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I'm looking for a single word for words that are fun/easy/pleasant to say—words that roll off the tongue, so to speak.

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In response to the first three responders, I'm looking for a word that specifically relates to the pleasure of speaking a word, not hearing a word. I want the oral equivalent of the aural mellifluous. (If it exists.) –  Callithumpian May 2 '11 at 19:05
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@Calli: Er, I don't think there are any words that feel good. The reason it would be fun to say is because of the way they sound. If you were completely deaf I doubt you would get a different sense of pleasure from one word or the other. Or perhaps I am completely misunderstanding your request? –  MrHen May 2 '11 at 19:17
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@MrHen: Well, the phrase roll off the tongue is a good example. Its focus is the mechanics of speech, how some words seem to naturally flow and some seem to catch us up, or "twist" our tongues. I'm wondering if there is a single word that gets at this phenomenon apart from describing how those words sound once spoken. –  Callithumpian May 2 '11 at 19:41
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Monty Python would call them "woody words"! youtube.com/watch?v=T70-HTlKRXo :D –  nico May 3 '11 at 11:29

5 Answers 5

"Phonaesthetics" describes the study of such things and the appropriate word would be "euphony" or "euphonious":

A pronunciation of letters and syllables which is pleasing to the ear. (wiktionary)


Edit in response:

The phrase "articulatory phonetics" describes "how humans produce speech sounds via the interaction of different physiological structures." Phonaesthetics describes the more abstract aesthetics associated with speech. "Phonetics" includes the physical motion of speaking. Therefore, I claim that phonaesthetics includes the physical aesthetics of speech. "Euphony" refers to the pure sound aesthetics but either of these two terms should work:

  • phonaesthetics
  • articulatory phonaesthetics
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+1 for effort. I was hoping for something less specialized, but it may not be out there. –  Callithumpian May 2 '11 at 22:57
    
@Calli: Yeah. Hopefully it is... or will be. For what it is worth, I don't think the phrase "roll off your tongue" really implies anything physically appealing. I always took it as a metaphor. But this is also a likely case for me being different than the norm. :P –  MrHen May 2 '11 at 23:16
    
Interesting term that seems to fit. +1 for the irony that it is not fun to say. –  KitFox May 15 '11 at 1:05

Mellifluous, maybe?

I'm not sure if you are looking for an adjective that describes them, or a noun.

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Or maybe "melodious". –  MikeVaughan May 2 '11 at 18:59
    
Adjective, I think, but with a focus on the experience of speaking rather than the experience of hearing. (See comment above.) –  Callithumpian May 2 '11 at 19:15
    
@Calli Honestly, I dont think it does. Haha. I think this is as good as you're gonna get. But I definitely see what you're going for, I just don't think there's an English word for it. –  MikeVaughan May 2 '11 at 19:21
    
This word has always been my first choice for this. –  mickeyf May 4 '11 at 13:33

Mellifluous seems like a good fit. It itself is pleasing to say (a bonus!). :-) It comes from the Latin for "flowing" and "honey".

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Using @MrHen's answer as a springboard, I jumped around Wikipedia's phonetic entries some and came across liquid consonants, of which English has two, /l/ and /r/. There's this on the etymology of the term:

The grammarian Dionysius Thrax used the Greek word ὑγρος (hugros, "moist") to describe the /l,r,m,n/ phonemes of classical Greek.[2] Most commentators assume that this referred to their "slippery" effect on meter in classical Greek verse when they occur as the second member of a consonant cluster.[2] This word was calqued into Latin as liquidus, whence it has been retained in the Western European phonetic tradition.

Apart from the technical definition of the term here, I like liquid as a possible answer to my question, all the more so because it is actually used in a phonetical context.

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Mmm... it seems rocky to pull a term already used in phonetics and linguistics for a completely unrelated meaning. The term applies to a specific type of consonant and has nothing to do with aesthetics. If those two sounds happen to be what you find pleasing, great; but this term does not imply "words that roll off the tongue." You say you like the term despite its meaning but because of its association with phonetics. This would be like me saying "I like the word plosives; that will be I use for nice sounding words. And, conveniently, it is already associated with phonetics!" –  MrHen May 5 '11 at 17:56
    
@MrHen: Maybe so. I wouldn't go so far as to say completely unrelated, though. There's the whole moist, slippery thing. And if any consonant is going to roll, it seems it would be an /l/ or an /r/. –  Callithumpian May 5 '11 at 22:50
    
If you want a technical sound that mimics a "roll" you could use trill. Slippery makes sense because it is just adjective; liquid is a technical term. And this entire route really restricts the appropriate term to what you find pleasurable to say... which certainly helps you. :) –  MrHen May 5 '11 at 23:00
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I like "liquid" too, because it's descriptive and also fun to say. "Liquid language" Yum! Loquacious liquid language! –  KitFox May 15 '11 at 1:11

The others are good Romance derivatives. A recently popular phrase with obvious meaning is:

good mouth feel

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+1 I thought of mouthfeel but knew it usually described food. Have you heard it in relation to words? –  Callithumpian May 2 '11 at 22:51
    
I feel like I only recently heard it (past few months) in relation to words, but google helped me find it on Language Log, mentioned in passing (as though it were a well used word). Next question...what's the original use of 'mouthfeel' for words? –  Mitch May 3 '11 at 2:14

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