December 23, 2010

"The 100 Most Beautiful Words in English."

Click. Hey, for me, click is one of the most beautiful words. But the words on this list tend to be multisyllabic with aesthetically pleasing sounds: evanescent, efflorescence, effervescent, emollient.

(Via ALOTT5MA.)

57 comments:

Original Mike said...

I nominate tomosynthesis. It's a lovely word.

chuck b. said...

Celadon.

traditionalguy said...

They all sound French to me.

Hoosier Daddy said...

whiskey

Lincolntf said...

Manure.

It's "Ma", which is good, and "newer" which is also good. Manure.

asdf said...

'erstwhile' depends entirely on whether you have a rhotic accent or not. It's a pretty horrible sounding word for those of us with.

traditionalguy said...

Noel is a seasonal word that means " now wellness has come".

jayne_cobb said...

"Susquehanna: A river in Pennsylvania"


Proper nouns should not be allowed.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

My two perennial favourites are:

ABSTEMIOUSLY

and

FACETIOUSLY

If there are other words in our mother-tongue in which the six vowels appear in order, I'm not aware of them.

English is utterly unique in that it is remarkably easy to learn at a basic functional level. A thousand words of vocabulary along with the few essentials of grammar and you're in business.

Mastery of English, however, eludes us all, including (by his own admission) Churchill. It is my native tongue yet after more than 60 years of speaking it ... there are "miles to go before I sleep."

In contrast, nearly 40 years ago I opted to have a real estate sales contract draughted in French -- I was in Québec after all -- because it was easier to understand than English legal jargon. At that point I could order a beer in French, but little more.

English is a remarkably lovable monster.

Irene said...

Swish.

traditionalguy said...

Tallulah is such a pleasant sounding native American name that the latest tribes here borrowed it from older tribes here without ever knowing what it means.That phenomenon may be at work in Alaskan Eskimos and their families who often refudiate nonsense.

James said...

Shenandoah

One proper noun deserves another.

Cellar door

Yes, I'm cheating.

Epiglottal

I like it because to pronounce it you must use the thing itself.

Clyde said...

"Pyrrhic" is on the list? That's not a pretty word to anyone who knows what it means!

HKatz said...

Brouhaha is a fun word (but more fun than beautiful).

traditionalguy said...

James...I always like Philatelist. That is the DADT word among stamp collectors.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

I remember a poem from a school textbook (6th grade?) that stuck with me ever since, titled "The Ballad of Beautiful Words." Found it online just now; it's credited to John T. McCutcheon:

Amethyst, airy, drifting, dell,
Oriole, lark, alone,
Columbine, kestrel, temple bell,
Madrigal, calm, condone.

Sovereign, splendor, spandrel, spire,
Sagamore, sylvan, rain,
Heraldry, helmsman, homeward, pyre,
Lavender, primrose, plain.

Dominion, destiny, danger, dare;
Revelry, drone, dragoon,
Tourmaline, treasure, fortune, fair,
Olden, gold, doubloon.

Galleon, gauntlet, garrison, gale,
Admiral, grenadier,
Arena, aroma, armor, ale,
Cardinal, bandolier.

Charity, gloaming, garnering, grain,
Curfew, candle, loam,
Benison, mother, lassie, swain,
Children, evening, home.

James said...

traditional guy:

I used to collect stamps.

But not philately.

(ducking)

LordSomber said...

Actually, "click" probably comes from the German "Klick," "klicken/klickern."

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Of course, McCutcheon has only 70 words there, but I'd take that list over Beard's 100 any day. ("Embrocation"? Are you sh*ttin' me?). I am keeping "ailurophile," though. Not because it's a beautiful word, but because it's a ridiculously elaborate way to say "I like cats."

MadisonMan said...

I like that some of the english words are direct borrows from french. Ratatouille, for example.

Salamandyr said...

I am partial to "salamander", which is why it's my name.

Drew said...

Is "fluorescent" in there?



wv: "broupe" -- probably not on the list. Sounds like a belch.

peter hoh said...

The most beautiful phrase: You were right.

Michael said...

callipygous

traditionalguy said...

Names can be nice sounding too. The name Ann is one of my favorites. It means "prayer". It has nothing to do with liking Ann of Madison Gables.

traditionalguy said...

Peter Hoh...you were right.

madAsHell said...

Actually, "click" probably comes from the German "Klick," "klicken/klickern."

Actually, most of the English language is from the German.....and then William the Conqueror showed up, and infused the English language with the French.

This explains the title "attorney general" with the adjective behind the noun....and some other quirks.

john bord said...

thank You for the list.... A few words I want to use in some of my stories. There is also a challenge for usage.

k*thy said...

Swaddlng (clothes).

edutcher said...

They forgot many dear to guys' hearts

buxom

bosom

passionate

sensuous

succulent

and, of course, Ann's fave:

breast

Michael said...

callipygous

Beautiful buttocks - definitely!

ken in sc said...

I see bungalow on the list. Bungalow is borrowed word from some Asian language, Hindi or Thai or something like that. It brings back memories. When I was in Thailand in 1972, we had an squadron admin officer, a certain 2Lt W. He met a girl downtown that he wanted to spend some more time with. She said she had no where they could go, so he took her to his room in the Ubon Hotel. It was the fanciest joint in town but he wasn't paying for it, Uncle Sam put him up there. It was about equivalent to a Motel 6 here in the States.

The next morning, the girl felt guilty because she thought he had paid for the most expensive hotel in town just to be with her. She said, “I have confession. I have bungalow.” Meaning she had a place they could have gone at no charge, actually a sweet girl.

Lt. W. jumped out of bed and raced to the base and reported to the dispensary because he had been exposed to the bungalows.

Ann Althouse said...

"The name Ann is one of my favorites."

Thanks. To me, it's a ridiculously plain name. Often used as a middle name, as if it's mostly a place keeper.

James said...

Lt. W. jumped out of bed and raced to the base and reported to the dispensary because he had been exposed to the bungalows.

Heh....

Is it bad form to question the veracity of this story?

john said...

Salient

and it's antonym:

Reentrant

To me these terms have always been so visual, lyrical.

john said...

Salients and reentrants, (for those who thought they were computer programming terms).

LordSomber said...

"Actually, most of the English language is from the German.....and then William the Conqueror showed up, and infused the English language with the French."

Well, Germanic, technically. German a thousand years ago was a little different than modern day German.

The words beginning in cl- and kl- are giveaways than the word is Germanic or Norse in origin.

David said...

Yes.

sonicfrog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larry J said...

I always thought "paid in full" on my mortgage were the most beautiful words in the English language. To each his own, I guess.

sonicfrog said...

Harbinger... Incipient... Lilt... Tinny sort of words, don't you think?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gwXJsWHupg

VerWord: preulap - Sort of PVC sort of word, don't you know.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Fellatio

It just rolls off the tongue.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Professor Althouse used to be a supporter of President Clinton, but unlike Monica, not fellately.

Lucien said...

I'm glad someone got "cellar door" into the comments (though without the Donnie Darko hat-tip).

For Dorothy Parker, of course, the top two were "check enclosed" -- which now seems oddly obsolete.

Sorry they missed "ensorcelled" though.

James said...

Lucien

I didn't "hat tip" donnie darko because I learned of someone's naming "cellar door" decades before Mr and Mrs Darko got together.

knox said...

"fluorescent" ??

Shame on you.

Incandescent.

Almost Ali said...

Almost meaningless, all those words by themselves. Each an island unto itself? Even the best need words to help them into the garden.

Like midnight, good, and evil to enter: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Bob Ellison said...

I'm fond of "onomatopoeia" because it's useful both as a word and as a sentence.

donttread2010 said...

Serendipity wins but only because I thought propinquity was a lock.

ErnieG said...

Not a word, but a phrase, after nearly 50 years, "I do" is still beautiful.

Freeman Hunt said...

Emollient sounds fatty.

I like my words crisp.

Freeman Hunt said...

Saying "emollient" feels like eating a hunk of milk chocolate. Except that there's no chocolate taste. Unsatisfying.

Timon said...

The three most pleasing words in the English language are cellar door soup.

Patrick said...

No word sounds more like what it means than "peon"

Stephen said...

Many of these words have assonance, which is on my most-beautiful list. However, its inclusion would have made this project the butt of too many jokes.

Rosemary in Utah said...

Tucumcari, a city in New Mexico. (Pronounced just like
2 come carry)

Methadras said...

Ungoliant

Armani said...

Tne of the most confusing aspects of Donnie Darko is following the two separate timelines.
Donnie Darko Explanation