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, Dictionary.com.
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! :)
Jim Evers says
A YES post, Sue. Love it. “Serendipity” and “serendipitous” are favorites of mine, too. And your second paragraph echoes the tile of a memorial book that my family and I published on some of the poetry from my late wife. Title: I am Danced in Rhythms Incomprehensible.” She loved teasing a word until it led her to a poem. Thanks for the post. I’ll link it on my FB page. Jim
Hi Jim – thank you! And I love the title of your wife’s memorial book. I particularly like the twist in the way ‘dance’ is used. Instead of “I dance/danced“, to say “I am danced” conjures up a whole heap of lovely images about the music acting on the dancer instead of the dancer simply responding to the music. Beautiful. :)
I read about Phonaesthetics on Wikipedia recently and “cellar door” is actually very beautiful sounding and fun to say if you pronounce it with a British accent. Go ahead, try it! =) Sounds very French.
Thanks Steve … and you’ve certainly hit on something when you mention the French-sounding way of saying it! I’d never thought of this before … and wondered why on earth ‘cellar door’ might be chosen as one of the most beautiful-sounding words .
But if you think of it as being French, not English, it is ‘c’est l’adore’. Which, in English, means “this is love”. So perhaps all the folk who chose this as a beautiful-sounding phrase spoke French as well as English. ;)
I have to say one of my favourites would be the word nostalgia. It has quite a lovely meaning and a lovely sound to it as well!
Hi Britt – I agree! :) Nostalgia has a lovely sound and meaning as well.