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.

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