These are the 10 most beautiful English words that’ll make you cry

most beautiful English words
The most beautiful English words help us do the most human thing possible: express our love. Source: AFP

Everyone talks about how learning the English language is important but not about how fun, poetic and unique the world’s most popular language is.

Although often overshadowed by French, Spanish and Italian, English is a language filled with beauty and charms. The most beautiful English words have a certain power over us and anyone who hears them.

It’s hard to define beauty or know fully what it is. But we know it’s important to have beautiful things in life, whether it’s our Spotify playlists, the sunsets we catch, our makeup packaging or the smiles of our loved ones.

We can feel, in the midst of beauty, including the most beautiful words in English, how we’re uplifted and pulled from our ordinary lives and taken to somewhere far richer and far more enchanting.

Many languages have special words and phrases that can do this.

But what makes the most beautiful words in English beyond compare is how widely they’re used.

Beauty by the billions

English is spoken by 1.5 billion people worldwide as of June 2023 — slightly higher than Mandarin, which had 1.1 billion speakers at the time of the survey.

As it’s the world’s language, English is what we see on our apps, websites, and most of the technology that powers our lives today.

As handphones become smartphones and Vine gives way to TikTok, so do the English words and phrases used on them.

Gen Z, in particular those born between 1997 and 2012, have developed a whole different way of communicating, thanks to the rise of social media and how it can make a post seen by billions in a matter of hours.

This generation is the first age cohort which has been exposed to the new digital metaverse from infancy, says Tony Thorne, an expert linguist from King’s College London.

“We have also changed our spelling to include numbers, like from ‘mate’ to ‘m8’, and formed new internet-specific verbs such as ‘to google’ and ‘to tweet’,” says Thorne.

“Social media allows spoken language to become written language and then helps language to go global virtually instantaneously.”

One term that made headlines in 2022 was “goblin mode” – defined as “a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.

It was voted into the Oxford English Dictionary and chosen as 2022’s word of the year.

Even Elon Musk jumped on the bandwagon and made it famous. He used it in a tweet and attributed it to his takeover.

most beautiful words in english

William Shakespeare is one of the famous people that wrote and crafted the English language beautifully. Source: Leon Neal/AFP

What makes certain words the most beautiful English words today?

With or without new trends, there are timeless traits that make English a captivating language:

  • Melody and rhythm — English sounds like music, thanks to its pronunciation and rhythm. The stress patterns, intonation, and cadence of spoken English can create a pleasing and expressive sound.
  • Vocabulary and expressiveness — English boasts a vast vocabulary, drawing from multiple sources and other languages. Combined,  these allow for precise and nuanced expression.
  • Literary heritage — As the language of power, this made English authors and poets the dominant figures in the literary scene. Today, most of the world knows of and even study its classics, ranging from Dickens to Shakespeare.
  • Linguistic flexibility – English readily loans words from other languages. These diverse influences may be a little random and wacky, but this is what ultimately enriches a language.
  • Clarity and simplicity — English is often praised for having simple and clear grammar rules. Sentences are pretty straightforward, making it easy to learn and to get one’s message across.

As Confucius said, “Everyone has beauty but not everyone sees it.” Behind many of our everyday words, phrases and sentences is a rich history that inspires the most morose of souls.

The following list uncovers them and lets us see the most beautiful words in English today:

most beautiful words in english

This long-exposure picture taken shows a view of the Milky Way galaxy in the sky. Source: Ibrahim Chalhoub/AFP

The 10 most beautiful English words

1. Galactic

The word “galactic” refers to galaxies, especially the Milky Way galaxy. It can also mean immense or massive.

The word originated from the word “galaxy”, which came from the Greek word “galaxies” (Γαλαξίας.) This word came from the word γάλα (gala – meaning milk).

The ancient Greeks saw these stars all together and pictured milk being poured into the sky.

When one says “galactic,” it instantly makes us feel like a grain of sand in a galaxy that contains 100 to 400 billion stars and is about 100,000 light-years across.

It conjures up an image of a dark sky background, with elegant, luminous, spiral swirls that are floating through space and time.

They’re like glittering cities, ones we may never visit in this lifetime, but we can admire from afar in wonderment and awe.

most beautiful words in english

The word “elixir” was used a number of times in the Harry Potter movies. Source: Yuichi Yamazaki/AFP

2. Elixir

Aptly used many times in Harry Potter movies, the word “elixir” refers to a magical or medicinal potion;

The word does tend to roll off one’s tongue in a nice and smooth manner, making it one of the most beautiful English words today.

The word elixir has a few meanings, including:

  • a medicinal concoction
  • a substance that could change base metals to gold
  • a sweetened liquid usually containing alcohol
  • an essential principle

What makes it stand out is its origin from the Greek word “xērion” which has a life-changing meaning, i.e. “powder for drying wounds.”

3. Cellar door

An unconventional choice — and that’s thanks to fantasy writer J. R. R. Tolkien finding it lovely.

You have to separate the ordinary meaning of this phrase to truly understand why it’s one of the most beautiful English words today.

It’s to be appreciated by sound and cadence alone. Still puzzled? Don’t be. It’s said you have to be brainy, foreign or both to find the phrase to be exceptional.

most beautiful words in english

Syzygy is one of the most beautiful words in English because of its pronunciation and its meaning. Source: David Gannon/AFP

4. Syzygy

I bet you are thinking this isn’t a real word, but we can guarantee you it is.

A word forming from the Greek language, syzygy means an alignment of three celestial objects: sun, moon, and earth.

The Greek word “syzygía” means union or pair, while “sy” means together.

“Zyg” is said to be a distant relative of the English yoke.

Another interesting fact? Syzygy isn’t the only English word containing three “y”, but it is likely the shortest.

This word was first recorded in the 1650s.

5. Felicity

Before you say, isn’t that a name? Well, yes, it is. But it also has meaning to it.

Felicity comes from the Latin word “Felicitas” and means happiness.

In Roman mythology, Felicitas was considered the personification of the goddess of success and good luck.

The word has a beautiful four-syllable sound, and that is what makes it one of the most beautiful words in English.

most beautiful words in english

One of the most beautiful words in English, “panacea” was formed from two Greek ancient words. Source: Sakis Mitridolidis/AFP

6. Panacea

Here is another one of the most beautiful words in English. “Panacea” is a remedy that can cure or heal anything.

It is a combination of two Greek words – “pan”, meaning all, and “akos” meaning remedy.

Panacea is derived from Greek pancakes, which translates into all healing.

In Greek mythology, Panakeia was the goddess of universal healing, and she was believed to have a potion that would cure any sickness or disease.

The first known use of the word panacea in English was in 1548.

most beautiful English words

Found your soulmate in the most romantic city in the world? Some may call that serendipity. Source: AFP

7. Serendipity

This has made the list of our most beautiful words in English for a reason.

The pop of the “D” and the “P” gives it an added rhythm and makes it fun to say.

Legend has it that Gothic literature pioneer and author of “The Castle of Otranto” Horace Walpole coined the word “serendipity” in a letter to someone called Horace Mann.

He wrote to tell him of a happy occasion, which now gave meaning to the word.

Walpole had discovered a link between his and Mann’s family by investigating their coats of arms.

This was a snippet of how and where he used the word – “This discovery, indeed, is almost of that kind which I call Serendipity, a very expressive word, which, as I have nothing better to tell you, I shall endeavour to explain to you.”

It is said he was inspired by a fairy tale called “The Three Princes of Serendip.”

“Serendip” was an archaic name for Sri Lanka.

most beautiful words in english

“Blossoming” is one of our picks of the most beautiful words in English. Source: Raymond Roig/AFP

8. Blossoming

Blossoming refers to a blooming period or stage of development – something wholesome that gives a rich promise.

When a person says the word “blossoming,” it immediately brings to mind a picture of a beautiful flower blooming under the morning sun.

And that’s part of why it is one of the most beautiful words in English today.

It can also refer to a person growing, flourishing, and becoming more attractive in more ways than just looks.

For instance, when a relationship blossoms, it means two people falling more in love than ever and becoming closer.

When a fruit blossoms, it then ripens and can be plucked and enjoyed.

most beautiful words in english

The name Aurora was chosen for one of the classic Disney princesses in Sleeping Beauty. Source: Pierre Verdy and Eric Feferberg/AFP

9. Aurora

Most of you might immediately think of Princess Aurora from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, and rightly so.

She was indeed written to be mystical and beautiful.

The word “aurora” comes from Latin, meaning dawn. Aurora was the Roman goddess of dawn.

The name is used in several romantic languages in the world.

Aurora is used in English, Finnish, German, Italian, Romanian, Spanish, and Portuguese.

In some languages, the spelling and pronunciation are different but carry the same meaning:

  • Aurore (French)
  • Avrora (Russian, Ukrainian)
most beautiful English words

Tranquillity, one of the most beautiful English words today, can be found in the most remote locations on the planet, such as Kangding county, the capital of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in China’s southwestern Sichuan province. Source: AFP

10. Tranquillity

Another word originating from Latin, tranquillity means a sense of peace or quiet. Some may find it while sitting by the beach; for some, it could be driving down a freeway.

The root word means “exceedingly” and “rest” or “quiet”.

Most say it is the “qu” sound in the middle of the word that makes it one of the most beautiful words in English.

It has gentle consonant sounds and a mix of long and short vowels while rolling off your tongue nicely.