Definitions

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

  • adj. Full of love; loving.
  • adj. Inspiring love or affection.
  • adj. Having beauty that appeals to the emotions as well as to the eye. See Synonyms at beautiful.
  • adj. Enjoyable; delightful.
  • n. A beautiful person, especially a woman.
  • n. A lovely object.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Inspiring actual love
  • adj. Evoking love-like, happy emotions by aesthetic or similar endearing qualities.
  • adj. Very nice, wonderful in a general sense.
  • adj. Loving, filled with love
  • n. An attractive, lovely person, especially a (professional) beauty.
  • n. A lovely object
  • adj. Worthy to be praised.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Having such an appearance as excites, or is fitted to excite, love; beautiful; charming; very pleasing in form, looks, tone, or manner.
  • adj. Lovable; amiable; having qualities of any kind which excite, or are fitted to excite, love or friendship.
  • adj. Loving; tender.
  • adj. Very pleasing; -- applied loosely to almost anything which is not grand or merely pretty
  • adv. In a manner to please, or to excite love.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Fitted to excite love or emotion; possessing or characterized by engaging qualities; lovable; attractive; charming: as, a lovely woman; a lovely view; a lovely dress.
  • Attractive to appetite or desire; enticing; inviting.
  • Loving; tender.
  • Synonyms Amiable, Lovely (see quotation from Archbishop Trench under amiable); Handsome, Pretty, etc. (see beautiful); pleasing, charming, fair.
  • So as to induce or excite love; very beautifully or pleasantly.
  • Lovingly; kindly.
  • Worthy to be praised.

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

  • adj. lovable especially in a childlike or naive way
  • n. a very pretty girl who works as a photographer's model
  • adj. appealing to the emotions as well as the eye

Etymologies

From Middle English lovely, luvelich, lufli, from Old English luflīc ("amiable, loving, lovable"), equivalent to love +‎ -ly. (Wiktionary)
From Middle English lovely, loflik, from Old English loflīc ("fit to be praised, laudable"), equivalent to lofe +‎ -ly. Cognate with Dutch loffelijk ("laudable, praiseworthy"), German löblich ("commendable, laudable, praiseworthy"), Swedish lovlig ("permissible"). More at lofe, love. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • To hear that lovely voice, for I do her justice, and there are lovely notes in her voice, _lovely_, to hear that voice shrieking and screaming away, in what she called the great scene, was simply pitiful.

    Queen Lucia

  • "How lovely -- how _lovely_ you are!" he exclaimed, almost under his breath.

    Robin

  • "Ah! mammy," she exclaimed more than once, "what a lovely, _lovely_ home! how happy we might be here!"

    Holidays at Roselands

  • Betty finally hit the jackpot with a lovely (or should I say $lovely$) man and she fucking blew it away!

    Bryanboy.com

  • "Oh, what a lovely, _lovely_ house!" cried Sprite, "and what a dear place to live in.

    Princess Polly's Gay Winter

  • And your mouth -- so sweet and sad -- but, what a lovely, _lovely_ smile! "

    Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise, Volume I

  • We're always tempted to use the phrase "lovely in lavender," and Mila Kunis might have been just that at Sunday night's Oscars.

    Mila Kunis At The 2011 Oscars: Hit Or Miss? (PHOTOS, POLL)

  • They used the word lovely to describe everything from fried rice to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.

    Heaven Lake

  • He said he was attending a football game between his university and Ohio University, and he mistakenly followed what he called a lovely group of women into an all-female dormitory.

    CNN Transcript Oct 15, 2008

  • That's what I call a lovely dessert, tailor made for Valentine day!

    As pure as your love...

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Comments

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  • Nailed it! frindley:)

    February 10, 2011

  • i like it^^

    August 6, 2009

  • "Love-ly,
    All I am is lovely.
    Lovely is the one thing I can do.

    Winsome,
    What I am is winsome,
    Radiant as in some
    Dream come true.

    Oh, isn't it a shame?
    I can neither sew
    Nor cook
    Nor read or write my name.
    But I'm happy
    Merely being lovely,
    For it's one thing I can give to you."

    lyric from Stephen Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

    April 19, 2008