beautiful


beautiful
beautiful adj Beautiful, lovely, handsome, pretty, bonny, comely, fair, beauteous, pulchritudinous, good-looking are comparable when they express judgment of a person or a thing perceived or contemplated with sensuous or aesthetic pleasure. Although they differ widely not only in their implications and connotations but also in their range of reference, they carry in common the meaning very pleasing or delightful to look at. Of all these adjectives beautiful is usually the richest in significance; since the abstraction it represents (the beautiful) has been for many centuries the subject of discussion by philosophers, artists, and aestheticians, its content in a particular context often depends upon the speaker's or writer's cultural background, his chosen philosophy, or his own peculiar definition. In general, however, both in learned and in ordinary use beautiful is applied to what excites the keenest pleasure not only of the senses but also through the medium of the senses of mind and soul. It also suggests an approach to or a realization of perfection, often specifically the imagined perfection associated with one's conception of an ideal. That is why beautiful is applicable not only to things that are directly perceived by the senses
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a beautiful woman

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a beautiful scene

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the beautiful "Winged Victory"

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an exquisitely beautiful painting

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but to things that are actually mental constructions formed in the mind through the instrumentality of language or as a result of inferences from certain outward manifestations
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a beautiful poem

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a beautiful plan

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a beautiful character

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Lovely, like beautiful, usually suggests a more than sensuous pleasure, but it implies keen emotional delight rather than profound intellectual or spiritual pleasure. It is applied therefore to what is so pleasant to look upon, to hear, to smell, or to touch that the person affected dwells delightedly, sensuously, or amorously upon it or the sensations it produces
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why ever wast thou lovely in my eyes?— Shak.

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in after years... thy mind shall be a mansion for all lovely forms— Wordsworth

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a sailing ship—that loveliest of human creations— Ellis

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Handsome, on the other hand, carries little connotation of emotional or spiritual pleasure; it implies rather a judgment of approval occasioned by something that is pleasant to look upon because it conforms to one's conception of what is perfect in form and detail or in perfect taste, and pleasing because of its due proportions, symmetry, or elegance. It is applied chiefly to what can be regarded unemotionally and with detachment; thus, a woman who is described as handsome rather than as beautiful or lovely is by implication one whose appearance aesthetically satisfies the observer but does not markedly stir his deeper feelings
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a handsome dress

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a handsome house

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a handsome table

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"They say I'm handsome. " "You're lovely, Bella!" She drank in his homage— Meredith

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Pretty, in contrast to handsome, is applied largely to what pleases by its delicacy, grace, or charm rather than by its perfection or elegance of form or style. It is seldom used to describe something large or impressive; consequently it often connotes diminutiveness, daintiness, or exquisiteness
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a group of pretty girls

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a very pretty child

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a pretty cottage

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Pretty is often used depreciatively to suggest mere pleasingness of appearance and the absence of qualities that make for beauty, grandeur, or strength
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a pretty poem

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a pretty view

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Bonny, which is more common in British and especially Scottish use, implies approbation of a person's or thing's looks but it may also imply various pleasing qualities (as sweetness, simplicity, healthiness, plumpness)
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a bonny day

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a great actress and a bonny girl— Donn Byrne

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a bonny baby

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what the sentimental women of the neighborhood called a "bonny man. " His features were remarkably regular, and his complexion was remarkably fair—G. D. Brown

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Comely implies an opposition to what is homely and plain and suggests pleasant wholesomeness with a measure of good looks or physical attractiveness
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a comely barmaid

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the comeliest woman in the club

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Jack was so comely, so pleasant, so jolly— Dibdin

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once a moorland Helen, and still comely as a blood horse and healthy as the hill wind— Stevenson

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Fair applies especially to something which gives delight because of the purity, the flawlessness, or the freshness of its beauty
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fair as a star, when only one is shining in the sky— Wordsworth

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forever wilt thou love, and she be fairKeats

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Beauteous and pulchritudinous are used especially in ironic or journalistic prose where they often carry a suggestion of derogation or imply an emphasis on mere physical attractiveness
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beauteous candidates for the title of "Miss America"

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a beauteous platinum blonde

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pulchritudinous chorus girls

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Beauteous in poetical and dignified use often carries a stronger implication of opulence of charms than beautiful
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how beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in't!— Shak.

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Good-looking is a less expressive word than handsome or pretty but is often used as a close synonym
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the children of that family are all good-looking

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Analogous words: *splendid, resplendent, glorious, sublime, superb: exquisite, elegant, *choice
Antonyms: ugly
Contrasted words: repulsive, repugnant, revolting, *offensive

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

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