The Prettiest and Ugliest Words of the English Language

Elizabeth Camden Writing Life 2 Comments

Henry James once said the two most beautiful words in the English language are “summer afternoon.”  J.R.R. Tolkein was fond of “cellar door” as an especially evocative combination.  Writers enjoy toying with words they find especially interesting, suggestive, or grating.  Here are a handful of words that writers have often cited as being particularly lovely: 

Gossamer; Wisteria; Wind Chimes; Halcyon; Tranquility; Nevermore; Chalice; Evanescent; Talisman; Ethereal; Oleander

On the flip side, let’s take a look at words cited as the ugliest in the English language.  Thanks to writer William R. Espy for generating these candidates! 

Ugliest Words: Fructify; Kumquat; Crepuscular; Gargoyle; Jukebox; Plutocrat; Phlegmatic; Blog; Ointment; Splurge; Nougat

 If you can think of other particularly ugly or pretty words, let me know!

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