Wednesday, December 30, 2015

10 Most Beautiful Words, and a Beautiful Lady

photo courtesy of
"Wilfred J. Funk, poet, lexicographer and president of Funk and Wagnalls, once listed what he considered the ten most beautiful words in the English language--'beautiful in meaning and in the musical arrangement of their letters.' His list, compiled after a 'thorough sifting of thousands of words,' is: dawn, hush, lullaby, murmuring, tranquil, mist, luminous, chimes, golden, and melody." (source: One Thousand Beautiful Things, 1947)

Wilfred Funk (1883-1965) was one-time president of his family's publishing business, a company known for producing encyclopedias and dictionaries. He not only made a living with words, he played with words, rearranged them, relished them.

Clara Margaret, at age seventeen
I was reminded of beautiful words this past week as we celebrated my mother's life after her passing the day before Christmas Eve. Kind words. Comforting words. Strengthening words.

And so, following Wilfred's example (his list was written in 1932), I've compiled my own list of Ten Most Beautiful Words in the English Language. Unlike Wilfred, the words on my list may not come from a systematic sifting of thousands of words nor roll off the tongue with any particular kind of music. But they do express the beauty of a special lady, my mom:

          family                         dignity
          friends                        kindness
          love                             loyalty
          compassion              sacrifice
          courage                     grit

She'll also be remembered by the many quilts she stitched, the times around the table playing dominoes with kids, grandkids, great-grands--and the flash of her welcoming smile.

one of Mom's quilts

She will be missed a whole big bunch.


  1. Sorry for your loss! Those ten words describe a beautiful, strong woman. Love the photo of her as a teen. Take care.

  2. So sorry to hear about your mother. That's a great loss at any time of year, but especially poignant at Christmas. I'll be thinking of you.

  3. Hi, Kenda, so sorry for your loss. I know you will miss her. She sounds like a wonderful lady. I love your choice of words. If one can inspire those ten words, one has had a life worth living for sure. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  4. Her beautiful spirit has gone to glory, hallelulah, where there is no more suffering and tears. I'll remember you and yours in my prayers. She will be missed, for sure, but you will see her again one day. Jesus promised.

  5. We are glad we were able to see her one last time. What a special treat. She will be always in our hearts.

  6. I agree with Elabeth Varadan's comment, "I love your choice of words. If one can inspire those ten words, one has had a life worth living for sure."

    I can assure you, Ms. Varadan, that this woman had an inspiring and WONDER-FULL life. She lives on in the heart and soul of some very special children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. ...not to mention those who called her friend.

    My only wish and hope is that we can be as inspiring as Clara Black and leave such a powerful legacy! That, I guarantee, is no small endeavor!

  7. Sharon, Peggy, Elizabeth, and Cathy--thanks so much for your kind words. Appreciate them very much :-)

    And to Suzan, we too were glad you got to see her on your visit that day in late November. You and the children surely lit up the room for her when you walked in! A special memory for all of us...

    And cismaire (aka Donna!)--your words, too, are very kind. You knew her up close and personal--along with some of the things she went through--and I'm thankful she touched your life in such a special way. She was quite an example, wasn't she? Thanks so much for your comments!