problems and singing are favorite pastimes. He plays bass clarinet in his school band and likes solving Rubik's Cube patterns.

Sarah Fernandes is an 11-year-old fifth-grader at St. Stephen the Martyr Catholic School in Omaha. She has played piano since she was 4, including at Carnegie Hall. She's won several competitions and played solo with a professional orchestra. She loves making digital art, reading and math.


Pranav Anandh is a 14-year-old Morton, Penn., student at Garnet Middle School who is passionate about robotics and science. He represented the United States in the World Robotics Olympiad in 2021-22.

Tarini Nandakumar is a 12-year-old sixth-grader from Austin, Texas' Challenger School -- Avery Ranch. Her many hobbies include reading, singing, dancing, building with LEGO and playing with her pets, Simba and Beau.

Surya Kapu is from Salt Lake City's American Preparatory Academy-Draper 3. He's a black belt in tae kwon do and likes playing the saxophone, chess and basketball. He's enjoyed spelling bees from an early age and is excited about participating this year.

Charlotte Walsh is from Merrifield, Virginia's Compass Homeschool Enrichment. She's testing for her black belt in tae kwon do after working toward it since she was 6 and plans to pursue either astrophysics or neuroscience when she grows up. She loves listening to music.

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