103 Most Beautiful Words? You Decide

There’s a list of beautiful words going around the internet–the 100 most beautiful words, or so they claim. I love words. I’ve written


103 Most Beautiful Words? (image created in Wordle)

several posts about words in general and this one about the beauty of words. I’m always interested in adding to my list. Here’s their list:

100 Most beautiful words in the English language* 

  1. Ailurophile A cat-lover.
  2. Assemblage A gathering.
  3. Becoming Attractive.
  4. Beleaguer To exhaust with attacks.
  5. Brood To think alone.
  6. Bucolic In a lovely rural setting.
  7. Bungalow A small, cozy cottage.
  8. Chatoyant Like a cat’s eye.
  9. Comely Attractive.
  10. Conflate To blend together.
  11. Cynosure A focal point of admiration.
  12. Dalliance A brief love affair.
  13. Demesne Dominion, territory.
  14. Demure Shy and reserved.
  15. Denouement The resolution of a mystery.
  16. Desuetude Disuse.
  17. Desultory Slow, sluggish.
  18. Diaphanous Filmy.
  19. Dissemble Deceive.
  20. Dulcet Sweet, sugary.
  21. Ebullience Bubbling enthusiasm.
  22. Effervescent Bubbly.
  23. Efflorescence Flowering, blooming.
  24. Elision Dropping a sound or syllable in a word.
  25. Elixir A good potion.
  26. Eloquence Beauty and persuasion in speech.
  27. Embrocation Rubbing on a lotion.
  28. Emollient A softener.
  29. Ephemeral Short-lived.
  30. Epiphany A sudden revelation.
  31. Erstwhile At one time, for a time.
  32. Ethereal Gaseous, invisible but detectable.
  33. Evanescent Vanishing quickly, lasting a very short time.
  34. Evocative Suggestive.
  35. Fetching Pretty.
  36. Felicity Pleasantness.
  37. Forbearance Withholding response to provocation.
  38. Fugacious Fleeting.
  39. Furtive Shifty, sneaky.
  40. Gambol To skip or leap about joyfully.
  41. Glamour Beauty.
  42. Gossamer The finest piece of thread, a spider’s silk.
  43. Halcyon Happy, sunny, care-free.
  44. Harbinger Messenger with news of the future.
  45. Imbrication Overlapping and forming a regular pattern.
  46. Imbroglio An altercation or complicated situation.
  47. Imbue To infuse, instill.
  48. Incipient Beginning, in an early stage.
  49. Ineffable Unutterable, inexpressible.
  50. Ingénue A naïve young woman.
  51. Inglenook A cozy nook by the hearth.
  52. Insouciance Blithe nonchalance.
  53. Inure To become jaded.
  54. Labyrinthine Twisting and turning.
  55. Lagniappe A special kind of gift.
  56. Lagoon A small gulf or inlet.
  57. Languor Listlessness, inactivity.
  58. Lassitude Weariness, listlessness.
  59. Leisure Free time.
  60. Lilt To move musically or lively.
  61. Lissome Slender and graceful.
  62. Lithe Slender and flexible.
  63. Love Deep affection.
  64. Mellifluous Sweet sounding.
  65. Moiety One of two equal parts.
  66. Mondegreen A slip of the ear.
  67. Murmurous Murmuring.
  68. Nemesis An unconquerable archenemy.
  69. Offing The sea between the horizon and the offshore.
  70. Onomatopoeia A word that sounds like its meaning.
  71. Opulent Lush, luxuriant.
  72. Palimpsest A manuscript written over earlier ones.
  73. Panacea A solution for all problems
  74. Panoply A complete set.
  75. Pastiche An art work combining materials from various sources.
  76. Penumbra A half-shadow.
  77. Petrichor The smell of earth after rain.
  78. Plethora A large quantity.
  79. Propinquity Proximity; Nearness
  80. Pyrrhic Successful with heavy losses.
  81. Quintessential Most essential.
  82. Ratatouille A spicy French stew.
  83. Ravel To knit or unknit.
  84. Redolent Fragrant.
  85. Riparian By the bank of a stream.
  86. Ripple A very small wave.
  87. Scintilla A spark or very small thing.
  88. Sempiternal Eternal.
  89. Seraglio Rich, luxurious oriental palace or harem.
  90. Serendipity Finding something nice while looking for something else.
  91. Summery Light, delicate or warm and sunny.
  92. Sumptuous Lush, luxurious.
  93. Surreptitious Secretive, sneaky.
  94. Susquehanna A river in Pennsylvania.
  95. Susurrous Whispering, hissing.
  96. Talisman A good luck charm.
  97. Tintinnabulation Tinkling.
  98. Umbrella Protection from sun or rain.
  99. Untoward Unseemly, inappropriate.
  100. Vestigial In trace amounts.
  101. Wafture Waving.
  102. Wherewithal The means.
  103. Woebegone Sorrowful, downcast.

 Source: So Much To Tell You

–Article sponsored by Quality Essays in Beautiful Words That Will Impress Your Teacher

What do you think? Vestigial, susurrous, talisman… There are some beauties.

Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman.  She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, an Editorial Review Board member for SIGCT, an IMS tech expert, and a weekly/monthly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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43 thoughts on “103 Most Beautiful Words? You Decide

    • They are wonderful. At one point, I aggressively tried to use them in my fiction but ultimately found that I removed most when editing. They fit better in my blogging than my fiction.


  1. Hi Jacqui: just off the top of my head, I’d probably add plangent, consanguinity and wraith. Sanguine is a near perfect example of a word that conjures its own meaning and can be ‘stretched’ to say something subtly different, and such words create a metaphor in themselves. (onomatopoeia is a horrible word to spell, BTW, and not quite what I mean!) You have included redolent and of course it can also mean reminiscent of something – it reminds, brings you close to: it speaks, but softly.
    A great list, though. So many words that lie unused when they should be celebrated more often….


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  5. Conflate? Nemesis? Vestigial? Lassitude? Folks, I’ve got to attempt to set some standard here. A beautiful word (different from a beautiful concept) should embrace you in love or exotic mystery upon it’s utterance. “Acacia”, “Tree”, “Pillar”. “Breathe”, “Sound”… A beautiful word should draw you into the heart. Now I hate to be a snob (which I’m afraid I am about artistic stuff), but everyone is using this same list on their Most Beautiful Words page. It is pretty uninspired, but so is English in general. Look at a language like French or Sanskrit. For English, the most empowered speech I’ve ever heard is actually spiritual master named Adi Da Samraj, but there are definitely many others. Here’s to words that humble us in awe.


    • I want some words that can humble with a single syllable. I feel ‘acacia’ because it puts me on the savanna, like ‘baobab’. How about sesquipedalian, shingled, Sitzfleisch, tarradiddle (I actually used that in one of my novels and my writer’s group flayed me), tintinnabulation,
      triskaidekaphobia, verbolatry, zeitgeist?


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  7. I’ll link back here when I set the prompt on Monday then you can see what they all do with them. Have chosen carefully because as you say, some of the words are unknown to most people. I suppose that means they are not the most beautiful words ‘in usage’ then!


  8. I loved your list of words. I printed them out and pinned them to my bulletin board. That was a great idea. I had a radio interview yesterday in regards to my book and would have loved it if an impressive word or two would have come to mind while I was speaking. It’s so much easier to use them in writing. If you would like to know what I sound like, the interview will be broadcast Sunday at 4:00 pm Eastern time. All you have to do is go to http://toginet.com/ and click on the link at the top that says “Live on air.” Three authors will be interviewed for the hour program so I don’t know where I’ll be in the lineup. I was so nervous. But it’s a way for me to share my book with others. Katie


    • Congrats on your interview! I’ll be listening. I love social networks, but I miss that physical connection of seeing and hearing. Now, I’ll get that.

      I’m glad you like the list. I love a well-placed word.


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    • Bucolic–doesn’t at all say what it is. Makes me think of colic-y babies–not at all the peacefulness of a bucolic setting. there are a few authors–Elizabeth George comes to mind–who go out of their way to use a few beautiful words in each of their novels. I read her mysteries with that in mind.


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