15 Words Which Sound Like Their Meanings

I love words. As a writer and speaker, I often have the opportunity to pull double duty with the English language. Along the way, I’ve learned that some words look better on the page while others need to be spoken out loud for full effect. When spoken, some roll off the tongue and others catch in your throat. There are words which don’t sound remotely like their meaning (such as “forceps,” which always makes me think of a muscle), but some of my favorites are those which actually do.

Try saying these out loud (either alone or with an suitably empathetic person):

  1. Leisurely
  2. Slop
  3. Myopic
  4. Whip
  5. Mellifluous
  6. Lewd
  7. Phlegm
  8. Decrepit
  9. Twang
  10. Cringe
  11. Besotted
  12. Quick
  13. Gnarled
  14. Blabbermouth
  15. Meticulousness

How about you? What’cha got?

craig hodgkins

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~ by Craig Hodgkins on August 8, 2007.

29 Responses to “15 Words Which Sound Like Their Meanings”

  1. I’ve always loved how the word “pith” sounds like what you actually do when you’re spitting out the orange pith that found it’s way into your mouth without your consent.

  2. yeth, I like pith too.

  3. And WUV-TWUE WUV-WILL FOWOW YOU FOWEVA. From the Princess Bride.

    As for the word “pith”, it brings back memories of pithing frogs
    in Biology Lab. You punched a large needle into the top of the frog’s head between his eyes and squiggle his brains so he will be paralyzed for dissection. PITH. The reason I failed Biology in 1979.

  4. If someone stuck a needle between my eyes and squiggled my brains, I’d be pithed.

  5. I’ve always thought that circuitous and titillating both sound like their meaning… the vowels seem to go around in a circle in the former, and the latter is sort of peck-pecky as though someone were tapping on my senses saying “notice me.” (here via a Google search on “words that sound like their meaning.”)

  6. How about extrude?

  7. how about sizzle?

  8. i think words like smash,crash,smooth,snake,crack,break,etc,all sound like their meanings.i was actually looking for the word that terms this.think it it anametapoeic or something

  9. Onomatopoeia refers to a word imitating a specific sound it describes.

  10. MOXIE!

  11. Is that the attitude, or the beverage?

  12. The attitude baby! Don’t you think “moxie” sounds like it has a lot of moxie?

  13. [...] of moxie.  Lo and behold, I am not alone in ruminating over such things because I googled upon my identical blog-post twin.  Damn it’s lovely to know you’re not alone in your [...]

  14. Absolutely! You stated that with moxie!

  15. crisp
    say it “crisssspp”

  16. Sharp — notice how ‘sharp’ the P sounds
    Discombobulate — even a bit confusing to pronounce
    Frenetic – feel a bit frenzied whenever i use this word

  17. How about “persnickety”?

  18. Hi guys, how about everyday really simple easy words that “sound” good – either rolling or scratching your throat?

  19. We thought ‘shine’ is another good example. Sounds bright and full of life. My son Jack, aged 7, thinks ‘thwack’ is a better one!!! Aren’t words fun!

  20. you guys are weird… I thought this would be words that look like what they are. Like the word shark kind of looks like a shark, bed looks like a bed. Besides, everyone knows the best word is kerfuffle

  21. Cacophony! That’s my favorite word.

  22. I’ve been looking for something like this. I’m a university student taking a course in linguistics, and our project is to make a language. I realized that too many words don’t sound at all like what they should convey! Specifically emotional or impactful words. This is easy to say, but does anyone know of a field of study that deals with this? The psychoacoustics of speech patterns and their effects? It would be so cool to make a language be more intuitive through the phonetics itself.

  23. Tink, clink, moan and snap

  24. kerfuffle and likety-split are two favorites of mine!

  25. How about “troglodyte”?

  26. Good one.

  27. delete

  28. Sassy!

  29. Light bulb – love the way Steve Carell’s Dru said it in Despicable Me. Perfect.

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