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What Is The Most Beautiful Word in English?

January 3, 2018

(image via wikimedia)

This might be one of those questions that doesn’t have a definitive answer.  How the heck do you judge the beauty of a word?

First of all, beauty is subjective, especially when it comes to sounds.  Most people can agree to some extent about what looks good/bad, smells good/bad, or feels good/bad.  But sounds can be polarizing.  Try getting a bunch of listeners to agree on the quality of a single tune or song, and everybody’s opinion will be different.

The idea of a beauty contest for words might seem strange, but Reader’s Digest published an article about a survey determining the most beautiful word in English.  According to the article, the survey chose people from non-English speaking countries and asked which word was the most beautiful.  And in case you haven’t read the Reader’s Digest article yet (it’s making the rounds on several news sites), the most beautiful word in the English language is…

Mother.

To me, mother is a cop-out.  Don’t get me wrong.  Everybody loves the concept of the word mother.  But mother is not the most beautiful sounding word.  It has -muh in it, like mud.  It has an -er in it, one of the most common sounds in English.  Mother.  It’s okay.  I don’t hate the word mother.  But most beautiful?  That’s cheating.

Maybe asking people who probably aren’t native English speakers isn’t the best approach.  They haven’t been exposed to enough/any words.  They might be more likely to go for the safe answer.  When I’m unfamiliar with a topic and I’m asked a question, I usually go for the safe answer.  For example:

Who will win the Super Bowl this year?

The New England Patriots.

What is the stock market going to do?

Keep going up with occasional dips.

What’s the most beautiful word in German?

There isn’t one. Hahahaha!

(I can say that because my ancestors were German.)

Of course, non-native English speakers should participate in the survey, but it shouldn’t be exclusive to them.  Everybody should be included.  Don’t worry, I’m not offended that anybody got left out.  I just think the sample was chosen incorrectly.

Plus, the survey had only 70 word choices, and that seems limiting for a survey.  I’ve never counted every single word in the English language, but I think the number 70 seems a bit small.  Maybe the people being surveyed could have chosen from the words they already knew.

One possibility for the most beautiful word in English is melodious.  It sounds good, and the meaning kind of matches its sound.  I didn’t put much thought into this, though, so I’m sure there are better choices.

Schlock is my favorite word because it sounds vulgar (it isn’t) and it describes most of what I read and write.

Share is my least favorite word because I don’t like sharing and a former boss used to tell us to “shay-air” ideas so she could take credit for the best ones.

Moist and slacks are supposedly the most annoying words in English, and nobody likes moist slacks.  Moist slacks can be really annoying.  And they’re probably not beautiful.

*****

Rating words is fun to do, but I’m only one person.  What do you think is the most beautiful word in English?

One Comment
  1. Judy permalink

    My favorite word consists of two words, at least when I went to school. It’s “window sill”. It’s especially pretty when you softly blow out air when pronouncing the “w”.

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