Indian-Origin Teenager Dev Shah Spells 'Psammophile', And Wins Spelling Bee 2023

“Psammophile,” his winning word, is described as an organism that lives in sandy areas.

South Asians
2 min read

Dev Shah, a 14-year-old Indian-origin from Largo, Florida, won the 95th Scripps National Spelling Bee trophy after spelling the word “psammophile” correctly.

Shah also won a whopping USD 50,000 cash prize along with the trophy.

“Psammophile,” his winning word, is described as an organism that lives in sandy areas.

The Florida teenager’s Spelling Bee career was interrupted by the COVID pandemic, after which he did not qualify for his regional spelling bee. Earlier this year, he got through his highly competitive regional spelling bee championship, which earned him a ticket to the national one. 

Dev previously appeared in the national spelling bee in 2019 and 2021.

In clarifying the origin and meaning of the word during the contest, he asked, “Psammo meaning sand, Greek?” He also inquired, “Phile, meaning love, Greek?”


Before giving his final answer, the 95th Scripps Spelling Bee winner asked the panel to use the word in a sentence, which he described as a useful stalling technique before the competition.

Charlotte Walsh, a 14-year-old from Arlington, Virginia, won second place. She gave Dev a congratulatory hug after he clinched his victory.

With just the two finalists, Dev and Charlotte left, Scripps brought out the buzzer used for its “spell-off” tiebreaker, during which Dev appeared slightly confused when he stepped to the microphone.

“This is not the spell-off, right?” Dev inquired. After it was confirmed that it was not, he impressively spelt the word “bathypitotmeter” correctly.

Dev is the 22nd champion in the past 24 years, with a South Asian heritage to win the coveted title.
“They’ve all been in many online bees, and many Scripps National Spelling Bees, and I felt like a spark and a camaraderie between all of us. I’m very grateful, and I’m privileged that I could be in a spelling bee with them one final time."
Dev Shah, winner of the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee

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