100 Most Beautiful Words in the English Language


Image via Wikipedia

I found this list from a suggestion by StumbleUpon.  The spotter was a fellow named Shonara, and his source is credited at the end.

It’s a lovely list.  Got any favorite words you’d like to add?

Ailurophile A cat-lover.
Assemblage A gathering.
Becoming Attractive.
Beleaguer To exhaust with attacks.
Brood To think alone.
Bucolic In a lovely rural setting.
Bungalow A small, cozy cottage.
Chatoyant Like a cat’s eye.
Comely Attractive.
Conflate To blend together.
Cynosure A focal point of admiration.
Dalliance A brief love affair.
Demesne Dominion, territory.
Demure Shy and reserved.
Denouement The resolution of a mystery.
Desuetude Disuse.
Desultory Slow, sluggish.
Diaphanous Filmy.
Dissemble Deceive.
Dulcet Sweet, sugary.
Ebullience Bubbling enthusiasm.
Effervescent Bubbly.
Efflorescence Flowering, blooming.
Elision Dropping a sound or syllable in a word.
Elixir A good potion.
Eloquence Beauty and persuasion in speech.
Embrocation Rubbing on a lotion.
Emollient A softener.
Ephemeral Short-lived.
Epiphany A sudden revelation.
Erstwhile At one time, for a time.
Ethereal Gaseous, invisible but detectable.
Evanescent Vanishing quickly, lasting a very short time.
Evocative Suggestive.
Fetching Pretty.
Felicity Pleasantness.
Forbearance Withholding response to provocation.
Fugacious Fleeting.
Furtive Shifty, sneaky.
Gambol To skip or leap about joyfully.
Glamour Beauty.
Gossamer The finest piece of thread, a spider’s silk.
Halcyon Happy, sunny, care-free.
Harbinger Messenger with news of the future.
Imbrication Overlapping and forming a regular pattern.
Imbroglio An altercation or complicated situation.
Imbue To infuse, instill.
Incipient Beginning, in an early stage.
Ineffable Unutterable, inexpressible.
Ingénue A naïve young woman.
Inglenook A cozy nook by the hearth.
Insouciance Blithe nonchalance.
Inure To become jaded.
Labyrinthine Twisting and turning.
Lagniappe A special kind of gift.
Lagoon A small gulf or inlet.
Languor Listlessness, inactivity.
Lassitude Weariness, listlessness.
Leisure Free time.
Lilt To move musically or lively.
Lissome Slender and graceful.
Lithe Slender and flexible.
Love Deep affection.
Mellifluous Sweet sounding.
Moiety One of two equal parts.

Mondegreen A slip of the ear.
Murmurous Murmuring.
Nemesis An unconquerable archenemy.
Offing The sea between the horizon and the offshore.
Onomatopoeia A word that sounds like its meaning.
Opulent Lush, luxuriant.
Palimpsest A manuscript written over earlier ones.
Panacea A solution for all problems

Panoply A complete set.
Pastiche An art work combining materials from various sources.
Penumbra A half-shadow.
Petrichor The smell of earth after rain.
Plethora A large quantity.
Propinquity Proximity; Nearness
Pyrrhic Successful with heavy losses.
Quintessential Most essential.
Ratatouille A spicy French stew.
Ravel To knit or unknit.
Redolent Fragrant.

Riparian By the bank of a stream.
Ripple A very small wave.
Scintilla A spark or very small thing.
Sempiternal Eternal.
Seraglio Rich, luxurious oriental palace or harem.
Serendipity Finding something nice while looking for something else.
Summery Light, delicate or warm and sunny.
Sumptuous Lush, luxurious.
Surreptitious Secretive, sneaky.
Susquehanna A river in Pennsylvania.
Susurrous Whispering, hissing.
Talisman A good luck charm.
Tintinnabulation Tinkling.
Umbrella Protection from sun or rain.
Untoward Unseemly, inappropriate.
Vestigial In trace amounts.
Wafture Waving.
Wherewithal The means.
Woebegone Sorrowful, downcast.
Source: So Much To Tell You


15 responses to “100 Most Beautiful Words in the English Language

  1. (aka Huffygirl)
    Now, can you use all of them in one story? Or maybe challenge your readers to do so?


    • Just so you know, I inserted “(aka Huffygirl)” in your three comments so nobody has to wonder who you are. When I get time I will pop over to your other blog and have a peek. As for your question re using them all in one story, I’m not sure I have the patience to try, but if any reader would like to try her hand at it, have at it, my friends!


  2. This is great! I love the way many of these just roll off the tongue!


    • They do, don’t they? Words like these remind me of Tolkien’s elfin language. Good day in that language is Mai govannen. Pretty, isn’t it?

      The thing I like best about English, compared to some other languages, is that it has a wide range of moods just by the sound. Words derived from Anglo-Saxon tend to be very straightforward and convey the meaning in an authoritative way…such as fight, watch, look, halt, and so on. Latin-derived words tend to be more graceful…such as most of the words on this list.


  3. There are some beautiful words in the English language. I like zither, and hither, and yon. 😀


    • Those are nice words too. Isn’t it funny that “yon” is pretty, while “yawn” not so much? English has many nuances that go deep. I suppose other languages do too, depending on what’s important to them. Like in Klingon, there is no word for “love.” That’s pretty telling.

      I suspect it is the same in Earth languages. I’ve heard of some but can’t remember them now. Do you remember any?


  4. Love the list, SBK – and it fits in so well with my post tomorrow! Wednesday’s word and picture: facinorous! Tune in to find out its less-than-beautiful definition, however. Just couldn’t resist sneaking in a little advertisement!

    I am a lover of words, and the words I love are far too numerous to even begin to count, and the top of the list is constantly changing. One of my favorites, because it sounds so much like what it is: onomatopoeia – which makes the word even more wonderful and descriptive.


    • Whoops! I hit “Post Comment” before I was finished! Meant to say that I am glad it was on the list. . .one word that isn’t on the list is “pabouche.” A pabouche is a slipper. So much more fun to put a pabouche on your foot than an ordinary old slipper, or a mule, God forbid! 😆


      • Your post(s) just made me smile out loud. I’ll have to read your post tomorrow if I’m still here. Been coughing up a bit of blood and doctor says fluid in lungs = hospital. I should be home by the weekend though.

        I LOVE the word pabouche! I’ve never heard it, but I am going to add it to my lexicon and happily use it in my next story. I’ve always liked onomatopoeia, just the sound of it is rhythm.

        Thanks for dropping by. Hope your hand is feeling better by leaps and bounds.


        • Oh SAY IT AIN’T SO, Sandra! I am sooooo sorry! I absolutely DETEST being in hospital – and that is regardless of the great care I receive, etc. Please take care of yourself, and if the hospital is necessary (sometimes, alas, it is!), that you will get better a,s,a,p, and back home (where real sleep is much more possible!)!

          My hand is what it is. . .more surgery (but I am assuming outpatient – better be, anyway!)


          • I’m on a pass from the hospital to make my monthly toe care appointment, so I popped home for a while. Things are going okay, and I think I am going to feel much better soon. I don’t really mind our little town’s hospital. It is small and friendly, and the food’s good. The nurses are (nearly) all nice and I know a lot of them by name.

            Thanks for your concern. I’ll be back before you know it.


  5. Fascinating! Don’t you just love the English language . . .


  6. Yay, a few new words on this list for me to play with that I had never actually heard or seen before. Thanks for posting it. I love new words!


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