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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.) May 2, 2011 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, 2011 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. May 2, 2011 at 19:41
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    Monty Python would call them "woody words"! youtube.com/watch?v=T70-HTlKRXo :D
    – nico
    May 3, 2011 at 11:29

9 Answers 9

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"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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  • @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, 2011 at 23:16
  • Interesting term that seems to fit. +1 for the irony that it is not fun to say.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    May 15, 2011 at 1:05
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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". May 2, 2011 at 18:59
  • Adjective, I think, but with a focus on the experience of speaking rather than the experience of hearing. (See comment above.) May 2, 2011 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. May 2, 2011 at 19:21
  • This word has always been my first choice for this.
    – user597
    May 4, 2011 at 13:33
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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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The others are good Romance derivatives. A recently popular phrase with obvious meaning is:

good mouth feel

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  • 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, 2011 at 2:14
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It seems that no word we know of is quite right, so perhaps a word should be crafted from the parts we have lying around in this thread! Specifically, I think "mellifluous" and "euphony" offer promise, even though (as the OP points out) they both are associated with an act of pleasant hearing rather than the pleasant somatic feedback from the mechanical act of speaking.

This, it seems to me, is easily fixed by drawing on another beautiful word derived from Latin, "loquacious." Though this is most commonly taken to mean "talkative," the root in Latin (loqui) simply means "to speak."

Thus, I submit for consideration either of the two following constructions:

Melloquious - Mel+loqui - (like) honey to say

Euloquious - Eu+loqui - good to say

If a loan word from another language can be found, that might be a better alternative, but if there is no fitting and compelling word to be found, then perhaps it is up to us!

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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, 2011 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/. May 5, 2011 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, 2011 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!
    – Kit Z. Fox
    May 15, 2011 at 1:11
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I was also looking for this word and never found a good one. I like the suggestions given here but wanted to add the word that I came up with for this purpose. Eulalaiic (eu-lah-lay-ic) Etymology- eu = good and ululation= high pitched trilling sound involving movement of the uvula associated with high emotion. Plus eulalaiic is really eulalaiic

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Fantysheeny might provide a close-definition and also a fun word that is an example of the phenomenon in question. It is a dialect word from Devon in the far southwest of England.

Fantysheeny: A FANTY-SHEENY is anything showy or impressive. It derives from ‘fantoccini’, an Italian word for a puppet show. [Haggard Hawks]

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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.

Mellifluous is really a good word to use here. If not mellifluous, then I suggest dulciloquious.


From the OED:

Dulciloquy: A sweet or pleasing manner of speaking; sweetness of speech.

Origin: A borrowing from Latin. Etymon: Latin dulciloquium.

Etymology: < post-classical Latin dulciloquium sweet speech (from 12th cent. in British and continental sources) < classical Latin dulcis sweet (see dulce adj.) + -loquium < loquī to speak (see -loquent comb. form)...

1998 S. Byrne H, v., & O 135 Harrison's poetry..does not commend the tongues of fire of dulciloquy and poetic eloquence as capable of bringing redemption


So a person having a sweet voice would be dulciloquent.

Dulciloquent is defined by the OED as:

Of a person: sweet-spoken. Hence also of an utterance, style, etc.: characterized by pleasing or mellifluous language.

You could use dulciloquent but I guess dulciloquious is better than dulciloquent (in this context).

Dulci means honey/sweet/pleasant, loqui means speak, -ous is a suffix which means of the nature of. So dulciloquious actually means pleasant/sweet to say.

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