Archives for February 2011


Beautiful-Sounding Words in English

If I were asked to choose the most beautiful-sounding words in the English language, I’d be very hard-pressed to do so!

For me, words are like musical notes. It’s only when they dance together in phrases and sentences, that they create beautiful symphonies … or sometimes crashing disharmonies, for that matter. :)

If I’d thought about it at all, I would never have considered “cellar door” would be held up as one of the most beautiful-sounding  – or euphonic – word combinations!

Yet that’s what I learned from this post on The Hot Word – which is the blog section of the very popular online reference source,


It was also fascinating to browse through the comments on that post, where readers suggested their own choices.

A later post on The Hot Word shared a list of words that had been most commonly mentioned by readers.

What was at the top of that list?


And I have to agree that serendipity is a beautiful word – but not only because of its sound.  It’s always been a favourite word of mine because of its meaning.

Other words people suggested most frequently included: soliloquy, epiphany, Elysium and elysian, scissors, vivacious, fudge, telephony, nycthemeron, cinnamon, woodthrush, phosphorescence, lithe, and languorous.

By the way … did you find yourself, as I did, reading that list aloud to hear its music?

What would be your choice? If you’ve got a favourite word or word combination that’s music to your ears, please drop me a line! :)


The Book Thief

I have just finished reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusack, and loved it!

It’s told from an unusual perspective, because the narrator is Death – though he doesn’t really like that name, or (even worse) “The Grim Reaper”.

It tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a child in Nazi Germany, and I thought it beautifully written!

Such wonderful turns of phrase! So many places where I paused in my reading, just to savour the language or the description.

Here is an example, taken from a passage where Liesel was fighting a young schoolmate, Ludwig Schmeikl, in the playground:

Oh, how the clouds stumbled in and assembled in the sky.
Great obese clouds.
Dark and plump.
Bumping into each other. Apologising. Moving on and finding room.
Children were there, quick as … well, quick as kids gravitating towards a fight. A stew of arms and legs, of shouts and cheers, grew thicker around them. They were watching Liesel Meminger give Ludwig Schmeikl the hiding of a lifteime. “Jesus, Mary and Joseph,’ a girl commentated with a shriek, ‘she’s going to kill him!’

Or here’s another passage – a description of a Nazi book burning in the town square:

The orange flames waved at the crowd as paper and print dissolved inside them. Burning words were torn from their sentences.
On the other side, beyond the blurry heat, it was possible to see the brown shirts and swastikas joining hands. You didn’t see people. Only uniforms and signs.
Birds above did laps.
They circled, somehow attracted to the glow … until they came too close to the heat. Or was it the humans? Certainly the heat was nothing.

And at the end of that day … ‘the dark came in pieces‘ …

Beautiful stuff!