Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The quality that gives pleasure to the mind or senses and is associated with such properties as harmony of form or color, excellence of artistry, truthfulness, and originality.
  • n. One that is beautiful, especially a beautiful woman.
  • n. A quality or feature that is most effective, gratifying, or telling: The beauty of the venture is that we stand to lose nothing.
  • n. An outstanding or conspicuous example: "Hammett's gun went off. The shot was a beauty, just slightly behind the eyes” ( Lillian Hellman).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The property, quality or state of being "that which pleases merely by being perceived" (Aquinas); that which is attractive, pleasing, fine or good looking; comeliness.
  • n. Someone who is beautiful.
  • n. Something that is particularly good or pleasing.
  • n. An excellent or egregious example of something.
  • n. The excellence, e.g. the genius
  • n. A beauty quark (now called bottom quark).
  • n. Beauty treatment; cosmetology.
  • interj. Thanks! Cool!
  • adv. Of high quality, well done.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An assemblage of graces or properties pleasing to the eye, the ear, the intellect, the æsthetic faculty, or the moral sense.
  • n. A particular grace, feature, ornament, or excellence; anything beautiful.
  • n. A beautiful person, esp. a beautiful woman.
  • n. Prevailing style or taste; rage; fashion.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To render beautiful; adorn, beautify, or embellish.
  • n. That quality of an object by virtue of which the contemplation of it directly excites pleasurable emotions.
  • n. A particular grace or charm; an embellishment or ornament.
  • n. Any particular thing which is beautiful and pleasing; a part which surpasses in pleasing qualities that with which it is united: generally in the plural: as, the beauties of an author; the beauties of nature.
  • n. A beautiful person; specifically, a beautiful woman; collectively, beautiful women: as, all the beauty of the place was present.
  • n. Prevailing style or taste; rage; fashion.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an outstanding example of its kind
  • n. a very attractive or seductive looking woman
  • n. the qualities that give pleasure to the senses

Etymologies

Middle English beaute, from Old French biaute, from Vulgar Latin *bellitās, from Latin bellus, pretty; see deu-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Anglo-Norman and Old French beauté (early Old French spelling biauté), from Vulgar Latin *bellitās (“beauty”), from Latin bellus ("beautiful, fair"); see beau. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In _Othello_, "if virtue lack no delighted beauty," i.e. "_want not the light of beauty_, your son-in-law shows far more fair than black."

    Notes and Queries, Number 43, August 24, 1850

  • Europeans, and it is certainly grand and interesting and in a certain sense beautiful, but not the calm, sweet, warm beauty of our own fields, and there is none of the brightness of our own flowers; a field of buttercups, a hill of gorse or of heather, a bank of foxgloves and a hedge of wild roses and purple vetches surpass in _beauty_ anything I have ever seen in the tropics.

    Alfred Russel Wallace: Letters and Reminiscences, Vol. 1

  • To the Greek, in fact, beauty and good had the same meaning -- _beauty was good_, and the good must be beautiful.

    A History of Art for Beginners and Students Painting, Sculpture, Architecture

  • It was listening to this music, at times so pathetic and sweet, that emotion would often lend almost supernatural beauty to his countenance, so that even Mr. Stendhall, the least enthusiastic of men, was wont to say with enthusiasm, _that never, in his whole life, had he seen any thing so beautiful and expressive as Lord Byron's look, or so sublime as his style of beauty_.

    Lord Byron jugé par les témoins de sa vie. English

  • ─but the hail has other reasons than serving and the wet eastern wind of evening does not dream of standing watch by my disenchanged lion sobs: no longer will I run after every passage of beauty,─beauty is defeated, never again at attention will I snuff out that fire now glimmering like an old tree trunk in which hollow swallows make nonsensical nests, child's lay, unreckoning misery, unreckoning misery of sympthy.

    Amelia Rosselli

  • In his case, the term 'beauty of the ragas' acquires a special meaning as he has to his credit the distinction of having created many new ragas.

    Jim Luce: Indian Legend Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and Sons Perform in NYC

  • In the movie, "we are taught and told that beauty is one thing, but when beauty comes from the inside, you are even more beautiful outside," Common says.

    Rapper Common gets 'Wright' with his dreams

  • In English the term beauty goes back to the French beauté, which in turn is derived from a conjectured vulgar Latin bellitatem, formed after the adjective bellus, which neither originally nor properly desig - nated something beautiful; pulcher and formosus had this function.

    Dictionary of the History of Ideas

  • But the skin beauty is not the firmest hold she has on Temple's affections; this was not the beauty that had attracted her lover and held him enchained in her service for seven years of waiting and suspense; this was not the only light leading him through dark days of doubt, almost of despair, constant, unwavering in his troth to her.

    Letters from Dorothy Osborne to Sir William Temple (1652-54)

  • "But let us understand," said Mrs. Evelyn, with the air of a person solving a problem; "I suppose we are to infer that your taste in beauty is of a peculiar kind?"

    Queechy

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Comments

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  • Beauty contains buy and eat. A sort-of Kangaroo word: BeaUtY - bEAuTy. See an animated version here.

    February 17, 2011

  • For Simone Weil, "The beautiful is the experimental proof that the incarnation is possible."

    March 23, 2010

  • The beauty industry would be happy with most of these definitions since the issue of inner beauty, heart and soul is pretty much neglected in favor of external looks. Little mention here of artifice, cosmetics or make-up.

    December 19, 2009

  • Beauty has no duty.
    (And that, says Uncle Faraway, is the beauty of it, and why all heroes are ugly.)--Jan Cox

    January 9, 2008