Monday, March 12, 2012

The Most Beautiful Word

The Most Beautiful Word in the English Language

I was reminded of a “word”, of sorts yesterday.  My brother asked me if I remembered the most beautiful word in the English language.  He said I had told him many years ago when we were children...so that was a lot of years ago.  He remembers everything about our childhood years.
I couldn’t remember, until he reminded me: cellardoor.  Yes, now I remember saying that.
Technically that isn’t a word; it’s two words.  But I was a kid.  We said it as one word, like football, mailbox...a compound word.  But I’d never written it, nor asked anyone how to spell it.  So if I’d written it, I’d have probably not even spelled “cellar” correctly.
Say the word softly, running the two words together.  Make sure the primary emphasis is on “door” and the secondary one is on the first syllable.  Got it.  Now do it.  Isn’t it just about the prettiest word you have ever said or heard?  Well, I thought so.  And as soon as he said it, I was brought back to a time long ago in our old kitchen in Woolwich, Maine, on our 10 acre “farm”.
I was reminded of why I probably was even saying the word.  The cellar door was the spot we recorded our heights every year or so.  All four of the D’s lined up with heels snug to the wall while Mom made that line pressing down on the tops of our heads.  Then we’d step forward with grins of anticipation, looking to see how many feet taller we’d grown that year.
Sometimes during the day we’d stop back for a peek, and ask Mom to measure us again, to see if we’d grown any after that grilled cheese sandwich and fruit cocktail.  We never had.  It is funny how you can not see growth but it is happening.
We moved from the house after I started ninth grade.  I’d have to go into our neighboring city, Bath, to go to Junior High and High School, so it was going to be an inconvenience to have to drive me each day.  Nope.  Buses didn’t run out to the country folk back then.  If you wanted to go to school after 8th grade, you had better find a way to get there.  So we moved our solidly knit family, bringing our ruler to measure and our pencil for marking.  But I don’t remember any other place we got measured other than at the "cellardoor" in Woolwich.
What do you think is the most beautiful word in the English language?

15 comments:

  1. I loved how your childhood "most beautiful word" became a story of remembrance. You've got me thinking...

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    1. 'Remembrance' is a pretty word, too. I like that it was used as a girl's name long ago. I'm wondering what word you came up with though.

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  2. I've always loved, for some reason, the word serendipity. I love what it connotes - the hopefulness of it...and I loved the story you shared. We had a door like that for our kids, it was the one thing I missed when we had to move.

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    1. Maybe it's that S sound again...

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  3. I went from one person's blog that said "the "f" word"- not what you might think by the way to your most beautiful word. Anyway semantics is a wonderful thing. The words truly are in the ear of the beholder! I like "cellardoor" but you've got me thinking as well. I liked "melancholy"- just because it seemed to have a melody of it's own. There's really too many words to pick just one. A wonderful story with the word. Isn't it curious how words, sounds and smells can take us back to a moment in time. Thanks for sharing! Happy Slicing! :)

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    1. Melancholy would make a nice name, except for its meaning. It does have a nice flow to it.

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  4. A very unique way to start a great reflection on your childhood. Beautiful writing.

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    1. Thank you. And you have used a pretty word...'unique'.

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  5. I love that! I had a friend who always said she wanted to name her daughter "sickle-cell anemia" because she loved the way it slid off of her tongue, even though we knew the meaning was nothing to savor.

    I am a fan of the word hyperbole, myself. But I definitely see what you meant about cellardoor. I like the word cellar by itself even.

    Words are beautiful. And I love the way you use them to give us snippets of the history of YOU. That detail about being measured against the cellar door is precious!

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    1. "Sickle-cell anemia" - LOL! It does slide off the tongue nicely though! Hyperbole I can hear with an Italian accent - nice!

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  6. When I read the title of your post, my assumptions were, "love," "compassion," "kindness." So, when I discovered your choice for the most beautiful word, I was pleasantly surprised! I love how your favorite word goes hand-in-hand with your memories. I like "plethora." Sounds like it could be the name of a greek goddess.

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    1. Oh, yes, I can see "Plethora" as a Greek goddess, and she would be very beautiful! What do you suppose she would be known for?

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  7. I loved saying Idi Amim Dada, I abhorred the man but love the way the sound rolled off my tongue. I threatened my husband that I might want to name our son Idi Amin Dada, but settled on David. That is the most beautiful word to me.

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    1. I'm assuming you meant David is now the most beautiful word NOW, but Idi Amin Dada was until your son was born! Do I have that right? My brother's name is David. My mom thought that was a wonderful word, too.

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  8. What a wonderful slice. I love that your brother asked you to remember that most beautiful word. My brother is a word-keeper of a different kind. He reminds me of a word that makes me laugh no matter who says it, even to this day. My niece says it to me now because she knows it's guaranteed to make me giggle. It's a nonsense word from some song we knew as children. I've no idea how to spell it, but it could be: nimblestaudy. (Even typing it just now made me smile.) Silly.

    The most beautiful word? Oh, I love so many words. I've always thought "slope" was one of the most perfect words, even if not beautiful exactly. I like the way it slides from my mouth, slides from the "sl" to the long "o" through to the "p" ... a word that sounds like what it is. It pleases me.

    Thanks for this lovely slice!

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