100 Beautiful and Ugly Words

By Mark Nichol

One of the many fascinating features of our language is how often words with pleasant associations are also quite pleasing on the tongue and even to the eye, and how many words, by contrast, acoustically and visually corroborate their disagreeable nature — look no further than the heading for this post.

Enrich the poetry of your prose by applying words that provide precise connotation while also evoking emotional responses. (Note the proportion of beautiful words to ugly ones in the compilation below; it’s easier to conjure the former than the latter, though I omitted words associated with bodily functions, as well as onomatopoeic terms.)

Notice how often attractive words present themselves to define other beautiful ones, and note also how many of them are interrelated, and what kind of sensations, impressions, and emotions they have in common. Also, try enunciating beautiful words as if they were ugly, or vice versa. Are their sounds suggestive of their quality, or does their meaning wholly determine their effect on us?

Beautiful Words

Amorphous: indefinite, shapeless
Beguile: deceive
Caprice: impulse
Cascade: steep waterfall
Cashmere: fine, delicate wool
Chrysalis: protective covering
Cinnamon: an aromatic spice; its soft brown color
Coalesce: unite, or fuse
Crepuscular: dim, or twilit
Crystalline: clear, or sparkling
Desultory: half-hearted, meandering
Diaphanous: gauzy
Dulcet: sweet
Ebullient: enthusiastic
Effervescent: bubbly
Elision: omission
Enchanted: charmed
Encompass: surround
Enrapture: delighted
Ephemeral: fleeting
Epiphany: revelation
Epitome: embodiment of the ideal
Ethereal: celestial, unworldly, immaterial
Etiquette: proper conduct
Evanescent: fleeting
Evocative: suggestive
Exuberant: abundant, unrestrained, outsize
Felicity: happiness, pleasantness
Filament: thread, strand
Halcyon: care-free
Idyllic: contentedly pleasing
Incorporeal: without form
Incandescent: glowing, radiant, brilliant, zealous
Ineffable: indescribable, unspeakable
Inexorable: relentless
Insouciance: nonchalance
Iridescent: luster
Languid: slow, listless
Lassitude: fatigue
Lilt: cheerful or buoyant song or movement
Lithe: flexible, graceful
Lullaby: soothing song
Luminescence: dim chemical or organic light
Mellifluous: smooth, sweet
Mist: cloudy moisture, or similar literal or virtual obstacle
Murmur: soothing sound
Myriad: great number
Nebulous: indistinct
Opulent: ostentatious
Penumbra: shade, shroud, fringe
Plethora: abundance
Quiescent: peaceful
Quintessential: most purely representative or typical
Radiant: glowing
Redolent: aromatic, evocative
Resonant: echoing, evocative
Resplendent: shining
Rhapsodic: intensely emotional
Sapphire: rich, deep bluish purple
Scintilla: trace
Serendipitous: chance
Serene: peaceful
Somnolent: drowsy, sleep inducing
Sonorous: loud, impressive, imposing
Spherical: ball-like, globular
Sublime: exalted, transcendent
Succulent: juicy, tasty, rich
Suffuse: flushed, full
Susurration: whispering
Symphony: harmonious assemblage
Talisman: charm, magical device
Tessellated: checkered in pattern
Tranquility: peacefulness
Vestige: trace
Zenith: highest point

Ugly Words

Cacophony: confused noise
Cataclysm: flood, catastrophe, upheaval
Chafe: irritate, abrade
Coarse: common, crude, rough, harsh
Cynical: distrustful, self-interested
Decrepit: worn-out, run-down
Disgust: aversion, distaste
Grimace: expression of disgust or pain
Grotesque: distorted, bizarre
Harangue: rant
Hirsute: hairy
Hoarse: harsh, grating
Leech: parasite,
Maladroit: clumsy
Mediocre: ordinary, of low quality
Obstreperous: noisy, unruly
Rancid: offensive, smelly
Repugnant: distasteful
Repulsive: disgusting
Shriek: sharp, screeching sound
Shrill: high-pitched sound
Shun: avoid, ostracize
Slaughter: butcher, carnage
Unctuous: smug, ingratiating
Visceral: crude, anatomically graphic

What did I miss? Add to these lists in a comment below.

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199 Responses to “100 Beautiful and Ugly Words”

  • Martin Narrod

    Oh gosh, what myriad plethora of words, I have so many that I just find to be so incredibly dulciloquent(a. sweetly language) as well as those words who exceed the syllabic qualities of three’s and fours such as those that might be sesquipedelian(a. given to using long words;lit. 7 syllable words), here are some of my absolute favorites:

    piceous – adj. brown, grayish; soot-colored
    cerise – adj. a cherry red
    floccinaucinihilipilification – noun. the action or habit of estimating something as worthless
    cynosure – noun. a person or thing which is the center of attention or the object of beauty
    cwm – Noun. Chiefly Scottish. a cirque
    succubus – noun. A female demon believed to have intercourse with sleeping men
    soporific – adj. sleep inducing
    throng – noun. a large gathering of people
    prurient – adj. having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters
    puerile – adj. childishly silly or immature
    acanthus – noun. An herbaceous plant or shrub with bold flower spikes and spiny decorative leaves
    nictitate – verb. blink
    arenose – adj. sandy
    noisome – adj. foul smelling
    redolent – adj. sweetly or pleasantly smelling
    sudor – noun. sweat, perspiration
    exsuphlocation – noun. an expiration of breath; to expel air forcefully from the lungs
    syzygy – noun. the alignment of all nine celestial bodies
    aeviternal – adj. everlasting, endless
    interstices – noun. an intervening space( i.e. the spaces between fingers)
    brumous – Noun. Of grey skies or winter days, filled with heavy clouds or fog; relating to winter or cold sunless weather
    stelliferous – Adjective. Having or abounding with stars
    lacuna – noun. An unfilled space; a gap
    kairos – Noun. The perfect, delicate, crucial moment: the fleeting rightness of time and place, that creates the opportune atmosphere for action, words, or movement; also, weather
    apricity – noun. The warmth of the sun in winter
    mistpouffer – Noun. A mysterious sound heard over the ocean, in quiet, foggy weather
    mellifluous – adj. sweet or musical, pleasant to the ears
    mångata – Noun. The reflection of the moon on the water
    hiraeth – noun. A homesickness for a home to which you cannot return; a home which maybe never was. The nostalgia, the yearning, the grief, for the lost places of your past
    supine – noun. (Of a person) lying face upwards
    decumbent – Adj. lying along the ground; 2. Taken to having to lay down
    noceur – Noun. One who stays up late
    baffian – Adj. outlandish
    morosis – Noun. The stupidest of stupidities.
    sillage – Noun. The scent that lingers in air, the trail left in water, the impression made in space after something or someone has come and gone- the trace of someone’s perfume; 2. Noun. The degree to which someone’s perfume lingers in the air
    brontide – Noun. The low rumble of distant thunder
    xyst – Noun. A garden walk planted with trees
    gerful – Adjective. Wild and wayward
    clinomania – Noun. Excessive desire to stay in bed
    euneirophrenia – Noun. The peace of mind that comes from having pleasant dreams
    bussing – noun. Kissing
    oscultating – noun. Kissing
    basorexia – Noun. The overwhelming desire to kiss
    baisement – Noun. Kissing; lit. A kiss on the hand
    selenophile – Noun. A person who loves the moon
    rhinotillexomania – Noun. The overwhelming desire to be loved
    lisztomania – Noun. The overwhelming desire to listen to music all of the time
    irusu – Noun. Pretending to be out when someone knocks at your door
    majime – Noun. An earnest, reliable person who can get things done without causing drama
    ikigai – Noun. A reason for being the thing that gets you up in the morning
    yugen – Noun. A profound awareness of the universe that triggers a deep, emotional response.
    flume – noun. An artificial channel to move water
    ukiyo – Noun. Literally, “the floating world”; living in the moment, detached from the bothers of life
    yoisho – Noun. A word without meaning, said when dropping into a chair after a long day at work
    shibui – Noun. Old school cool
    kuidaore – Noun. To eat yourself into bankruptcy
    hikikomori – Noun. When a young person obsessed with television, video games, and the internet withdraws from society
    wasuremono – Noun. Forgotten or lost things; left behind on a train or forgotten at home
    nito-onna – Noun. A woman dedicated so much to her career that she has no time to iron blouses, so dresses only in knitted tops
    bimyou – Noun. Not bad or “meh”
    komorebi – Noun. Sunlight filtering through trees
    tsundoko – Noun. The art of buying a book and leaving it unread, often stacked together with other books which are also unread.
    shinrin-yoku – Literally, “forest bathing”, a visit to the forest for relaxation and to improve one’s health
    age-otori – Noun. The bad feeling someone gets after receiving a bad haircut.
    ceraunophile -Noun. Person who loves lightning and thunder
    pluviophile – Noun. A lover of rain; one who takes pleasure and joy in experiencing rainy days
    querencia – Noun. A place where one’s strength is drawn, where one feels at home; the place where someone is their most authentic self
    abditory – Noun. A place into which you can disappear; a hiding place
    orphic – noun. Mysterious and entrancing, beyond ordinary understanding
    borborygmi – Noun. The rumbling sounds your stomach makes
    flumadiddle – Noun. Utter nonsense
    eunoia – Noun. Beautiful thinking, a well mind 2. The frame of mind one must be in to welcome new friendships
    eccedentesiast – Noun. A person who fakes a smile
    pisanthrobia – Noun. A fear of trusting people due to past experiences with relationships gone bad
    waldeinsamkeit – Noun. The feeling of being alone in the woods
    feuillemort – Noun. The color of a dying leaf
    sirimiri – Noun. A light rain, a fine drizzle
    dendrophile – Noun. A lover of trees
    alexithmyia – Noun. An inability to describe emotions in a verbal manner
    boketto – Verb. The act of gazing vacantly into the distance without thinking
    beamish – Adjective. bright, cheerful, and optimistic
    nefelibata – Noun. Literally, “cloud walker”, one who lives in the clouds of their own imagination or dreams, or one who does not obey the convictions of society, literature, or art
    Thalassophile – Noun. A lover of the sea, someone who loves the ocean or sea
    philophobia – Noun. The fear of being in or falling in love
    petrichor – Noun. The smell outside after it rains
    trollop – noun. A sexually promiscuous woman
    drapetomania – Noun. An overwhelming urge to run away
    gigil – Noun. The overwhelming urge to squeeze someone because you love them.
    imbroglio – Noun. A confined, embarrassing situation
    torpid – Adjective. Dormant, lazy
    jargoon – noun. a smoky gem variety of zircon
    blatherskite – Noun. A person who talks at great length without making any sense
    kalon – Adjective. Beauty that is more than skin deep
    psithurism – Noun. The sound of the wind through trees
    apodyopsis – Noun. The act of mentally undressing someone
    tartle – Verb. To hesitate while introducing someone as you have forgotten their name.
    proliferate – verb. increase rapidly in number
    absquatulate – Verb. To leave without saying goodbye
    nexility – adj. fastness or compactness of speech
    numinous – Adjective. Being both fearful and awed by what is before you
    trouvaille – Noun. A chance encounter with something wonderful
    sonder – Verb. The realization that everyone is living their own vivid life
    flaneur – noun. An urban rambler
    solivagant – Verb. Wandering alone
    Hodophile – Noun. A lover of roads, one who loves to travel
    strikhedonia – Noun. The ability to be able to say, “To hell with it.”
    sophrosyne – Noun. A healthy state of mind, characterized by self-control, moderation, and a deep awareness of one’s true self, and resulting in true happiness
    eudaimonia – Noun. Literally, “human flourishing”; a contented state of being happy, and healthy, and prosperous
    hypnagogic – adjective. the state immediately before falling asleep
    dysania – Noun. The state of finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning
    schwellenangst – Noun. Fear of crossing a threshold to embark on something new
    yūgen – Noun. An awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses to deep and mysterious for words
    acatalepsy – Noun. The idea that it is impossible to truly comprehend everything
    novaturient – Noun. The desire to alter your life, the feeling that pushes you to travel
    nemophilist – Noun. A haunted or the woods; one who loves the forest for its beauty and solitude
    toska – Noun. A state of great anguish, melancholy, longing beyond bearable bounds
    icterine – Noun. A color described as yellowish, jaundiced, or yellowish-brown
    kalopsia – Noun. The illusion of things being more beautiful than they truly are
    selcouth – Adjective. Unfamiliar, strange, rare, and yet marvelous
    pulchritudinous – adjective. breathtaking, heartbreaking beauty
    duende – Noun. The mysterious power of art to deeply move someone
    eudaemonia – Noun. The contented state of happiness and glee when we travel
    forelsket – Noun. The euphoria felt when you are first falling in love
    cheiloproclitic – Adjective. Having an erotic and passionate desire towards someone’s lips
    ubuntu – Noun. The belief that we are defined by our compassion and kindness towards others
    abbiocco – Noun. The drowsiness experienced after eating a big meal
    curglaff – Noun. The shock felt when entering cold water
    vellichor – Noun. The strange wastefulness of used bookstores
    nellypot – noun. one who walks barefoot
    coddiwopple – Verb. To travel purposefully to a vague destination
    consenescere – Verb. To grow old and grey together; to stay too long in an occupation, to decay, to lose respect, to fade
    redamancy – Noun. The act of loving the one who loves you; a love returned in full.
    desiderium – Noun. An ardent longing, as for something lost
    uitwaaien – Verb. To take a break to clear one’s head. Literally, “To take a walk in the wind.”
    anoesis – Noun. A state of mind consisting of pure sensation of emotion without cognitive content.
    erythropoiesis – Noun. The process of the production of red blood cells
    cyanosis – Adjective. The blueness of the skin as caused by imperfectly oxygenated blood
    leucoderma – Noun. An unusual whiteness in the skin; a pigment deficiency
    amaranthine – Adjective. Undying, immortally beautiful
    kedegenous – Adjective. Causing stress
    thantophobia – Noun. The fear of losing someone you love
    limerence – Noun. The state of being infatuated with another person
    ephorize – Verb. To have an absolute controlling influence over
    kapel – Noun. Sunny days when water stars dripping from icicles
    adoxography – Noun. Beautiful writing on a subject of little or no importance.
    surbed – Verb. To set a stone edgewise or any different position, which it had while it lay in the quarry.
    grike – Noun. (Chiefly British) . A deep cleft formed in limestone surfaces do to water erosion; providing a unique habitat for plants.
    bedrape – verb. Archaic. To dress or clothe
    pederast – noun. a man who engages in pederasty
    vitrification – verb. Make into glass
    collimate – verb. make rays of light or particles parallel
    pallid – adj. pale or tawny
    knosp – noun. a bud-like ornament
    quinine – noun. A bitter crystalline compound present in cinchona bark
    howk – verb. (with object) dig out or up
    desultory – adj. lacking a plan or purpose
    chypre – n. The name of a family (or concept) of perfumes that are characterized by an accord composed of citrus top-notes, a middle centered on cistus labdanum, and a mossy animalistic base-note composed of oak moss and musk 2. Noun. a non-alcoholic perfume containing oils and resins
    cistus – Noun. Biology. Cistus is a genus of flowering plants in the rock rose family Cistaceae, containing about 20 species.
    mirth – adj. happiness, glee, pleasantness
    trammel – verb. restrictions or impediments to freedoms or actions
    labdanum – noun. Biology. Also laudanum. A brown sticky resin made from the twigs and sticks of this plant used as both an essential oil in various fragrances, but also as a homeopathic remedy for rheumatism, menstrual cramps, and common colds.
    tarn – noun. A small mountain lake
    muskeg – noun. A North American swamp or bog consisting mostly of water and partly dead vegetation
    nemophilist – noun. One who is fond of forests or forest scenery; a haunter of the woods
    hain – verb. To save, leave off, or forbear
    goshawk – noun. A large short-winged hawk resembling a large sparrow-hawk
    bothy – noun. (In Scotland) a small hut or village
    nemorous – adjective. Forested, full of trees; dark with shady groves
    interfluve – noun. Geology. A region between the valleys of adjacent watercourses, especially in a dissected upland
    campestral – adjective. Relating to open fields or uncultivated land
    usurp – verb. Take a position of power
    indomite – adjective. Not tamed; untamed; feral, wild
    cismontane – adjective. On this side of the mountains, esp. The Alps
    castrensial – adjective. Belonging to a camp
    ecesis – noun. The establishment of an immigrant plant in a new environment
    bathylkopian – noun. The deepest level of the ocean’s layers
    silvicolous – adjective. Growing in woodlands
    transmontane – Noun. A cold north wind blowing in Italy or the adjoining regions of the Adriatic and the Mediterranean.
    montanic – adjective. Of or containing of mountains
    ferity – adjective. The state or quality of being savage
    paludinal – adjective. Inhabiting ponds or swamps
    podzol – noun. An infertile acidic soil having an ash-like subsurface layer
    amnicolost – noun. One who lives near a river
    xerosere – noun. A sere occurring on dry soil
    sere – adjective. Especially of vegetation dry or withered
    vastity – noun. Obsolete. Emptiness or vastness
    verderer – noun. A judicial officer of a royal forest
    arenicolite – noun. Paleontology. An ancient wormhole in sand preserved in the rock.
    cascalho – noun. A deposit of pebbles, gravel, or ferruginous sand
    sabulous -adjective. Sandy or gritty.
    petrean – adjective. Composed of rock or stone; stony
    psammite – noun. A general term for sandstone
    chessil – noun. Gravel or pebbles
    corrasion – noun. Wear caused by wind-blown or water borne sand
    scopulous – adjective. Full of rocks; rocky
    saxicavous – adjective. Boring in rock- used especially of a mollusk or mussel
    strockle – noun. A shovel with a turned up edge used by glass workers
    curaris – noun. A blackish, resinlike substance derived from tropical plants of the genus Strychnos, especially S. toxifera, and from the root of pareira, used by certain South American indigenous people for poisoning arrows and employed in physiological experiments, medicine, etc., for arresting the action of motor nerves
    ciliate – Noun. Zoology. Any species of the phylum Ciliaphora( or in some classification schemes, class Ciliata), as those of the genera Paramecium, Tetrahymena, Stentor, and Vorticella. Having cilia on part or all of the surface.
    milreis – noun. A silver coin and former monetary unit of Brazil, equal to 1000 reis, discontinued in 1942
    calotype – noun. an early photographic process

    Here are some other words I absolutely am enampred with:

    catafalque – noun. a decorated wooden framework supporting the coffin of a distinguished person during a funeral or while lying in state.

    cortege – noun. a solemn procession esp. for a funeral

    pall – noun. a cloth spread over a coffin, hearse, or tomb; figurative. a dark cloud or covering of smoke, dust, or similar matter; figurative. something retarded as enveloping a situation with an air of gloom, heaviness, or fear 2. an ecclesiastical pallium; heraldry. a Y-shape charge representing the front of an ecclesiastical pallium. ORIGIN: Old English pell [rich (purple) cloth, ] [cloth cover for a chalice,] from Latin pallium ‘covering, cloak.’

    3. verb. [intrans.] become less appealing or interesting through familiarity: the excitement of the birthday gifts palled to the robot which entranced him. ORIGIN: late Middle English; shortening of APPALL

    columbarium – noun. (pl. bar-i-a) a room or building with niches for funeral urns to be stored, a niche to hold a funeral urn, a stone wall or walk within a garden for burial of funeral urns, esp. attached to a church. ORIGIN: mid 18th cent.: from Latin, literally ‘pigeon house.’

    balefire – noun. a lare open-air fire; a bonfire.

    eloge – noun. a panegyrical funeral oration.

    panegyrical – noun. a public speech or published text in praise of someone or something

    aphorism – noun. a pithy observation that contains a general truth, such as, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”; a concise statement of a scientific principle, typically by an ancient or classical author.

    elogium – noun. a short saying, an inscription. The praise bestowed on a person or thing; a eulogy

    epicede – noun. dirge elegy; sorrow or care. A funeral song or discourse, an elegy.

    exequy – noun. plural ex-e-quies. usually, exequies. Funeral rites or ceremonies; obsequies. 2. a funeral procession.

    loge – noun. (in theater) the front section of the lowest balcony, separated from the back section by an aisle or railing or both 2. a box in a theater or opera house 3. any small enclosure; booth. 4. (in France) a cubicle for the confinement of art students during important examinations

    obit – noun. informal. an obituary 2. the date of a person’s death 3. Obsolete. a Requiem Mass

    obsequy – noun. plural ob-se-quies. a funeral rite or ceremony.

    arval – noun. A funeral feast ORIGIN: W. arwy funeral; ar over + wylo, ‘to weep’ or cf. arf[“o]; Icelandic arfr: inheritance + Sw. [“o]i ale. Cf. Bridal.

    knell – noun. the sound made by a bell rung slowly, especially fora death or a funeral 2. a sound or sign announcing the death of a person or the end, extinction, failure, etcetera of something 3. any mournful sound 4. verb. (used without object). to sound, as a bell, especially a funeral bell 5. verb. to give forth a mournful, ominous, or warning sound.

    bier – noun. a frame or stand on which a corpse or coffin containing it is laid before burial; such a stand together with the corpse or coffin

    coronach – noun. (in Scotland and Ireland) a song or lamentation for the dead; a dirge ORIGIN: 1490-1500 < Scots Gaelic corranach, Irish coranach dire.

    epicedium – noun. plural epicedia. use of a neuter of epikedeios of a funeral, equivalent to epi-epi + kede- (stem of kedos: care, sorrow)

    funerate – verb. to bury with funeral rites

    inhumation – verb(used with an object). to bury

    nenia – noun. a funeral song; an elegy

    pibroch – noun. (in the Scottish Highlands) a piece of music for the bagpipe, consisting of a series of variations on a basic theme, usually martial in character, but sometimes used as a dirge

    pollinctor – noun. one who prepared corpses for the funeral

    saulie – noun. a hired mourner at a funeral

    thanatousia – noun. funeral rites

    ullagone – noun. a cry of lamentation; funeral lament. also, a cry of sorrow ORIGIN: Irish-Gaelic

    ulmaceous – of or like elms

    uloid – noun. a scar

    flagon – noun. a large bottle for drinks such as wine or cide

    ullage – noun. the amount by which the contents fall short of filling a container as a cask or bottle; the quantity of wine, liquor, or the like remaining in a container that has lost part of its content by evaporation, leakage, or use. 3. Rocketry. the volume of a loaded tank of liquid propellant in excess of the volume of the propellant; the space provided for thermal expansion of the propellant and the accumulation of gases evolved from it

    suttee – (also, sati) noun. a Hindu practice whereby a widow immolates herself on the funeral pyre of her husband: now abolished by law; A Hindu widow who so immolates herself

    myriologue – noun. the goddess of fate or death. An extemporaneous funeral song, composed and sung by a woman on the death of a friend.

    threnody – noun. a poem, speech, or song of lamentation, especially for the dead; dirge; funeral song

    charing cross – noun. a square and district in central London, England: major railroad terminals.

    feretory – noun. a container for the relics of a saint; reliquary. 2. an enclosure or area within a church where such a reliquary is kept 3. a portable bier or shrine

    sthenic – adjective. dated Medicine. of or having a high or excessive level of strength and energy

    toff – Noun. British Informal. Derogatory. An upper-class person

    blatherskite – Noun. A person who talks at great length without making any sense

    tatterdemalion – noun. a person in tattered clothing; a shabby person. 2. adjective. ragged; unkempt or dilapidated

    curtal – adjective. archaic. shortened, abridged, or curtailed; noun. historical. a dulcian or bassoon of the late 16th to early 18th century.

    dulcian – noun. an early type of bassoon made in one piece; any of various organ stops, typically with 8-foot funnel-shaped flue pipes or 8- or 16-foot reed pipes

    withe – noun. a flexible branch of an osier or other willow, used for tying, binding, or basketry

    osier – noun. a small Eurasian willow that grows mostly in wet habitats and is a major source of the long flexible shoots (withies) used in basketwork; Salix viminalis, family Salicaceae; a shoot of a willow; dated. any willow tree 2. noun. any of several North American dogwoods.

    directoire – adjective. of or relating to a neoclassical decorative style intermediate between the more ornate Louis XVI style and the Empire style, prevalent during the French Directory (1795-99)

    caul – noun. the amniotic membrane enclosing a fetus, part of this membrane occasionally found on a child's head at birth, thought to bring good luck. 2. historical. a woman's close-fitting indoor headdress 3. the omentum.

    undertum – noun. figurative. an implicit quality, emotion, or influence underlying the superficial aspects of something and leaving a particular impression

    surfeit – noun. [usu. in sing.] an excessive amount of something; archaic. an illness caused or regarded as being caused by excessive eating or drinking

    ruga – noun. A fold, crease, or wrinkle, as in the lining of the stomach

    swage – noun. a shaped tool or die for giving a desired form to metal by hammering or pressure; 2. a groove, ridge, or other molding o an object 3. verb. shape (metal) using a swage, esp. in order to reduce its cross section.

    And perhaps my favorite word:

    usufruct – Noun. The right to enjoy and live or take residence upon another's property short of its destruction; serfdom

    Please feel free to email me to request my complete personal dictionary/word list.

  • Lilli Connolly

    I think “Slippers” is kind of a nice word. I’m not sure why, it just sounds peaceful.

  • Elizabeth

    I have synaesthesia and, as such, I see words in color.

    Anything with an “au” is a beautiful, deep scarlet: aurora, austere, August, aura, audio, the name Aurelia, etc. These are some of my favorite words.

    I HATE the word “besides” and will go to great lengths to not use it. It’s a sickening, Pepto-like pink.

    “Liar” is a beautiful word.

  • la blitz blatz

    One of my favorite words is ‘marginal, or marginally.’ As in, “this is marginally acceptable.” Or “This candidate has a marginal understanding of what it will be like to be President.”

    I don’t get to use it much, though I used it copiously in high school. Now almost 30 years later, I still love it. Also a favorite: ‘classic.’ Sounds crisp and pleasing.

  • Ansh

    i would like to add a few words to both categories:
    beautiful:
    1. Pulchritude- personally one of my favorites meaning beauty.
    2. Fallal- sounds really attractive. It means ‘a finery’.
    3. Ubiquitous- found everywhere.
    4. Erubescent- a glowing red.
    5. Zephyr- a cold breeze. (my ticket to a good impression on descriptive pieces!)
    ugly:
    1. Dystopian- rather a dark word for bad or hellish.
    2. Contumacious- stubborn.
    3. Hydra- something emanating problems, a chain of problems such that when one is solved another appears.
    4. Quelle horreur- French phrase used to exclaim a feeling of horror.
    5. Soucouyant- a witch known from history.
    Email me and perhaps we can exchange more delightful words. Follow me on instagram: @anshkalani . Thank you! Tell me what you think.

  • Zoe Riggs

    I think we need a list of beautiful words that don’t mean beautiful things. Heres a few I thought of. Sorry if my definitions are off.
    Beautiful words that don’t match their meaning:
    woebegone (sorrowful)
    pusillanimousstar (fearful)
    synthetic (fake)
    plebeian (lower class)
    proletarian (poor)
    reverential (reverant)
    venerational (reverant)
    languishing (sad)
    atrocious (horrible)
    sombre (sullen)
    funereal (depressing)
    austere (cheerless)
    drearisome (sorrowful)
    tenebrific (gloomy)
    saturnine (gloomy)
    morose (pessimistic)
    estrange (alienate)

  • Mike

    Loved the article until you asked.

    What did I miss?
    It’s what have I missed surely.

    And Avuncular always leaves me with a nice warm feeling.

  • Ric Veness

    If ugly equates to annoying then the constant use of “ISSUE”, as a substitute noun for almost every other noun, would have to be high on my list.

  • Precise Edit

    Notice how many three-syllable words are in the beautiful lists? Human brains are respond positively to groups of three, and to a lesser extent to groups of four.

    By contrast, one- and two-syllable words appear often in lists of ugly-sounding words.

    With that said, the word with the most beautiful sound, in my opinion, is “axiom.”

    The ugliest-sounding word, again in my opinion, is “gunk.”

    And the funniest-sounding word, guaranteed to bring on giggles? “Flapdoodle.” (Again, three syllables) And that’s a fact.

  • Sage

    In my opinion, there really aren’t any “ugly” words. I mean, words that seem ugly to one person, may be beautiful to another. Especially after reading all of the comments, I know that not all words are appealing. Some words may be appealing and have an unappealing definition, which will make somebody think that it’s ugly. That’s not completely true. Don’t let somebody tell you that a word is “ugly” just because they happen to think so, that doesn’t mean that you’re different. You like what you like, don’t let anybody’s opinion change yours.

  • Wessel François Smith

    I am a logophile. I love nearly every word.

    I love the word “lilt” and “Breathtaking” in Afrikaans it is “asem rowend” it sounds lovley. One word I struggled with was “Batrachomyomachy” its meaning is a good description of what was happening when I tried pronouncing it. Afrikaans speaking ^^,

    Nemises is a word I love it sounds so romantic if you loast the pass meaning.

    Nemisism not so romantic. I get annoyed with “sm” it’s like “smsmsm”. Joys of afrikaans.

    The word I love the most is “Tranquillity”, it sounds powerful , evil, dark and scary but its meaning is serendipitous.

  • Bonnie

    I’m glad this list is still going! Several people mentioned not caring for the word “moist.” It’s used as a character’s name in at least one Terry Pratchett novel (Going Postal, I think), and a henchman has that name in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

    To me, it goes well with damp – another word that just doesn’t sound right. Too often both words are used to describe the palms of a nervous person.

  • Tigirl

    Malaise: A feeling of general unease or discomfort.
    Personally I find it wonderfully ugly. Conversely, I find ‘malady’ to be a very graceful word for something bad.
    Also, ‘penultimate,’ meaning the one right before the final.

  • Saikrishna Mukkamala

    Ugly Words:
    Hiatus,stampede,Aberrant,Abeyance,Bliss,Abhor

  • Dr. Naquib

    My list of ‘beautiful words’ include—

    synergy, team, serene, holy, sacred, domain, compassion, converge,

  • Alison

    An obscure one, but very evocative and onomatopoeic I think – ‘phantasmagoria’

    Meaning either:

    ‘a shfting series of phantasms, illusions, or deceptive appearances, as in a dream or as created by the imagination’.

    or

    ‘a changing scene made up of many elements’.

  • Milo

    Call me Mr. Simple… We’ve all had three senses (hopefully no more) tell us: nothing is more ugly than diarrhea. And ugly fast, faster than projectile vomit, the fastest ugly in the world, maybe even the universe. Before you can think, blink or turn on the light….You know…

    In a distant second place, “snot,” and not without a way-cool gross factor. A bright yellow snot bolo blow out of one nostril (the other plugged by the man’s stumped arm), spinning like a football kicked for a field goal, and it had the distance.

    Some words that use to be synonymous with beautiful are now ugly and visa-versa. Like California… Sheit fire, done went Godzilla-fugly, and on the other hand, Vietnam… one beautiful country.

    Being Irish, my four most beautiful words are: dogs, fishing, beer and women. And animals groups are pretty cool. A “murder” of crows, a “gaggle” of geese, a “litter” of pups, a “pod” of whales, a “covey” of quail, a “herd” of cows, a “case” of beer (just checking), a “school” of tuna, a “troop” of baboons (as long as you don’t see their red-puffed butts), a “rafter” of turkeys.

    Time to go “sizzle” a couple of New York Strips, sides of “grilled” asparagus and “cheese-toast.” Got to thank my “curvy” red-headed neighbor for taking care of my dog.

  • Beverly Elander

    Sluices. Exhaling air slowly through my teeth and then sliding my tongue to the roof of my mouth, slightly puckering my lips and then again making the air-through-the-teeth maneuver for me actually creates the vision and sound of the slippery movement of shallow water over flat rocks.

  • Scanlon

    Shiver.

    I’ve read up and down the comments and was surprised to not find this word, given that you experience the slightest ghost of the feeling just by reading it. It may just be me personally, but I find this to be an extremely evocative word.

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