- Sweet in sound; pleasurable or comforting to listen to
- Pleasing due to sweetness or mildness
It's said the pen is mightier than the sword, but a dulcet voice might beat them both. A singer with a soft, beautifully sweet tone can enthrall an audience, enveloping listeners in soothing sheets of harmonious music. If you've ever been to an intimate performance or recital and been transfixed by a honeyed voice or the soft chords of an acoustic guitar, you know full well the potency of a dulcet sound.
Dulcet is an adjective which describes something as deeply and purely pleasurable. Specifically, it refers to things which are enjoyable by dint of being sweet, soft, or melodious; a dulcet sensation is gratifying because it is soothing and easily accessible, lulling the observer into a sense of bliss. Dulcet is almost always used to refer to sounds, making it the perfect choice to describe the lovely flow of a babbling brook or the notes of a skillfully played pan-flute. Don't let that convention restrict you, though - any object that is sweet and smooth can be dulcet, from the love you feel for your fiancé to the filling of a well-made éclair.
Example: At the pet store, Jimmy found himself hypnotized by the
Example: Few sensations compare to the dulcet warmth of freshly laundered bedsheets.
Much like the word itself, the origin story of dulcet is short and sweet. One of its earliest ancestors is thought to be the Latin dulcis, an adjective that means "sweet and sugary." This would develop into the Old French doux and, from that, doucet, both of which described something as "soft and sweet." Dulcet is first recorded in English in the late 1300s.
Dulcetness: This noun refers to the quality of sweetness or melodiousness.
Example: Wanting to fill his home with the dulcetness he was hearing, Jimmy decided to buy the songbird.
Dulcetly: This adverb form of dulcet characterizes an action as producing a honeyed, pleasurable sound or impression.
Example: The owner of the pet store smiled dulcetly as Jimmy handed him his credit card.
From J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:
"Hello, Harry" said George, beaming at him. "We thought we heard your dulcet tones."
"You don't want to bottle up your anger like that, Harry, let it all out," said Fred, also beaming. "There might be a couple of people fifty miles away who didn't hear you."
In this passage, dulcet sardonically refers to Harry's loud complaints, which are anything but harmonious and soothing. This is a great example of how, in modern conversation, dulcet is frequently used sarcastically.
From James Joyce's Ulysses:
An exquisite dulcet epithalame of most mollificative suadency for juveniles amatory whom the odoriferous flambeaus of the paranymphs have escorted to the quadrupedal proscenium of connubial communion.
Honestly, your guess is as good as ours with this one.
- Dulcet is sweet, like dulce de leche
- Let dulcet lullabies lull you to sleep
Bring out the linguist in you! What is your own interpretation of dulcet. Did you use dulcet in a game? Provide an example sentence or a literary quote.