Eye of the Beholder: The 100 Most Beautiful English Words

By Mark Skoultchi

June 22, 2009

I am a naming specialist, a linguist, and a lover of words in every sense. So I was tickled pink to see this recent collection of the 100 most beautiful words in English posted by AlphaDictionary.

Now of course, each of us will have our own opinion of what makes a word “beautiful” (Mr. Beard’s methodology is a bit mysterious), but I was encouraged to note that several of my personal favorites made the cut. For me, beauty in language is a combination of phonetics and semantics. I like words that sound nice AND have interesting, evocative, and/or inspirational meaning.

My personal favorite? Serendipity. I love the melodious wandering flow to this word – it’s borderline onomatopoeic – and the definition (“the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way”) speaks to both adventure and the benefits of taking the adventure. Pure magic.

In fact, as I look more closely at this list, quite a few of these words carry that same onomatopoeic feeling. Murmur, Dalliance, Fluke, Elixir, Nemesis … these words have more than a definition. They have emotion. Even if one doesn’t know the actual meaning, one can infer the intent of the word. Love that.

And I guess that’s why I’m in the naming business. The best brand names do more than just define the company or product they reference. They represent. They intrigue. They inspire. Catchword’s portfolio is rife with examples of such brand names: Dash, Zippity, Vudu, Maestro, et al. We take great pride in our ability to deliver such names to our clients. (And we’re proud to say that one client of ours will soon launch with a name on the list of the 100 most beautiful words. Can’t say which client or which word yet, but stay tuned.)

When trying to come up with a new name (whether you’re working with a professional naming consultant or just brainstorming on your own), don’t settle for ordinary. Your brand name is your first foot forward into the psyche of the consumer. Take the time to get it right. Take the time to find something that does what a brand name should do: represent, intrigue, inspire.

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