Have you ever thought about whether cellar door should be a contender among the most euphonious phrases in the English language? Our discussion of this prompted hundreds of readers to reply with their top picks for the best-sounding word or phrase in English. The results are eclectic, poetic and exotic. Below are the words that were suggested by the greatest number of people.
The popular reaction to cellar door was one of skepticism; variations on the term, such as celladora, were suggested. As one person wrote, “Celladora is a very pretty name. It reminds me of an open field, rushing stream of spring water, the sun peeking out from behind the mountains…” Unfortunately, celladora is not an actual word.
The most frequently suggested word was serendipity. Unlike cellar door, which evokes a dank, underground room, serendipity has the advantage of positive associations. It means “an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident,” it derives from an old name for what is now Sri Lanka, as well as a Persian folktale in which the heroes were often making accidental discoveries.
A sampling of other user suggestions, in no particular order: soliloquy, epiphany, Elysium and elysian, scissors, vivacious, fudge, telephony, nycthemeron, cinnamon, woodthrush, phosphorescence, lithe, and languorous.
One commenter submitted the following words, noting that they have “a bumpy, or hill-like, nature” and are “mildly synaesthesiac” in a way: velvety, purple, Venezuela.
And one person chimed in with a contrary opinion: “I would like to vote “moist” as the most gross-sounding word in the English language.”