The most beautiful words in the English language

2 min read

If you stop to absorb a beautiful sunset or buy fresh flowers every week, you might appreciate the poetry of language as well. For words that sound as beautiful as their meanings, look no further. These words roll off the tongue with a rhythm that’ll have you saying them over and over.


You might recognize this word as short for aurora borealis (also known as the northern lights). Aurora can also be another word for dawn, so no matter what the connotation, an aurora is bright, colorful, and inspiring.


The definition of mellifluous also describes the word itself. Mellifluous means to have a pleasant, musical sound. You can practically sing the word. People typically use the word to describe someone’s voice. Morgan Freeman in particular has a mellifluous voice.


Felicity is a beautiful word — not just because of how it sounds or what it means, but because of how it feels. Felicity, in one context, means intense happiness. In another, it means eloquence and finding the perfect words to express your thoughts. Given how hard it can be to express ourselves, felicity is any word lover’s dream.


Not all lovely English words are long or even multisyllabic. Lithe is short, sweet, and evokes an image of grace. If you’ve ever seen a ballet dancer, you’ve seen lithe in person — tall, lean, flexible, and agile.


This word’s rising and falling syllables make it true to its definition. Scintillating is both a verb and an adjective and means sparkling. It stands out in every sense —whether you say it or see it.


Visceral’s beauty comes from its depth and the intensity of its sound. When you say the word, it feels like it comes from deep within your chest. A visceral emotion comes from pure, deep emotion with no logic involved. The viscera is part of the nervous system, so visceral also refers to the nerves (though the intense, emotional definition is more poetic).


Effervescence is a word that makes you feel good. It is bubbly — both in a carbonated drink or in a person who brims with enthusiasm. Effervescent people usually have contagious laughter. You can’t help but love them.


Gossamer with its hard “G" might not be a word you'd expect to hear when discussing delicate things. Once you repeat it a few times, however, you feel how gentle it is. You feel the silkiness of the word and it starts to feel like a cloud you can sink into.


Halcyon sounds like a powerful word and in many ways, it is. Sometimes it refers to peaceful days gone by, which sounds like a dream. It’s also a bird — both real (a kingfisher) and mythical. The mythical version of a halcyon once lived at sea and had the power to calm water and wind.


The beauty of surreptitious comes from its sound, but also its mystery. The word itself is like a whisper, which is probably what you’re doing if you’re keeping secrets as the word implies.

Photo credit: Luke Stackpoole/ Unsplash

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