In the 1970's, Duke University's Psychology Department compiled this data after long-term experiments in Neuro-linguistic programming. These words have been proven to evoke emotion in a listener or reader. The words are, in no particular order:

  1. You
  2. Money
  3. Save
  4. New
  5. Easy
  6. Love
  7. Discovery
  8. Results
  9. Health
  10. Proven
  11. Guarantee
  12. Free

The theory runs along the lines of weaving as many of the words into your vocabulary as often as possible. Apparently, this was not lost on the major advertising agencies across the world, as we notice all 12 words appearing in all types of media. It has also been pointed out to me that you can build a great spam filter using exactly the same words.

NB This node was originally titled The Twelve Most Powerful Words in the English Language I've no idea why it was changed.

And here are the other twelve most powerful words in the English language 

  1. Darling
  2. I'm
  3. nearly
  4. four
  5. weeks
  6. late
  7. think
  8. we
  9. might
  10. be
  11. pregnant

These words have been proven to evoke strong emotion in a listener.


I'm not, by the way. 
Just in case you were wondering.
Those are definitely the most powerful meanings, rendered in English - but those same concepts probably mean just as much to people in a different language. The meanings have power in the mind, but the words don't necessarily have power within in the language.

For strength within the language, I would have picked (in no particular order):

  • a
  • the
  • be
  • is
  • to
  • set
  • it
  • but
  • of
  • for
  • and
  • as

For more details on the difference, see neurolinguistic programming, specifically, the difference between deep structure and surface structure.

Well, when James Joyce was asked what the most beautiful word in the English language was, he answered that it was "yes".

  1. it (the concept of a particular entity (or characteristic); the beginning of thought)
  2. to be (existence; there is no question more important about 'it' than whether "it is")
  3. to have (expresses the idea that entities possess characteristics; allows you to say "it has it")
  4. to do (actions taken by existents; allows you to say "it does it")
  5. not (negation; allows you to say "it is not" "it has not it" "it does not it")
  6. if (counterfactuals; projection into future; imagination; allows you to say "if it has it, it does it")
  7. and (combining elements; allows you to say "if it has it and if it does it, it is it")
  8. I (establishing self as a special instance of 'it')
  9. he/she (the concept of a sentient entity aside from 'I' (another special instance of 'it'; there really should be single word for he/she))
  10. believe (the 'it' contained in the mind of a sentient (and not necessarily in the real world); allows you to say "I believe it does it, and he believes it has it, and it is not" (i.e., we're both wrong))
  11. but (thought and speech facilitator; like 'and' but indicates that a different type of thought follows; allows you to say "I believe it does it, and he believes it has it, but it is not")
  12. or (thought and speech facilitator; allows you to express 'if w, z. if x, z. if y, z' as 'if w, x, or y, z')

These are the basic concepts. Almost every other word in English is a further qualification of 'it'.

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