AskDefine | Define euphonious

Dictionary Definition

euphonious adj
1 having a pleasant sound; "a euphonious trill of silver laughter" [syn: euphonous] [ant: cacophonous]
2 (of speech or dialect) pleasing in sound; not harsh or strident; "her euphonious Southern speech"

User Contributed Dictionary



  • (UK) /juːˈfəʊniəs/
  • (US) /juːˈfoʊniəs/


  1. Pleasant-sounding; agreeable to the ear; possessing or demonstrating euphony.


Extensive Definition

Phonaesthetics is the claim or study of inherent pleasantness or beauty (euphony) or unpleasantness (cacophony) of the sound of certain linguistic utterances. Poetry is often considered euphonic, as is well-crafted literary prose. Important phonaesthetic devices of poetry are rhyme, assonance and alliteration. Closely related to euphony and cacophony is the concept of consonance and dissonance.
The phrase cellar door has some notoriety as the reputedly most euphonic sound combination of the English language (specifically, when spoken with a British accent).
From this meaning should be distinguished the closely related but different concept of phonaesthesia, which does not refer directly to aesthetic attributes of sound, but to phonetic elements that are inherently associated with a semantic meaning. The term was introduced by J. R. Firth in 1930 "The phonæsthetic habits [...] and are of general importance in speech." Firth defined a phonaestheme as "a phoneme or cluster of phonemes shared by a group of words which also have in common some element of meaning or function, though the words may be etymologically unrelated."

Sub-phonematic euphony

In most languages, difficult to pronounce phonetic combinations will be adapted to allow more flowing speech, for reasons of ease of pronunciation rather than aesthetics. These adaptations will be sub-phonematic at first, but over several generations will lead to phonematically relevant sound changes


  • Ross Smith, Inside Language - Linguistic and Aesthetic Theory in Tolkien, Walking Tree Publishers (2007), ISBN 978-3-905703-06-1.
euphonious in German: Euphonie
euphonious in Esperanto: Belsoneco
euphonious in French: Euphonie
euphonious in Dutch: Euphony
euphonious in Japanese: 音便
euphonious in Polish: Eufonia
euphonious in Portuguese: Eufonia
euphonious in Slovak: Eufónia

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

achingly sweet, agreeable, agreeable-sounding, appealing, ariose, arioso, balanced, canorous, cantabile, catchy, concinnate, concinnous, dulcet, euphonic, euphonical, euphonous, fine-toned, flowing, fluent, golden, golden-tongued, golden-voiced, harmonious, honeyed, measured, melic, mellifluent, mellifluous, mellisonant, mellow, melodic, melodious, music-flowing, music-like, musical, ordered, orderly, pleasant, pleasant-sounding, rich, silver-toned, silver-tongued, silver-voiced, silvery, singable, smooth, smooth-sounding, songful, songlike, sonorous, sweet, sweet-flowing, sweet-sounding, symmetrical, tripping, tunable, tuneful
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