05/28/2015 08:47 am ET | Updated May 28, 2015

13 Unusual Words, Beautifully Illustrated

Nick Sherman/Flickr

Mellifluous -- a pleasant-sounding word used to describe pleasant sounds -- is a keen example of the wondrous, labyrinthine nature of language. In an illustration he made of the word for a series of language posters, illustrator Mick Watson depicted a yellow music note floating towards each corner of the page. With mellifluous and the handful of other linguistic gems he's visually translated, his spare designs bring the mood of each word to life.

"I'm fascinated with the idea of signs and symbols provoking a subliminal response in the viewer," he told The Huffington Post. "Some people are visual learners so anything that isn't just words on a page is helpful. I'm a designer so I'm always looking for ways of making things beautiful and easy to understand. My goal is just to provide a visual hook so the meaning can rest on it and hopefully help the word linger in the mind of the viewer."

Watson underwent the project in response to his 9-year-old daughter's budding interest in language -- although she's been experimenting with incorporating long words into her lexicon, she's sometimes "fuzzy on their meanings," Watson says. Her favorite so far is effulgent -- which means shining brightly. Watson's partial to scintilla -- a tiny trace or spark of a specified quality or feeling -- which is precisely what he aims to create with his work.

  • Apostasy
    Abandonment of one's religious faith, political party, principles or cause
  • Apricity
    The warmth of the sun in winter
  • Atramentous
    Similar to or as black as ink
  • Cispontine
    On this side of the bridge
  • Contrarian
    A person who takes an opposing view, especially one who rejects the majority opinion
  • Deasil
    In the direction of the sun's apparent course, considered as lucky; clockwise
  • Effulgent
    Shining brightly; radiant
  • Funambulist
    A tightrope walker
  • Heliotropism
    The growth of organisms in response to light where sunlight is the stimulus
  • Lalochezia
    The use of vulgar or foul language to relieve stress or pain
  • Melliflous
    (Of a sound) pleasingly smooth and musical to hear
  • Obfuscatory
    Deliberately making something obscure or difficult to understand
  • Scintilla
    A tiny trace or spark of a specified quality or feeling


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