Saturday, April 28, 2007

What is the most beautiful word in the English language?


A cellar door is a door that allows entrance to, or exit from, a cellar. A widely repeated claim holds that the phrase cellar-door is the most beautiful in the English language.

Cellar door is a combination of words in the English language once characterized by J. R. R. Tolkien to have an especially beautiful sound. In his 1955 essay "English and Welsh", commenting on his affection towards the Welsh language, Tolkien wrote:

"Most English-speaking people...will admit that cellar door is 'beautiful', especially if dissociated from its sense (and from its spelling). More beautiful than, say, sky, and far more beautiful than beautiful. Well then, in Welsh for me cellar doors are extraordinarily frequent, and moving to the higher dimension, the words in which there is pleasure in the contemplation of the association of form and sense are abundant."

Tolkien also once used the phrase to illustrate a point about his writing process during an interview:

"Supposing you say some quite ordinary words to me - 'cellar door', say. From that, I might think of a name, 'Selador', and from that a character, a situation begins to grow."
Tolkien's discourse is the most likely origin of this concept and the only documented one.

What is your favorite word?


juLai said...

Hi PlusultrA,thanks a lot for dropping at my blog. You have a very informative blog. I didn't now that cellar door is the most beautiful word in the english language until i read it in your blog.
Is it ok if i'll link you up?

Natty said...

My Favorite word is sushi...hehe