A Wonderful Word: phonaesthetics

Today I am doing my first post on a wonderful word . And that word is phonaesthetics.

Phonaesthetics is the study of the pleasantness or unpleasantness of the sound of words, phrases or sentences.

When I was a child I  had two words which I would often say aloud. I loved the sound of them. They are hyena and Ethiopia.  I think it was the vowel sounds  that I found pleasant to say. I thought it was just a childish habit but I was experiencing the joy of phonaesthetics.

Now I have some new favourite words. I like silhouette, luxurious, effervescent, oceanic. My husband thought sebaceous cyst had a pleasant sound. (Remember semantics is ignored.)

It has been decided by some experts that the most beautiful sounding word in the English language is the compound word cellar door.  Forget the semantics, the picture in your head or anything else and you find that it does have a pleasant sound. Slur the first r and say Seladore. Doesn’t it sound like a kingdom in a fantasy novel or a hero’s name? Actually, J. R. R. Tolkein was one of the first to recognize the beauty of the word.

It is not my favourite but  I will admit its beauty, phonaesthetically. I also like leather.  Even the way your tongue touches your teeth and the roof of your mouth, as you say it, feels pleasant.

Do you have a word that you think sounds beautiful? Remember, ignore its meaning.

Share it with us in a comment.


10 thoughts on “A Wonderful Word: phonaesthetics

  1. The longest word in the dictionary pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

    Sounds complicated to say but I love hearing and saying it 🙂 I love how people are amaze when you can actually say it lol

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been following your blog for quite sometime. Wonderful Wordsday is an interesting concept.
    As a child I loved the word ‘pandemonium’. I guess it was used too many times by tired adults at home and in school 🙂


  3. Interesting idea for a bloghop! If I can think of a good word for it, I’ll have a post up on the 23rd 🙂
    I’m not sure what would be the most pleasing word for me to say. Cellar door does have an cool mouthfeel to it, but most beautiful sounding? Don’t know about that haha


  4. For several reasons, I love the word “quinoa.”
    To produce “keen” requires such a definite “smily” movement of the mouth and I’ve always enjoyed the distinctiveness of the “wah” sound. Also, the combination of both sounds in “quinoa” produces what is, for me, an exotic-sounding word!


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