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Sunday, February 1, 2009

100 Most Beautiful Words

Rouge Waver Steve Axelrod sent me this me the other day and since it's a nice, mellow SuperBowl Sunday I thought I'd share. Please note: I didn't bother to correct any lack of punctuation or inconsistent capitalization. What are you - some cranky-ass reader? What - are you gonna PASS on this list? Don't cause an imbroglio or be jejune.

It would warm my cockles and be quite scintillating if Wavers - especially those with Facebook - would adroitly conflate some of these words into conversation this week. It's no panacea but it would be most felicitous. Oh, halcyon days, here we come...

The 100 Most Beautiful words in the English Language

1 adroit Dexterous, agile.
2 adumbrate To very gently suggest.
3 aestivate To summer, to spend the summer.
4 ailurophile A cat-lover.
5 beatific Befitting an angel or saint.
6 beleaguer To exhaust with attacks.
7 blandiloquent Beautiful and flattering.
8 caliginous Dark and misty.
9 champagne An effervescent wine.
10 chatoyant Like a cat’s eye.
11 chiaroscuro The arrangement of dark and light elements in a picture.
12 cockle A heart-shaped bivalve or a garden flower.
13 colporteur A book peddlar.
14 conflate To blend together, to combine different things.
15 cynosure A focal point of admiration.
16 desuetude Disuse.
17 diaphanous Filmy.
18 diffuse Spread out, not focused or concentrated.
19 dulcet Sweet, sugary.
20 ebullient Bubbling with enthusiasm.
21 effervescent Bubbly.
22 efflorescence Flowering, the opening of buds or a bloom.
23 elixir A good potion.
24 emollient A softener.
25 encomium A spoken or written work in praise of someone.
26 ephemeral Short-lived.
27 epicure A person who enjoys fine living, especially food and drink.
28 epiphany A sudden revelation.
29 erstwhile At one time, for a time.
30 eschew To reject or avoid.
31 esculent Edible.
32 esoteric Understood only by a small group of specialists.
33 ethereal Gaseous, invisible but detectable.
34 etiolate White from no contact with light.
35 evanescent Vanishing quickly, lasting a very short time.
36 exuberant Enthusiastic, excited.
37 felicitous Pleasing.
38 fescue A variety of grass favored for pastures.
39 foudroyant Dazzling.
40 fragile Very, very delicate.
41 fugacioius Running, escaping.
42 gambol To skip or leap about joyfully.
43 glamour Beauty.
44 gossamer The finest piece of thread, a spider’s silk.
45 halcyon Happy, sunny, care-free.
46 hymeneal Having to do with a wedding.
47 imbricate To overlap to form a regular pattern.
48 imbroglio An altercation or complicated situation.
49 imbue To infuse, instill.
50 incipient Beginning, in an early stage.
51 ingenue A naïve young woman.
52 inglenook The place beside the fireplace.
53 inspissate To thicken.
54 inure To jade.
55 jejune Dull; childish.
56 lagniappe A gift given to a customer for their patronage.
57 lagoon A small gulf or inlet in the sea.
58 languor Listlessness, inactivity.
59 lassitude Weariness, listlessness.
60 laughter The response to something funny.
61 lilt To move musically or lively, to have a lively sound.
62 lithe Slender and flexible.
63 loquacious Talkative.
64 luxuriant Thick, lavish.
65 mellifluous Sweet-sounding.
66 missive A message or letter.
67 moiety One of two equal parts, a half.
68 mondegreen A misanalyzed phrase.
69 nebulous Foggy.
70 niveous Snowy, snow-like.
71 obsequious Fawning, subservience.
72 odalisque A concubine in a harem.
73 oeuvre A work.
74 offing That part of the sea between the horizon and the offshore.
75 onomatopoeia The creation of words by imitating sound.
76 paean A formal expression of praise.
77 palimpsest A manuscript written over one or more earlier ones.
78 panacea A complete solution for all problems.
79 panoply A complete set.
80 pastiche A mixture of art work (art or music) from various sources.
81 peccadillo A peculiarity.
82 pelagic Related to the sea or ocean.
83 penumbra A half-shadow, the edge of a shadow.
84 peregrination Wandering, travels.
85 petrichor The smell of earth after a rain.
86 plethora A great excess, overabundance.
87 porcelain A fine white clay pottery.
88 potamophilous Loving rivers.
89 propinquity An inclination or preference.
90 Pyrrhic Victorious despite heavy losses.
91 quintessential The ultimate, the essence of the essence.
92 redolent Sweet-smelling.
93 rhapsody A beautiful musical piece.
94 riparian Having to do with the bank of a river or other body of water.
95 ripple A small, circular wave emanating from a central point.
96 scintillate To sparkle with brilliant light.
97 sempiternal Forever and ever.
98 seraglio Housing for a harem.
99 serendipity Finding something while looking for something else.
100 surreptitious Sneaky.

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Mike Scherer said...

I would like to place my two-cents worth:

cacophony - din, racket, noise, discord, dissonance, discordance.

quagmire - swamp, morass, bog, marsh, mire, slough.

Keep Writing!

Anonymous said...

I love lists like this and will post it at work. It's great because people peruse it and then the words float around for days!

If I may add the word I try to work into conversation anytime I get a chance...
kerfuffle - a commotion or fuss, esp. one caused by conflicting view


Désirée said...

There were few of those words that I acutally knew...

Maybe not that strange. I don't have English as my native language, and English is rich of words.

It's the language that is hardest to spell as well. For native speaking people. It's not Chineese as most people think, it is ENGLISH. Becuase the letters do not match the needs of speech sounds.

Back to the list, I love to learn words so don't take me wrong, but tell me, when I write a script should I use these words or more common words? Do I impress or annoy?

Anonymous said...

Mike, I just LOVE the word 'cacophony' - there's no better word to describe, say, bad music. :-)

Désirée, since scripts are just "blueprints" for movies, they should be simple and use simple language (contrary to books, for example). No need to impress with witty words - impress with a witty story. Imagine, if an architect wanted to impress the constructors with his blueprints? And he'd draw all sorts of cute lines, numbers, etc. The constructors will get irritated rather sooner than later. All they want is a plain blueprint, that's it. Same with the movies - just give 'em the story and they'll be happy. No archaic or academic words, unless they're used by some characters and are appropriate in the story.


Yoda said...

My absolute favorite word --

verisimilitude - appearance of truth; likelihood.

Désirée said...

You just aided me in my quest to find a new Saturday-theme for my blog.

Thank you Julie and Steve Axelrod.

Please visit my blog next Saturday (and the next 99 to come)

martinb said...


2 adumbrate To very gently suggest.
This definition needs disambiguation (thank you, Wikipedia, for rescuing this useful word from desuetude): "suggest" here means to indicate, not to propose.
-adumbrate Represent in outline, faintly indicate; typify, foreshadow. [CO]
e.g. He adumbrated that I might become Managing Director some day.
NOT He adumbrated that I should go jump in a lake.

41 fugacioius Running, escaping. (misspelled)
-fugacious Fleeting, evanescent, hard to capture or keep. [CO]
e.g. She swept out of the room, leaving behind a fugacious hint of Chanel.

68 mondegreen A misanalyzed phrase.
-mondegreen A misheard phrase, typically in a song.
e.g. "They laid him on the green" misheard as "The Lady Mondegreen."

73 oeuvre A work.
-oeuvre (Totality of) works of an author, painter, composer etc.[CO]
e.g. Van Gogh's oeuvre encompasses the dark depression of The Potato Eaters and the manic brightness of Sunflowers.

82 pelagic Related to the sea or ocean.
-marine Related to the sea or ocean. [CO]
-pelagic Belonging to the upper layers of the open sea. [CO]
e.g. Tunny and grouper are both marine fish; but tunny is a pelagic fish while grouper is a reef fish.

89 propinquity An inclination or preference.
-propensity An inclination or tendency. [CO]
-propinquity Nearness in place; close kinship; similarity. [CO]
e.g. Their propensity to talk about themselves, plus their propinquity together in a small office, meant they soon knew everything about each other.

95 ripple A small, circular wave emanating from a central point.
-ripple Ruffling of water's surface, small wave. [CO]
e.g. Blow across a pond and you will get ripples; drop a stone in a pond and you will get concentric ripples emanating from where the stone hit the water.

I would rate four of these as nitpicking; and three as egregious errors.

[CO] Definition from The Concise Oxford Dictionary 6th Ed 1976