Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
December 9th, 2014
Episode 40 of 830 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 09, 2014 is: mellifluous \muh-LIFF-luh-wus\ adjective 1 : having a smooth rich flow 2 : filled with something (such as honey) that sweetens Examples: The young diva has a powerful, mellifluous voice that makes her album a sweet aural confection. "Corr recorded the album in Los Angeles with producer Mitchell Froom, and the style looks back to the mellifluous pop of the Carpenters, Dusty Springfield, and Burt Bacharach, music her parents played when she was a kid in the '70s." Steve Klinge, Philadelphia Inquirer, March 14, 2014 Did you know? In Latin, mel means "honey" and fluere means "to flow." Those two linguistic components flow smoothly together in mellifluus (from Late Latin) and mellyfluous (from Middle English), the ancestors of mellifluous. The adjective these days typically applies to sound, as it has for centuries. In 1671, for example, Milton wrote in Paradise Regained of the "Wisest of men; from whose mouth issu'd forth Mellifluous streams." But mellifluous can also be used of flavor, as when wine critic Eric Asimov used it to describe pinot grigio in the book Wine With Food: "Most pinot grigios give many people exactly what they want: a mellifluous, easy-to-pronounce wine that can be ordered without fear of embarrassment and that is at the least cold, refreshing, and for the most part cheap."