Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Having a pleasant and fluid sound.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Flowing or dropping like honey; hence, sweetly or smoothly flowing, especially in sound.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Flowing as with honey; smooth; flowing sweetly or smoothly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Flowing like honey.
  • adjective Sweet and smooth; generally used of a person's voice, tone or writing style.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective pleasing to the ear

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Late Latin mellifluus : Latin mel, mell-, honey; see melit- in Indo-European roots + Latin -fluus, flowing; see bhleu- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin mellifluus ("flowing like honey"), from mel ("honey") + fluō ("flow"). Compare superfluous and fluid, from same root, and with dulcet ("sweet speech"), alternative Latinate term with similar meaning.

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Examples

  • Then again, he did use the word "mellifluous" just for flare -- maybe saying, "amen" is just some literary device we don't understand yet ...

    More on Sarah Palin, Moose Hunting, and Other Stuff

  • I was pleased to see the word "mellifluous" in today's post, especially as your use of it was so apt.

    Public Servitude: Making the Streets Safe for Absurdity

  • Then there were words which were beautiful to hear, which had a rich sound -- words like "mellifluous" and "brocade" and "Cleopatra."

    Missy

  • Smokey Robinson coined the term "quiet storm" to describe a certain kind of mellifluous R&B back in the mid-70s, and the four-times-platinum Diamond Life, which won the BRIT Award for Best Album in 1985, and its attendant four singles, helped give that gently turbulent music a wide, even international audience.

    BBC - Ouch

  • Smokey Robinson coined the term "quiet storm" to describe a certain kind of mellifluous R&B back in the mid-70s, and the four-times-platinum Diamond Life, which won the BRIT Award for Best Album in 1985, and its attendant four singles, helped give that gently turbulent music a wide, even international audience.

    BBC - Ouch

  • Senator John McCain, who has not known as a mellifluous orator, is already playing the political game of lowering expectations for his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis next month – particularly since Senator Barack Obama will deliver his speech before the Democrats at the Denver Broncos’ football stadium.

    McCain on His Convention Speech - The Caucus Blog - NYTimes.com

  • Marian Evans with her long, weird, dreamy face; Lewes, with his big brow and keen thoughtful eyes; Browning, pale and spruce, his eye like a skipper's cocked-up at the weather; Peacock, with his round, mellifluous speech of the old Greeks; David Gray, great-eyed and beautiful, like Shelley’s ghost; Lord Houghton, with his warm worldly smile and easy-fitting enthusiasm.

    The Idler Magazine, Vol III. May 1893 An Illustrated Monthly

  • Seek ye then, fair daughters, the possession of that inward grace, whose essence shall permeate and vitalize the affections, adorn the countenance, make mellifluous the voice, and impart a hallowed beauty even to your motions.

    Searchlights on Health: Light on Dark Corners A Complete Sexual Science and a Guide to Purity and Physical Manhood, Advice To Maiden, Wife, And Mother, Love, Courtship, And Marriage

  • The leader of the LDK, the forever silk scarfed and mellifluous Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, compared himself openly and blushlessly to Vaclav Havel and the Kosovar struggle to the Velvet Revolution.

    Terrorists and Freedom Fighters

  • The voice on the Route-8 bus pronounces the names of each bus stop in perfect, mellifluous native Hawaiian: "Kuhio and Lili'uokalani," the recording says as the bus approaches a stop on the way to Waikiki Beach.

    How to Pronounce Lili'uokalani? Ask Marvin Nogelmeier

Comments

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  • Wonderful etymology: "flowing with honey." The word can be used in that literal sense, but the "metaphorical" sense (e.g. to describe someone's voice or movement) just works really nicely.

    January 14, 2007

  • mellifluous is such a great sounding word! ;-)

    March 26, 2007

  • Doesn't it just flow! Great word

    April 19, 2007

  • smooth, sweet, feminine.

    describing a language?

    of greek origin(?)

    December 19, 2007

  • Honey doesn't flow much and creamed honey doesn't flow at all.

    December 19, 2007

  • This was a favorite of the greatest orator I ever had the honor to learn from, Richard Sodikow, Speech & Debate Coach, The Bronx HS of Science. When he said it, he demonstrated just how well it flowed like honey past his lips.

    March 2, 2008

  • See also grandiloquent/grandiloquence.

    Mellifluous grandiloquence is something else altogether!

    March 16, 2008

  • Mellifluous means pleasing to the ear

    April 28, 2008

  • I am not as mellifluous as Sir John Betjeman.

    - Peter Reading, Opinions of the Press, from Fiction, 1979

    June 26, 2008

  • honey should be included in the definition.

    this is an amazing word, almost an onomatopoeia.

    July 22, 2008

  • Is there a visual equivalent to this word? I'd love to know it.

    September 24, 2008

  • Eye candy?

    September 24, 2008

  • Photogenic?

    September 24, 2008

  • Similar in pattern of derivation? Probably not. Similar in meaning, yes, but finding a word that means only "pleasing to the eye" and hasn't been broadened to include other senses (in both senses) is tough.

    How about beauteous or picturesque?

    September 24, 2008

  • Similar in pattern, yes, I think is what I meant to imply by my question... I love the beauty of mellifluous and "picturesque" just doesn't compare. Perhaps I'm still on a hunt.

    September 25, 2008

  • mellifluous- i first became familiar with this word while reading june jordan. she used it eloquently, with great image and soul. she described a biblical land overflowing with milk and honey. the word is certainly a graceful and refreshing throwback to a chimerical land laced with sweet leche y miel.

    November 22, 2008

  • I always imagine the visual image of the word mellifluous to be a soft brown/chocolate wavy line, flowing genltly and quietly in/on a cream colored space.

    Mellifluous is a mellifluous word.

    December 3, 2008

  • It is indeed.

    I always start singing the truffula song from The Lorax. However the hell you spell truffula...

    December 3, 2008

  • (smellifluous: Pleasing to the nose?)

    January 17, 2009

  • I found a reference to mellifluous in regard to the flow of the written word at Frog Princeps it is a blog:

    "The book rewards the reader with a mellifluous flow of language that will startle, intrigue and bewitch the reader."

    November 14, 2009

  • This word doesn't work. It never has. It's too ... too what? Too sweet? Too obvious? Too forced? Too tongue-tying? And the imagery it evokes is sticky, slow, and viscous-- sort of the opposite of what it wants to do.

    November 14, 2009

  • I imagine this word to be undulating and waving gently, streaked a strange combination of light blue and light brown, surrounded by miniscule green and yellow squares.

    November 20, 2009

  • In the parlance of our times, synaesthetic much?

    (Actually I find that description every bit as nauseating as the word, so... nice one!)

    November 20, 2009

  • (too) often used in Carnatic music album notes....

    November 22, 2011

  • Mellifluous is an example of a word the fantasy of which has overtaken the reality. One imagines honeycomb as it is taken from the hive, dripping with the clear lightly coloured fluid and all the Marie Antoinette stuff, but she ain't going to recover refined honey, still less go out there with her protective suit and visor to harvest the comb from the hive. The fantasy is of a land overflowing with milk and honey, the reality is that these benefits have to be won by the labour of the beekeeper and the milkmaid. Little wonder that mellifluous is generally associated with the quality of the sound of music or of words, spoken or sung.

    December 7, 2011

  • hi everyone im new here!!:))

    ],

    xxx stripper,

    xxx strippers,

    April 10, 2012

  • I had this word yesterday on my Word Of The Day app on my Nook Color.

    June 5, 2012

  • Used on the Radio 4 to describe the speeches of Martin Luther King

    April 4, 2018