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Joanita Wibowo

The most popular words in the English language

The most popular words in the English language

What is your favourite word in the English language?

The most appealing word can vary for each person. Some people favour beautiful-sounding words, such as aquiver (adjective, defined as “quivering or trembling”), mellifluous (adjective, “smooth and musical to hear”), and discombobulated (adjective, “upset” or “confused”).

Others decide on their favourite word based on the meaning or what they represent. Some examples include serendipity (noun, “the chance occurrence and development of events in a beneficial way”), defenestration (noun, “the act of throwing someone out of the window”) and petrichor (noun, “a pleasant smell frequently accompanying the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather”).

If English is not your first language, this may influence your answer, too. In 2004, the British Council surveyed more than 40,000 people in 102 non-English speaking countries to discover the most beautiful words in the language.

The word “mother” came out on top of the list of 70 words, winning over other contenders such as “passion”, “love” and “eternity”. Greg Selby, spokesman for the Council said, “It's interesting that mother, the only word of the 70 that describes a direct relationship between people, came top of the poll.”