The 60 Most Beautiful Words in the English Language—And How to Use Them
IT MIGHT NOT BE A ROMANCE LANGUAGE, BUT THERE ARE STILL A LOT OF PRETTY WORDS TO LOVE.
While languages like Portuguese and French are known for their romantic words and aesthetically pleasing phrases, there's a lot to say about the beauty of the English language. After all, English has brought us stunning, showstopper words such as incandescent and euphoria, mellifluous and demure. So if you're feeling inclined to increase your vocabulary while making it as easy on the ears as possible, then you're in for a serendipitous treat. Keep reading for 60 of the most beautiful words in the English language, which are guaranteed to make you absolutely ebullient.
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The Most Beautiful Words in the English Language
Back in the 17th century, the word cynosure was used interchangeably for the North Star, or the northern constellation Ursa Minor.
And while this is still the case, Merriam-Webster notes that anyone who is the "center of attention" or "serves to guide" can also be described as a cynosure.
Do you ever find yourself working on a tedious task with many twists and turns? If you're stuck doing something that's extremely complex, you can call it a labyrinth.
Additionally, any maze or place with "intricate passageways" can be described by this word.
Sometimes, almost every word fails. When that happens, you can turn to the word "ineffable," which means "unspeakable" or "indescribable."
For example, if your feelings about someone are almost impossible to pin down accurately, you can say they're ineffable.
Meaning extremely hot or inflammatory, anything that causes a fire is incendiary.
However, when used in contexts that aren't related to fire, this word can also describe someone who likes to start quarrels.
Things that don't last forever are ephemeral. From conversations to arguments, some things just tend to be short-lived, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Similar to the word proximity, the word propinquity is another way to talk about someone who lives near you. Aside from your next-door neighbors and roommates, it can also refer to "nearness of relation," in terms of kinship.
If you have a really strong desire to be near or know more about someone, you may have an infatuation. You can also use the term to describe your non-human obsession of the moment, whether it's a TV show or your new puppy.
While the word incandescent is one way to talk about the electric lamps in your living room, it can also be used in reference to the brightness or someone's intellect or personality.
Originating from the Greek word "eudaimon," eudaemonia is the state of being lucky or happy. If you're in a state of general well-being or feeling great joy, this is one way to express it.
Are you good at telling a story? Then you can start telling your friends that you're a raconteur. Even if you're not the best storyteller, it's still a fun word to say.
Perhaps you tell too many stories, always babbling on about something. In this case, you may be described as loquacious. But it's not always a bad thing; this word can also describe a person who expresses themselves articulately.
This word is considered so beautiful, in fact, that 17th-century poets "stretched its meaning to include such things as the chattering of birds and the babbling of brooks," explains Merriam-Webster.
The Greek words for "stone" and the "ethereal blood of the gods" combine to give us a perfectly beautiful term for the way the earth smells after it rains.
Scientists have spent decades trying to determine exactly why that smell is so pleasing; in fact, two are credited for coining petrichor in a 1964 Nature article.
Meaning "extremely costly, rich, luxurious, or magnificent," the word sumptuous can be used to describe anything from a five-star vacation to your favorite fluffy blanket.
An aesthete, according to Merriam-Webster, is "one having or affecting sensitivity to the beautiful especially in art."
You might be one if you're frequently moved by sculptures and paintings—or if you pretend to be for the sake of other people. Either way, the word is a joy to say.
An astronomical term that's been co-opted for colloquial usage, nadir means the lowest point, as in the "nadir of her popularity." Its opposite term, zenith, has a similar appeal.
Know someone with a loud, booming voice? You can refer to their speech as sonorous.
According to Merriam-Webster, sonorous can also be used in the context of a "waterfall that can be heard from a considerable distance."
Suffering from a lack of energy? Describe your tiredness—whether it's in your body, your mind, or both—as lassitude, and at least it will sound prettier.
One of several definitions of this word, per Dictionary.com, is "a fine, filmy cobweb seen on grass or bushes or floating in the air in calm weather, especially in autumn."
It's thought to have come from the Middle English term gosesummer, "possibly first used as name for late, mild autumn, a time when goose was a favorite dish."
But gossamer also be used to refer to anything thin and airy, from a summer shawl to the wings of a butterfly.
Bungalow is a cozy word for a specific type of house, usually one that's a single story and has a cottage-like feel. However, there may be additional criteria depending on where in the world you're using the term.
Not to be confused with those furry crepuscular rodents, scintilla means a spark or a trace of something. Perhaps you feel a scintilla of guilt after eating the last cookie or experience a scintilla of attraction to someone you just met.
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Originally the name of the Roman goddess of sunrise, the word aurora is now used to describe the dawn, as well as the stunning luminous phenomenon that takes place in the upper atmosphere of a planet's magnetic polar regions.
For example, you may have a trip to see the Aurora Borealis as an item on your bucket list.
Not all beautiful words have beautiful meanings. The word inure means to accept or grow accustomed to something undesirable. For example, your family's constant criticism could inure you to toxic behavior from loved ones.
This lyrical word refers to something that is sweet and enjoyable, especially when it comes to sound. You might find the chirping of birds in early spring to be quite mellifluous.
Derived from the Greek word for healthy, the word euphoria is now used to describe an intense feeling of happiness or elation. A sense of euphoria may be the result of a fortunate turn of events or an indescribable personal high.
You've probably experienced this phenomenon more than you realize.
Remember that time you went on a coffee run and stumbled upon the best chocolate cake your city has to offer? Or when you were cleaning your home and found those earrings you thought were gone years ago? Those happy coincidences are all cases of serendipity.
The word cherish means to hold dear or cultivate with care and affection. Whether that's your family, your home, or your most prized possession (or all three!), everyone has someone or something that they cherish.
One of our favorite beautiful words, demure is used to describe any modest and reserved behavior. Etymologists believe it may have been derived from the Anglo-French verb demorer or demourer, which means "to linger."
If you're well-versed in the world of Harry Potter, you probably associate this word with the elixir of life derived from the Sorcerer's Stone. In the 17th century, alchemists believed it was possible to create an elixir that would turn base metals to stone and allow people to live forever.
Today, the word is used to identify substances "capable of changing base metals into gold" or "capable of prolonging life indefinitely," according to Merriam-Webster.
Forever; always; a limitless time. These are just some ways to describe the endless and sometimes frightening idea of eternity.
This one's just another word for a state of happiness. For example, you might find yourself in a state of felicity the next time you're surrounded by people you love.
Another beautiful word with a not-so-beautiful definition, languor refers to lethargy or weakness in body and mind. You might experience this phenomenon when you've been working too many hours and are starting to hit burnout.
There's way more than one definition for this feeling, action, phenomenon (etc, etc). But we can all agree that the word love is as beautiful as everything it describes.
If you're an extrovert, solitude may not be ideal. But if you're an introvert, you'll probably enjoy and seek out solitude, or the act of being alone and away from society.
While there are several meanings of this word, most people associate an epiphany with a life-changing realization.
Have you ever met someone who embodies all of the characteristics of the city they're from or the career path they've chosen? Then you might have come across someone who is perfectly typical, otherwise known as quintessential.
Snacking on strawberries and cream while sipping a Pimm's Cup at Wimbledon? That's so quintessentially British!
This word has two definitions—one beautiful and one not so beautiful. While plethora is most commonly associated with having an abundance of something (close your eyes and picture a plethora of disposable income!), it's also a medical word that's used to describe increased blood in a specific area.
Are you familiar with the stone opal? This unique gem, which is also the October birthstone, can pick up all colors of the spectrum depending on the light.
And this is why opalescence is defined as "a lustrous play of colors like that of an opal," according to Dictionary.com.
If it's a diamond we're talking about, we may describe it as luminous. In this context, the word means "radiating or reflecting light; shining; bright," explains Dictionary.com.
But luminous can also mean well-lit, as in a luminous ballroom. And finally, you could describe something that's intellectually brilliant as luminous.
One syllable and full of grace, the word lithe is used to characterize flexibility and a slim figure. For example, you may have noticed the lithe ballerinas when you attended a performance of Swan Lake.
Hopefully, you'll achieve a state of tranquility on your next beach vacation. This is just another word for being free from agitation of mind or spirit.
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Another word that sounds exactly the way it's defined, elegance is a quality of style and grace.
Whether you're referring to your own personal revival in life or the transitional period between the 14th and 17th centuries, the word renaissance will roll off the tongue and fulfill all of your aesthetically pleasing linguistic needs.
This word refers to persuasive expressiveness. Look out for eloquence the next time you're listening to a political debate.
These larger-than-life trees can be found throughout California, particularly in their namesake national park in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Having a hard time differentiating between a sequoia and a redwood?
Here's an easy way to differentiate: If you're on the coast, then you're probably looking up at a redwood; if you're inland, then you've definitely found yourself in the presence of a sequoia.
There isn't a better word to describe a soothing melody to get your child to sleep. But this word isn't reserved for babies—it can also be used as a verb meaning "to quiet with."
The beginning of the end. Youth is wasted on the young. These are both examples of a paradox or a statement that seemingly contradicts itself.
This beautiful word seems to sparkle—and that's fitting, since pristine means "fresh and clean or as if new."
Here's a clever new way to describe the bubbly can-do person around your office. Instead of merely calling them fun to be around, you could take things up a notch and say they have an effervescent personality. That simply means they have an appealingly lively quality.
Do you dream of owning a mansion in Beverly Hills with a Maserati in the driveway and regular shopping trips on Rodeo Drive? Then you might be pining for a life of opulence. Keep on grinding!
This light and airy word might remind you of celestial bodies. Ethereal can refer to the upper regions of space as well as anything that is heavenly and unworldly seeming.
A complicated and beautiful word, sanguine comes with several meanings. It's typically used as a synonym for optimism, but it can also describe a blood-red hue or something relating to blood.
Panacea means all-healing in Greek and, fittingly, Panacea was the Greek goddess of healing.
Today, the word is used to refer to something that could fix everything. Imagine a remedy for all of the problems you face on a daily basis—that would be a panacea.
While this word is often used as an adjective for a body's curves, bodacious can also describe something that is remarkable or admirable. For example, a person might have a bodacious energy or a home might have bodacious decor.
An axiom is a statement that is widely accepted as true. For example, it's often used to describe mathematical proofs.
Depending on the situation, seeing a silhouette—or the outline of a figure—may be beautiful or spooky.
For example, seeing the silhouette of a young couple on a park bench is lovely, but if you see a shadowy silhouette in a house you thought was empty, then you might want to run away.
This word means to act clandestinely or to do or acquire something by stealth. For example, that person at your job who always seems to be working on a secret project might be considered surreptitious.
You'll find examples of this word in classic literature, film, and television. Naive and innocent female characters such as Sandy at the start of Grease and Ophelia from Hamlet are examples of ingenues.
This dainty word is another one that seems to describe exactly what it sounds like—which is anything that is generally pleasing.
You may have recently listened to particularly dulcet music or indulged in a dulcet chocolate cake.
This crisp word is usually used to describe a somewhat discreet meeting between two lovers.
While technically defined as any sort of meeting or appointment (not necessarily with romantic motivations), you probably don't want to refer to the next meeting at your office as a tryst.
A beautiful word that's probably best used to describe a litter of golden retriever puppies, ebullience is the quality of excitement and enthusiasm.