Murraya Definition and Pronunciation of Winning Word From Scripps National Spelling Bee

A genus of plants known as Murraya was the winning word of the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The word was correctly spelled by Zaila Avant-garde, 14, whose win made her the first African American to win the 90-year-old competition on Thursday.

Avant-garde is the first Black contestant to win since 1998 when Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica won the bee.

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

In addition to her love for words and language, she enjoys "learning new things, playing basketball, listening to music and podcasts, and hanging out with her family," the website describes.

How to Pronounce Murraya

As said by Avant-garde at the competition, the word is phonetically pronounced "muh-ree-yuh."

13-year-old Zaila Avant-garde of Louisiana is your 93rd Scripps National #SpellingBee champion ‼️

The first African-American winner of the competition 👏 pic.twitter.com/y2Y5dAGcVN

— ESPN (@espn) July 9, 2021

Murraya Definition

Murraya is a genus belonging to the Rutaceae family, a citrus family of flowering plants.

The genus is found in Asia, Africa, Australia and New Caledonia, according to an excerpt from the book, Essential Oils in Food Preservation, Flavor and Safety, shared on the website of ScienceDirect, a database of scientific and medical journals and e-books.

According to a 2016 study published in Medicines, an international peer-reviewed journal, the genus consists of around 14 different species, such as Murraya paniculata, which is commonly known as orange jasmine.

M. paniculata is a "tropical evergreen shrub" native to the world's tropical and subtropical regions, including different parts of Asia and has been "widely naturalized" in southern Australia, the southeast of the U.S. and Central America, as noted in the 2016 study.

According to the study, it has "numerous uses in traditional medicine for treatment of abdominal pain, diarrhea, stomach ache, headache, edema, thrombosis, and blood stasis.

"Due to its hardiness and wide range of soil tolerance, orange jasmine is commonly used as a hedge. The leaves have been used as a food additive in many Indian and Malay dishes due to their strong fragrance," the study noted.

Murraya Name Origins

Singapore's National Parks government website says the genus was named after Johan Andreas Murray (1740-1791).

According to the website JSTOR, a digital library of academic journals, books and other sources, Murray was a Swedish physician and botanist from Stockholm who studied under Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist and taxonomist who created binomial nomenclature, the formal system of naming organisms.

Murray studied at Germany's University of Göttingen, where he was later appointed professor of medicine and botany and director of the Göttingen botanic garden, according to the website.

Zaila Avant-garde at 2021 National Spelling Bee.
Zaila Avant-garde pictured in the first round of the the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals in Orlando, Florida on July 8. She won the contest by correctly spelling the word "Murraya" in the final round. Jim Watson/Pool/AFP via Getty Images