A Menagerie of Mellifluousness (Words That Feel Great In Your Mouth)

We all have a favourite colour, and most of us have a favourite number, but it can be tricky to justify why we’re drawn to them. Something about them just feels right – an intuitive sense of correctness.

When it comes to choosing a favourite word, it’s possible to get a little more specific with the criteria. Maybe it’s your favourite because of the way it sounds, or because of the way it’s spelled. For me, it all comes down to the way the word rolls off the tongue and patters against the teeth. There’s actually no specific word to describe this, but people have tried in the past.

For example, in Ray Blount Jr’s Alphabet Juice, he uses the word sonicky to describe the feeling we have when words are spoken – but he ties that definition in with the meaning of the word – so a ‘sonicky’ word is one that carries a quality of the way we feel about them, like fuzzy (which feels and sounds a bit fuzzy) or sleek. Sprachgefuhl is a German word which describes the character of a language, but that’s not quite what I’m looking for either.

I think the closest we can get is mouthfeel, which is a wine-tasting word used to describe the way your mouth interacts with certain tastes – you might have a velvety merlot, for example.

Now, wait a second – Velvety. That’s got a nice mouthfeel, don’t you think? Velvety.

Try these thirteen (my favourite number) mellifluous words. Say them loudly and slowly. Delight in the pleasure of it all. Velvety.

Calamitous
Adj
ca·​lam·​i·​tous | \ kə-ˈla-mə-təs  \
1 : being, causing, or accompanied by disaster

Dibble
Noun
dib·​ble | \ ˈdi-bəl  \
1: a small hand implement used to make holes in the ground for plants, seeds, or bulbs

Homunculus
Noun
ho·​mun·​cu·​lus | \ hō-ˈməŋ-kyə-ləs  \
1: a little man : MANIKIN
2: a miniature adult that in the theory of preformation is held to inhabit the germ cell and to produce a mature individual merely by an increase in size

Hotshot
Noun
hot·​shot | \ ˈhät-ˌshät  \
1: a fast freight
2: a person who is conspicuously talented or successful

Oblique
Adj
\ ō-ˈblēk  , ə-, -ˈblīk; military usually -ˈblīk  \
1: neither perpendicular nor parallel : INCLINED
2: not straightforward : INDIRECT, OBSCURE, DEVIOUS, UNDERHANDED

Perfidious
Adj
per·​fid·​i·​ous | \ (ˌ)pər-ˈfi-dē-əs  \
1: of, relating to, or characterized by perfidy: the quality or state of being faithless or disloyal : TREACHERY
2: an act or an instance of disloyalty

Perspicacious
Adj
per·​spi·​ca·​cious | \ ˌpər-spə-ˈkā-shəs  \
1: of acute mental vision or discernment : KEEN

Pith
Noun
\ ˈpith  \
1a : a usually continuous central strand of spongy tissue in the stems of most vascular plants that probably functions chiefly in storage
b : any of various loose spongy plant tissues that resemble true pith
c : the soft or spongy interior of a part of the body
2a : the essential part : CORE
b : substantial quality (as of meaning)
3 : IMPORTANCE

Spackle
Verb
spack·​le | \ ˈspa-kəl  \
1: to apply Spackle paste or other crack-filling paste

Serendipitous
Adj
ser·​en·​dip·​i·​tous | \ ˌser-ən-ˈdi-pə-təs  \
1: obtained or characterized by the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for

Smarmy
Adj
\ ˈsmär-mē  \
1: revealing or marked by a smug, ingratiating, or false earnestness
2: of low sleazy taste or quality

Tarradiddle
Noun
tar·​a·​did·​dle | \ ˌter-ə-ˈdi-dᵊl  , ˌta-rə-ˈdi-dᵊl, ˈter-ə-ˌdi-dᵊl, ˈta-rə-ˌdi-dᵊl\
1 : a trivial or childish lie : FIB
2 : pretentious nonsense

Whangdoodle
Noun
whang·​doo·​dle | \ (ˈ)(h)waŋ¦düdᵊl, -waiŋ-\
1a: an imaginary creature of undefined character
b: one that whangs especially : a person who loudly and angrily complains about things: RANTER
2: stuff and nonsense : POPPYCOCK, FRIPPERY
3: whangdoodles plural : ROODLES