The 100 Most Beautiful Words in English

The 100 Most Beautiful Words in English

Robert Beard

Language: English

Pages: 136

ISBN: 0984172300

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This book explores what is beautiful in English words by looking closely at the 100 loveliest of them selected by Dr. Robert Beard, formerly Dr. Language at and currently Dr. Goodword at The book begins with an essay on what makes words beautiful and a background essay on the relationships between European and Indian languages. This is followed by essays that examine the pronunciation, meaning, usage, and history of words like cynosure, desultory, ephemeral, gambol, petrichor, serendipity, and Susquehanna. Each word is accompanied by creative examples featuring Beard's regular cast of characters, including Natalie Cladd, Maude Lynn Dresser, Gilda Lilly and the twins, Rita and Rhoda Book.

Word Origins

International Express: Student's Book, Upper-intermediate level

Parting Shots

God's Own Country

The Green Knight




















participle has picked up a genuinely beautiful meaning (“pretty” itself) while the suffix –ing adds a little tinkle to its sound. You may use it as an adverb so long as you remember the adverb suffix, fetchingly This word is usually applied to people and things they wear: “Natalie Cladd arrived at church in a fetching outfit composed of a white skirt with a flourish of blossoms to the side and a peach sweater.” Fetching also applies comfortably to pretty much anything artistic that we do:

Paene can also be found in penultimate “next to last” as in the penultimate syllable of a word, and penultimatum, the ultimatum in which you threaten an ultimatum. Petrichor Noun, mass Pronunciation: pe-truh-kor That distinctively pleasant fragrance of rain falling on dry ground. It is produced by oily, yellow-gold globules, rather like perfume, that either come from certain plants or the air itself. This amazingly beautiful word was introduced by two Australian geologists, I. J. Bear and

to combine into one. This beautiful word is the only one we know that precisely expresses the concept of reducing and combining several things to one. Neither collapse or combine are this specific, which means that this word is an important word in any vocabulary. The noun is conflation. No adjective seems to have survived, though conflatable “capable of being conflated,” is certainly a potentiality. Conflation is not simply the mixing of two things together (as dictionaries often claim), but

dalliances leave him little time for work.” This beautifully fluid word is the noun from the verb dally, which means to lag behind, move slowly without focus. It originally meant “to chat idly,” a meaning that came with it when it was borrowed from Old French dalier. Old French borrowed this word from a Germanic language, perhaps Dutch, where taal means “language, speech.” English added a suffix –k to this stem, making it talk but, since the K doesn’t show up in the French, Dutch or Low German

leaping from one to the other. This word was derived from desultus, the past participle of desilire “to leap from” based on de- “from” + salire “jump.” The root of this word, salire is indirectly responsible for salacious “lustful, wanton,” taken from Latin salax “fond of leaping.” (I’ll let you connect the semantic dots.) Something that is salient leaps out at you and when you sally forth, you leap out yourself. Salire is responsible for both these words, too. We are not sure of this, but salmon

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