423b2e
423b2e

5.23.2012

the 100 most beautiful words in English














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.

xxx


20 comments:

witnessing am i said...

Between the amazingly delicious images on your blogs and the lovely (use of and inclusion of) words, I am beside myself.

I would like to bath in this list, if you don't mind. Loverly.

Lin said...

I like "dirigible". Such a lovely word for "blimp". Cool list!

soubriquet said...

I love these words, well, I love words, and many or most of these I use.
Luckily for me, there are a few people... well, one, the Red Dirt Girl, who actually understands them. It's a sad state of affairs that we have such an expressive language, yet we're not encouraging children to use words like these. I refer here to british children. Something I greatly admire in American schooling is the spelling bee. We had it when I was a kid, but it's died out here.

I have, though I dare not enumerate... several disagreements with definitions in the list.
And a few where clarification is fascinating...
Mondegreen, for instance, relates to a confusion in misheard lyrics of a song, it comes from a folk song, where a line, " And laid him on the green" was often misinterpreted by listeners as "And Lady Mondegreen".
As for Dirigibles, some blimps, but not all, are dirigibles, and some dirigibles, but not all, are blimps.
Bungalow, I'm in one now, the definitive feature of a bungalow is that it is single-storeyed. Most bungalows are not small cozy cottages, and most small cozy cottages are not bungalows.
Bungalow is a word which draws its origin fronm the british empire's occupation of India. Umbrella, originally a sunshade, latterly a rainshade. leaving 'Parasol' to be the solar protector. Bumbershoot's a nice synonym.
Espousal, there's another good word. XXX!

red dirt girl said...

Mr. Wit,

Your comment makes me smile. I love when you gambol amidst words and images with your natural ebullience...your presence here is always a lagniappe.

Pretty cool how I did that, right ??
:) xxx

red dirt girl said...

Hi Lin!

Meeting you has been serendipitous!! Glad you like the list :)

xxx

red dirt girl said...

Soubry ~ I love words, too, and as you know, I have a tendency to conflate my words (hence the red dirt dictionary!) Many of these are favorites, but some I did not know - such as mondegreen. I love your additional notes on the definitions. Words are endlessly fascinating to me. I was hoping this post might spark some of my readers to add their own personal favorites to the list. Because I do this, periodically (when I've been actively reading) I begin a list of favored words with the intention to write such a post ... but then I misplace my list; stop reading each night; the moment becomes fugacious...

So please, by all means, annotate, append away!

Me, I like sagacity and inexorable and phosphorescence and I keep trying to use the word propensity when I speak to you, but I always mess up the pronunciation...

I shall have to start a new list!

xxxxx

red dirt girl said...

PS. Is it odd that I love words and word lists but find crossword puzzles to be .. puzzling and not very much fun at all ??!!

xxx

gz said...

mmmm, painting with words!!

soubriquet said...

Conflate my dirigibles,
Beleaguer my bungalows,
Dally in my demesne.

I shall call an assemblage of ailurophobes, at which I shall serve a chatoyant dessert.

"They told me last night there were ships in the offing,
And I hurried down to the deep rolling sea;
But my eye could not see it, wherever might be it,
The barque that is bearing my lover to me."

goatman said...

I like to dust my tchotchkes when bored trying to relive the zeitgeist extant when found.

You will find vertically penned dashes in my books marking particularly functional similes or word usage.
Words can involve usages but not all usages involve words, as a rule --

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Oh yes! (Swoons)

red dirt girl said...

hi gz!

funny how oft times we die for words, the right words ..... then there are times when no words are needed ...

indeed word painting is an art!
xxx

Anonymous said...

I'm fond of Riparian, being something of a river person, but I don't think I've ever used the word without following it with Buffer, the same way I always follow Homeostatic with Mechanism. How else would you use it? I love the karstland, especially when I'm running through it. I'm not Gregarious or Glib, but I love the words. Athwart is underused but I never miss a chance. I use Capricious occasionally but I don't recall ever using Caprice, which is my failure. I edit myself sometimes, but I wonder, am I really doing my partner a favor by substituting "slow, grinding boredom" for Ennui?

Hi mule friend!

red dirt girl said...

Soub - I see you there in your bucolic bungalow, brooding so becomingly (not fetching as it tends to be a girly word) while I tend to the gossamer webs in the inglenook, their existence now quite ephemeral. Halcyon days these are while listening to your mellifluous voice read aloud my favored poets. A redolent ratatouille wafts from the kitchen (made by your hand, not mine). It's a murmurous love, an elixir to my beleaguered heart.

xxxxx

red dirt girl said...

Oh goatman, I do love tchotchkes and zeitgeist together ...!!!

Once marked, do you ever return to those passages?

Is it something like all collies are dogs but not all dogs are collies ?? I was never very good at word problems in math!

xxx

red dirt girl said...

Cosmo! A man after my own heart who swoons in the presence of a beautiful word ...

xxx

red dirt girl said...

Dave!!! Yay! I feel so ebullient finding you here. Your additions are most erudite. And ennui wins hands down every time .... pairs quite nicely with desultory, you riparian ...buffer ?

xxx
good to see you!

soubriquet said...

Funnily enough, about a year ago, or mayhap two, I was up to my elbows in riparian matters. We had a problem with a drain at work, that ran off our premises onto somebody else's land. Multiple somebodies. And we'd tried to send a camera down it but the old victorian stone-built culvert had collapsed, and was blocked with mud and roots, it was adequate still on a normally rainy day, but in a downpour it overflowed, flooding our buildings. And the crux of the matter, when it came to whose problem it was to fix it, came down to riparian rights, which are those rights and duties pertaining unto the owners of the banks of a watercourse.
Because, it transpired, the local water authority, and the city council have a shared duty to maintain drains. But they both contended that this was not, strictly speaking, a drain. Instead it was a culverted stream, a natural watercourse, lined, covered, in victorian times, and therefore the responsibility of the landowners. Us.
So I was set to researching old maps and ancient land deeds, which was fascinating, not least because much of the company's archives was reviewed and catalogued by my father at various times in the past, I kept finding little notes and cross-references in his unmistakeable flowing copperplate handwriting.

The end conclusion? We had riparian rights, and our responsibility ended at our property boundary, and as far as the law was concerned, we could just knock a hole in the culvert at the edge of our patch, and let it flood the houses below. It would become their problem. When we pointed this out to the city, and the fact that the city owned the houses in line with the proposed flood, all of a sudden they became a little more co-operative. We agreed to do the work to lay a new culvert and joint it into an existing main drain, if they and the water authority shared the costs, otherwise? well, they could put on their rubber boots and deal with evacuating an old man from his house when we opened the floodgates.
They agreed to pay up.
Riparian rights.


Dave Mows Grass is a riparian rill-ripper.

goatman said...

I do sometimes come across a marked passage in a book I have read but its usually a sidecar when looking for something else.
Well can you give an example? Well, yes I can. On p 307 of Poe Ballantine's "Decline of the Lawrence Welk Empire" I see marked:
"A madman and a sorcerer he undoubtedly is, but he brought me coconuts. He called me "the man who walks." I took enough psychology to know that people who intend to kill you do not bring coconuts or assign you respectful, Indian-sounding sobriquets."

I know not why I marked this -- doesn't seem that special. Sometimes I wonder if someone who thinks they are me comes in and marks some of this stuff to cause me pause. But my pause is caused alot lately ; so their efforts are fruitless.

red dirt girl said...

I liked the few essays I read by Poe Ballantine in the Sun. I could see where those words might make one pause and think, hmmmm ...? Maybe you were compiling a list of traits for would be goatman assassins and were able to mark off: brings me coconuts; nicknames me interesting sobriquets; from the list. Pausing is not such a bad thing I'ma thinkin.

xxx