The Most Beautiful Words in the English Language

alex atkins bookshelf wordsWilfred Funk, Jr. (1883-1965) was the son of Isaac Kaufmann Funk, founder of Funk & Wagnalls that published very popular sets of encyclopedias and dictionaries in the mid 1900s. Funk was literally a man of letters (and words): he was president of Funk & Wagnalls, founder of his own book publishing company, founder and editor of The Literary Digest, wrote poetry, wrote several books on vocabulary and etymology, and wrote the “It Pays to Enrich Your Word Power” column for Reader’s Digest. That’s a lot of writing and words — perhaps that what Lipps Inc were talking about when they asked, “Won’t you take me to Funkytown?” [An American disco song from the 1979 album Mouth to Mouth that you either love or loathe. Caution: this song can become a long-lasting earworm, so listen at your own peril. You’ve been warned! On a related note, fans of NBC’s Parenthood, will recall that the Bravermans added an entirely new meaning to funky town [S4E2]…)

In 1932, to publicize the publication of one of Funk & Wagnalls new dictionaries, Funk published a list of what he considered, after a “thorough sifting of thousands of words” the ten most beautiful words (in his words, “beautiful in meaning and in the musical arrangement of their letter”) in the English language. (Incidentally, there is a word for that: euphonious — a euphonious word is a beautifully- sounding word; interestingly, euphonious is itself… euphonious.) Here is Funk’s list of the top ten most beautiful words in the English language:

chimes
dawn
golden
hush
lullaby
luminous
melody
mist
murmuring
tranquil

But a top ten list is so restrictive. Funk was in a bit of a… well, funk. To break out of it, he subsequently published a more extensive list of the most beautiful words in the English language in a column for Reader’s Digest:

alysseum
amaryllis
anemone
asphodel
bobolink
camellia
cerulean
chalice
chimes
damask
dawn
fawn
golden
gossamer
halcyon
hush
jonquil
lullaby
luminous
marigold
melody
mignonette
mist
murmuring
myrrh
oleander
oriole
rosemary
tendril
thrush
tranquil

What do you consider to be the most beautiful words in the English language? Let’s talk about it, talk about it…

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Read related posts:  What is the Most Beautiful-Sounding Word in English?
How Long Does it Take to Read a Million Words?
How Many Words in the English Language?
How Many Words Does the Average Person Speak in a Lifetime?
The Most Mispronounced Words
Common Latin Abbreviations
Words Invented by Dickens


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