Word of the Day : October 17, 2017

euphony

play
noun YOO-fuh-nee

Definition

1 : pleasing or sweet sound; especially : the acoustic effect produced by words so formed or combined as to please the ear

2 : a harmonious succession of words having a pleasing sound

Did You Know?

Euphony was borrowed from French at the beginning of the 17th century; the French word (euphonie) derives from the Late Latin euphonia, which in turn traces back to the Greek adjective euphōnos, meaning "sweet-voiced" or "musical." Euphōnos was formed by combining the prefix eu- ("good") and phōnē ("voice"). In addition to its more commonly recognized senses, euphony also has a more specific meaning in the field of linguistics, where it can refer to the preference for words that are easy to pronounce. This preference may be the cause of an observed trend of people altering the pronunciation of certain words—apparently in favor of sound combinations that are more fluid and simpler to say out loud.


Examples

He awakened on a warm morning to the euphony of birdsong outside his window.

"After the war, 'A Shropshire Lad' travelled in the breast pockets of the generation who had taken up rambling and rediscovering the English countryside, even though—aside from a few place names, like Bredon Hill and Wenlock Edge, evidently chosen more for euphony than for anything else—it's not much of a geographic guide." — Charles McGrath, The New Yorker, 26 June 2017



Word Family Quiz

What adjective derived from Greek phōnē means "harsh-sounding"?

VIEW THE ANSWER

Podcast


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!