What makes a word beautiful?
Is it the sound of the word or its meaning?
The study of the pleasantness or unpleasantness of the way words and phrases sound (regardless of their meaning) is called phonaesthetics.
But I think the combination of sound and meaning is what makes for pretty words.
Consider the word “diarrhea” which trills off the tongue but isn’t a pleasant topic to ponder.
But the word “diary” is equally pleasing to the ear and has an intriguing meaning.
What Are the Most Beautiful Words?
The most beautiful words in English are those that thrill the ear and that stir the mind or soul.
They are words that inspire, uplift, excite, comfort, challenge, move and entice us. But they can also have a neutral or even unpleasant meaning (hemorrhage, flatulence, etc.).
British linguist, David Crystal, created a series of attributes of words that are commonly considered beautiful. Those attributes include:
- Having three or more syllables.
- Emphasis on the first syllable.
- The presence of particular letters people enjoy saying (like I and M).
Ultimately, the most beautiful words are the words that you find beautiful.
What is the Prettiest Word in the World?
There are more than 7000 languages in the world, with hundreds of thousands of words in most of them. So it’s difficult (if not impossible) to narrow the list to one word alone.
You might start by exploring the most beautiful languages in the world which are often considered Italian, French, Arabic, and Turkish. But still, what each person finds beautiful is subjective.
Maybe we should just be happy there are so many lovely words in all languages.