or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Eye of the Beholder

Pajiba is a website devoted mostly to film reviews and other pop-cultural criticism, but they also like to throw us other tidbits every now and then, such as this hodgepodge, which contains among other things a link to a list of someone's idea of the 100 most beautiful words in English.

It seems very random. "Assemblage"? "Brood" (the verb, not the noun)? "Incipient"? There's something I'm not getting, obviously.

Lexicographer Wilfred Funk (of Funk & Wagnalls) once produced a list of most-beautiful which was on the whole a little closer to the mark, including such undeniable beauties as "halcyon" and "anemone", although I think he was swayed a little more by the words' meanings that I would have been: I would prefer to consider also their flow and euphony. Not that he didn't: he also included such enchanting words as "cerulean" and "mignonette", but then he mucked up the list by including "tranquil" and "bobolink", which, whatever associations they may conjure up in your mind, have no music in them at all.

Word collector Willard R. Espy had the cheek to include in his own ten-best list, along with Funk's "gossamer" and "lullaby", "gonorrhea", which may be going a little too far in the other direction.

As for mine, well, I have grazed against this subject before (six and a half years ago!), and my opinion hasn't changed: if you ignore the meaning altogether, I cannot think of anything lovelier than "irremediably", a limpid, meandering brook of a word.


Blogger Pinellas Thrifter said...

I've always been rather fond of "eviscerate". As words go, it sounds like a butterfly but stings like a bee!

Thursday, January 26, 2012 7:02:00 PM  

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