Talk:Cellar door

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Great phrase yes? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 05:49, 7 August 2005

Yes, IMO :) --Missmarple 09:08, 7 August 2005 (UTC)

This is the most obscure thing I've written on Wikipedia, and the thing I'm most satisfied with. :-) – Pladask 09:20, August 7, 2005 (UTC)

What has Monty Phyton got to do with 'cellar door'? And why does this article link to the 'inherently funny word' article? --Missmarple 10:26, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

Because the Monty Python sketch involves inherently soothing and irritating words, and because that and an article on inherently funny words are generally seen to be related to an article on inherently beautiful words. Gzuckier 15:59, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

I don't agree that it's a good reason to put them in the 'cellar door' article. Maybe in an article about English language, or the 'funny words' article... but it really does not have anything to do with the phrase 'cellar door'! I don't believe that anyone searching for information about 'cellar door' will be interested in Monty Phyton... --Missmarple 20:26, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

Personally, I think that "cellar door", while it may be cute and perhaps should be kept as a redirect, is a pretty bad title for this article. I personally spent a while looking for the subject matter before getting to it here only because it was linked from the inherently funny word article and I clicked on cellar door out of curiosity. Gzuckier 21:25, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

Wow. Wikipedia is pretty great. I'm very impressed that this article even exists. --Hermitage 08:11, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

Great article, well done all concerned! --Lox (t,c) 21:49, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

Being the initiator and as of now probably the main single contributor, I thank you; be it irony or not. ;-) — Pladask 13:37, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

Hello! I've used this name on the net for a few years now =) Celardore 18:19, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

Think it's worth mentioning that the phrase appears in the Poison song Talk Dirty to Me?: "Down the basement/ lock the cellar door/ and baby/ talk dirty to me"! (talk) 00:08, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

In Popular Culture. --Sigmundur (talk) 14:54, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

Glad to find this article. Neil Young invokes the phrase in The Needle And The Damage Done: "I caught you knocking at my cellar door / I love you baby can I have some more?" Perhaps a new "Popular Culture References" section for inclusion of this and similar allusions? Kpedsea (talk) 13:00, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

Donnie Darko[edit]

What about the 'cellar door'-reference in Donnie Darko?

The article refers to Drew Barrymore telling Donnie Darko, but one is named as a real person, the other by the character, it should be the characters names and if required with the Actor's name in brackets beside it.

Celador is the actual word, which means a ward or guard. (talk) 05:52, 31 October 2010 (UTC)D. Arnold

The refrence of Cellar Door in the movie Donnie Darko was used by Donnie's english teacher. The two words were written on the board and he asked what it meant. She replied, "A famous linguist once said that of all the phrases in the English language, of all the endless combinations of words in all of history, that cellar door is the most beautiful" (This linguist was really J.R.R. Tolkien). Later on in the movie, this phrase coincidently became a clue to unlocking Donnie's destiny. 21:58, 16 February 2007 (UTC)Tyler Walsh, NL Also,(forgot to meantion this before) if you'd watched the extended version of this scene, Cellar Door in Ms. Pomeroy's eyes was the most beautiful thing in the world you build you life around. This thing could be anything, including a person, place, anything really.GLiTch 19:42, 17 February 2007 (UTC)Tyler Walsh, NL

Prior references[edit]

Surprise... there are indeed prior notices of the phrase 'cellar door' being an especially beautiful or musical phrase. One of them turns out to be Mencken:

Poetry is two distinct things, and may be either or both. One is a series of words that are intrinsically musical, in clang-tint and rhythm, as the words cellar-door and sarcoma are musical. The other is a series of ideas, false in themselves, that offer a means of emotional and imaginative escape from the harsh realities of everyday.

Prejudices: third series - Page 151 (The Poet and His Art, the very first paragraph) by H. L. (Henry Louis) Mencken - 1922

Some other authors have also noticed this, but they might be following Mencken, who seems to have the earliest reference. (The Mencken reference and these are all found via 'Google in Book')

Poets of America - Page 311 by Clement Wood, Edmund Clarence Stedman - 1925 - 392 pages An Italian once picked "cellar door" as the most beautiful combination of words in English. It is only needful to recall the music wedded to meaning of ... Snippet view - About this book

The World, the Arts and the Artist - Page 49 by Irwin Edman - 1928 "Cellar door," remarked a foreigner who had no knowledge of the meaning of English words, "is the most beautiful word I have heard in the English language. ... Snippet view - About this book

Potable Gold: some notes on poetry and this age - Page 33 by Babette Deutsch - 1929 - 96 pages Dissociated from its significance, "cellar door" forms three cool clear liquid syllables such as might ... Snippet view - About this book
—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 20:36, 24 January 2007 (UTC).

I think Tolkien may well have been referring back to Walter de la Mare, whose lecture "Verbal Craftsmanship" (delivered on March 23, 1932) included a story 'of an Italian professor who composed some doggerel in English in which he exulted over the beauty of the phrase "O cellar door!" ' (this summary is quoted from the English Association Bulletin, p. 42 of a volume frustratingly unnumbered by Google Books). (talk) 15:39, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

Excessive Cultural References[edit]

I think that the Stephen King reference of the cover photo of a cellar door is not related in any way to the phonetic beauty of the words. If we let that in, then every cellar door anywhere should be added (please no!) TheCharlie 16:40, 16 February 2007 (UTC)


"Cellar Door is the name of a stunning new Jazz and Cabaret Venue under London's Strand next to the Lyceum Theatre. The venue is truly unique and has proven hugely popular as one of the most intimate bars in the Capital.("

This sounds more like an advertisement than actual information.

^ In response to the above, I made a suggested alteration. Feel free to revert. Burnley219 15:14, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

Just wondering, where would I add in the fact that "C'est l'adore"(French - "It is love") sounds the same as cellar door? --Jazqas (talk) 13:33, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

Surely you're right! Phonetics, all well and good, but there is the inescapable irony between the English and French languages to consider, that C'est l'adore/cellar door has such a beautiful meaning to a French speaker and an equally prosaic meaning to an English speaker. Also reminds me of the hilarious 'four candles/fork handles' sketch by The Two Ronnies.

Seriously? "C'est l'adore" is nonsense French. "It is love" is "C'est l'amour". On the other hand, how can so many humans have discussed this utterly preposterous claptrap without noting the phonetic resemblance between "cellar door" and Italian "stella d'oro" (star of gold)?Sebum-n-soda (talk) 17:47, 2 August 2013 (UTC)

There is also an approximation to a Spanish or Portuguese interpretation as 'Golden seal' or a 'Seal of pain', both quite romantic and poetic sounding. Phantlers (talk), 24 May 2009

As an addendum, the French for 'It is love' would be 'C'est l'amor'. The literal meaning in Portuguese of the phonetically identical 'selador' is a person or thing that seals, an agent noun. Its most common usage would be in the instance of a 'sealant' as used by, say, engineers or perhaps builders or plumbers. Phantlers (talk) 02:36, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

Point of articulation[edit]

Hi, does anyone know about research on how the point of articulation influences the feeling of sounds? Cellar door is only made of alveolar consonants; my favourite example of alveolar consonants is New Zealand Story which contains all the alveolar phonemes in the English language. --Kjoonlee 16:46, 31 May 2007 (UTC)


Surely all those references need to be linked to this use of "cellar door". Otherwise it is original research. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Beardo (talkcontribs) 14:49, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 03:50, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

Misattributions piece[edit]

It doesn't make sense for it to start with 'Nonetheless' or does it? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:00, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

hm, yes, this is a leftover from unclean refactoring, I think dating to a time when the article wasn't sure whether to credit Tolkien. Please fix it. dab (𒁳) 19:10, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

Received pronounciation is here out of context[edit]

The RP is out of context here because RP is non-rhotic, meaning that the sound "r" is not pronounced. But of course, the reason why Tolkien found the phrase "cellar door" beautiful is because it contains three liquid consonants, including the two rhotic sounds. So the pronounciation for this particular phrase should include both "r". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:09, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

Well, at most one rhotic sound, if it suggested him the name Selador... Goochelaar (talk) 23:40, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

the question is not if the r is present phonemically, but how it is pronounced (in Tolkien's mind) phonetically. There is no way you can get RP [ˈsɛləˌdɔ:] without the phonemic presence of rhotic consonants: [ɔ:] is unambiguously /or/. I suppose this is a rather deep question. To the non-British ear, [ɔ:] is just a long o. To the British (RP) ear, I imagine (if you indulge me, I am not proposing to insert this point into the article like that), the beauty of [ɔ:] may precisely lie in the secret, discreet presence of the liquid consonant. dab (𒁳) 11:39, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

Not true. The word 'cellar-door' contains no instances of the /r/ phoneme. If it's followed by a word beginning with a vowel, an epenthetic phonetic [r] is automatically inserted, but there's no reason to posit this in the word itself, at any level. The phoneme /ɔ:/ is spelt in numerous ways: tall, launch, jaw, pour, poor, oar, ore, taught, sort, possibly others too. The reason Tolkien wrote Selador is no doubt that that is the closest Sindarin equivalent - *Selado would not get the vowel right, whereas Selador with a rolled [r] would be anglicized as his own pronunciation [ˈselədɔ:] (for the Sindarin country-name, versus two-stressed [ˈseləˌdɔ:] for the English word); and *Seladaw, while looking right for the English, would give a very different Elvish sound. One qualification needs to be made: it is possible Tolkien's speech was old-fashioned enough to consistently distinguish, say, law and from lore and by only inserting epenthetic [r] in the latter, i.e. where historically an /r/ had once existed. If so, and if this was a natural part of his speech, then an underlying /r/ is justifiable. However, I doubt whether this distinction was a natural one for many people even in his own day. – unsigned comment by near-RP speaker and linguist (talk) 12:31, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

Actual cellar door[edit]

its more than a phrase. there are actual things called cellar doors, why does this article not talk about an actual cellar door, like a bilco door? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:11, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

Discussion mentioned in article[edit]

Is this supposed to ever happen?!?!?!?! --Ysangkok (talk) 21:38, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

etymology of the words "cellar door"[edit]

There is no need to have the line saying that "basement" is the American English for "cellar." "Cellar" is used just as frequently and is understood exactly the same in American English as it is in any other dialect. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:20, 18 March 2012 (UTC)

obviously i'm a fan of the movie Donnie Darko, and my two favorite parts are when his teacher makes that qoute and when he makes the connection and figures it all out. now, the other day i was thumbing through the dictionary, looking up random words of inerest , a wierd habit of mine. and i decided to look up the words "cellar" and "door". any ways the first thing that it shows is the history of the word, its derivatives, and former used words with the same meaning. the word "cellar" had this listed: celler<celier<cellarium<cella< and a reference to the word cell which was only a couple of words up the page and it had this:celle<cella<hall<hull<hajla<"hell". now the word "door" had this listed: dure<dor<duru(orig. pair of doors)<dor akin to tur<tor<gate(base dhwer)<dhwor<thyra(double door)<fores<foris<"gates". inevitably i put the two togther and strangly enough i got this hell and gates. and in my mind i was thinking the "gates of hell" or "hell's gates". i just thought that this was interesting, so when i saw this page and its discussion i figured i would make a user name and post what i had found. i don't know if anybody else finds this relevant i just thought it was neat.Darko 031888 (talk) 09:12, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

I would not recommend adding this material to the article. See WP:OR.--Hq3473 (talk) 14:15, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

Denis Norden section[edit]

Does 'celador' with a small C mean something? I'm referring to this part: 'He replies "cellar door", stating that a teacher at his school told him this and he adopted it as his — later realizing the teacher said "celador".' The only word spelled that way in English, that I can find, is a proper noun; I find it unlikely his teacher knew of the production company Celador (if it even existed then). Thus it seems like saying "I thought he said 'fiscal', but it turned out he said 'physkal'" (where "physkal" of course is a non-word). (talk) 03:12, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

Well, as Norden was born in 1922, he would have been told this by a teacher some time in 1930s, when the production company surely didn't exist yet. As 'celador' of course means 'guard' (or perhaps more correctly 'watchman') in Spanish, it's conceivable that the word could have been used as an occasional loanword also in (British) English back then, and even a rare usage of such a word of foreign origin could have warranted inclusion to some dictionary, therefore making 'celador' once an English word. But other sources beside that Metro interview would be nice. Interestingly Norden mentions another Spanish word 'mariposa', which means 'butterfly', as a favourite non-English word.
As this wiki article explains the notion among many English-speakers that 'cellar door' were the most beautiful word of their language, or even an inherently beautiful word, it would be good to have comparable views from other languages. Such as: has it ever been claimed that 'celador', or its feminine form 'celadora', were among the most beautiful words in Spanish language, at least to those who don't know the language and thus won't associate meanings to the sounds? (talk) 18:37, 10 July 2012 (UTC)

Red herring?[edit]

Celador is also the Spanish for "guard". Sir George Mackenzie's 1665 tract "On Solitude" addresses the reader:

My dear Celador, enter into your own breast, and there survey the several operations of your own soul, the progress of your passions, the strugglings of your appetite, the wanderings of your fancy, and ye will find, I assure you, more variety in that one piece than there is to be learned in all the courts of Christendom.

Passage underlined in Herman Melville's copy of Isaac Disraeli's Curiosities of Literature Which is probably a complete red herring as regards "cellar door". Now if it was Edgar Allen Poe's copy.... jnestorius(talk) 21:32, 27 February 2010 (UTC)

Inappropriate image[edit]

The photograph of an actual cellar door, which clearly represents meaning rather than sound, is inappropriate to illustrate an article cocerning phonoaesthetics, which does not concern meaning. The photograph should be removed, and possibly replaced by a beautifully-pronounced audio recording of the phrase. David Spector (talk) 00:01, 12 June 2010 (UTC)

Disagreed. Although the article is not strictly about the portal to a basement, the sound is specifically the result of reading these two words in English. Since this article is not about the random sound "Selador", but about two words which make that sound, it stands to reason that a picture of their namesake represent it. (talk) 19:08, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
I agree with David (as can be seen in my edit summary). The article is not about any physical object; it’s not about the door to a cellar. Photographs don’t likely belong in articles about words-as-words. — (talk) 15:23, 6 September 2014 (UTC)

The why the phrase is beautiful section.[edit]

Several issues, who is "my" opinion? This entire section is purely subjective. I think a discussion of the aesthetic appeal of the word is a good idea, but it should be framed differently. Gmlawton (talk) 03:59, 21 July 2012 (UTC)


delete this subjective shit

its proven s,d,g,n sound ugly

what is pronounced at most is most beautiful

thus mayday, may lay, may tay r beautioful (talk) 17:07, 9 January 2013 (UTC)anonymous85.26.183.243 (talk) 17:07, 9 January 2013 (UTC)

If you can provide sources for this contrary subjective view, then please do. Because we have sources backing up the claim that this phrase is beautiful. — (talk) 15:26, 6 September 2014 (UTC)


'A passage from J. R. R. Tolkien's 1955 essay "English and Welsh" has been cited as the origin of the idea:'

Cited where? GeneCallahan (talk) 22:41, 4 August 2015 (UTC)


Several of the alternative spellings appearing in this section (Sileduur, Cellador, Salladhor, Selidor, Celador, Cellador) have no citations to any reliable sources linking them with the phrase cellar door. How do we know that these names have anything at all to do with cellar door? —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 09:26, 23 January 2017 (UTC)

Update: I've removed these examples.[1]Sangdeboeuf (talk) 01:13, 20 February 2017 (UTC)


The article says, "C. S. Lewis wrote in 1967..." The year can't be correct; Lewis died in 1963. The quote in question does indeed appear in the collection "Letters to Children". I don't remember if that collection includes the dates of the individual letters. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:51, 23 March 2017 (UTC)

Fixed. Date corrected to 1963, with sources. —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 00:09, 25 March 2017 (UTC)