Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Having qualities that delight or appeal to the senses and often the mind.
  • adjective Excellent; wonderful.
  • interjection Used to express approval or delight.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Full of beauty; possessing qualities that delight the senses, especially the eye or the ear, or awaken admiration or approval in the mind. See beauty, 1.
  • Synonyms Beautiful, Beauteous, Handsome, Pretty, Fair, Lovely, Comely, charming, all apply to that which is highly pleasing, especially to the eye. Beautiful, the most general of these words, is also often the noblest and most spiritual, expressing that which gives the highest satisfaction to eye, ear, mind, or soul. Beauteous is chiefly poetic, and covers the less spiritual part of beautiful. Handsome is founded upon the notion of proportion, symmetry, as the result of cultivation or work; a handsome figure is strictly one that has been developed by attention to physical laws into the right proportions. It is less spiritual than beautiful; a handsome face is not necessarily a beautiful face. Handsome applies to larger or more important things than pretty: as, a handsome house; a pretty cottage. It is opposed to homely. Pretty applies to that which has symmetry and delicacy, a diminutive beauty, without the higher qualities of gracefulness, dignity, feeling, purpose, etc. A thing not small of its kind may be called pretty if it is of little dignity or consequence: as, a pretty dress or shade of color; but pretty is not used of men or their belongings, except in contempt. Fair starts from the notion of a brightness that catches the eye; it notes that sort of beauty which delights the eye by complexion and feature; in this sense it is now less common in prose. Lovely is a strong word for that which is immediately pleasing to the eye; it applies primarily to that which excites admiration and love. Comely applies rather to the human figure, chiefly in its proportions; it is used less commonly than handsome to express the result of care or training. See elegant.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Having the qualities which constitute beauty; pleasing to the sight or the mind.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Attractive and possessing charm.
  • adjective of the weather pleasant; clear.
  • adjective well executed
  • adjective How beautiful that is!
  • adjective How unfortunate that is!

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

  • adjective delighting the senses or exciting intellectual or emotional admiration
  • adjective (of weather) highly enjoyable

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

(1520) From beauty + -ful ("full of"). Displaced earlier sheen (from Middle English schene ("beautiful"), from Old English scīene ("beautiful")), Middle English wliti ("beautiful"), from Old English wlitiġ ("beautiful").

Examples

  • His delight in battle arises solely from the loss of a beloved wife, and sadly calculated was the end of the beautiful Mrs Macduff to make the most serious impression on a husband's mind, all the more so, perhaps, in that so fully did she merit that epithet _beautiful_ which was always attached to her name.

    The Letter-Bag of Lady Elizabeth Spencer-Stanhope — Volume 1

  • Where the adjectives and adverbs have two or more syllables, most of them are compared by the use of the adverbs _more_ and _most_, or, if the comparison be a descending one, by the use of _less_ and _least_; as, _beautiful, more beautiful, most beautiful_, and

    Practical Grammar and Composition

  • -- _More beautiful, most beautiful_, etc. can hardly be called degree forms of the adjective.

    Higher Lessons in English A work on english grammar and composition

  • He owes (owns, possesses,) a beautiful harp -- _beautiful_!

    Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Vol 58, No. 357, July 1845

  • Indoors I can't breathe -- but out of doors and at night this Paris of ours, -- ah! she is still beautiful -- _beautiful_!

    The History of David Grieve

  • She was very young, I remember now with sorrow, and very beautiful; though _beautiful_ is not so much the word to describe her as _charming_ -- magnetic, graceful, intelligent.

    The New Penelope and Other Stories and Poems

  • It may be said of many a man, as d'Annunzio says of the hero of his _Trionfo della Morte_ in relation to the woman he loved, that "he felt himself bound to her by the real qualities of her body, and not only by those which were most beautiful, but specially by _those which were least beautiful_" (the novelist italicizes these words), so that his attention was fixed upon her defects, and emphasized them, thus arousing within himself an impetuous state of desire.

    Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 4 Sexual Selection In Man

  • How beautiful, how _beautiful_ it is to be alive! "

    Soap-Bubble Stories For Children

  • Oh, you are going to get such a beautiful, _beautiful_ bird! "

    Fifty-Two Stories For Girls

  • Yes, Miss Montague, if we can only work it up it will be a beautiful case -- a _beautiful_ case, "he concluded, with singular enthusiasm.

    True Love's Reward

Comments

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  • Here's a list of the 100 most beautiful words in the English language. How do we know? The author's an actual poet, for crying out loud.

    Bucolic?

    June 17, 2009

  • Tintinnabulation??

    June 17, 2009

  • Watt?

    Doctor bloodie Goodword again.

    June 17, 2009

  • What a sad list. You just know that the doctor dresses up every weekend to play a very active role in the local Trollope re-enactment society. Then during the week there are those nightly practice sessions for the latest Gilbert & Sullivan offering.

    I doubt that anyone actually spoke the word 'umbrageous' at any point during the past century.

    Anyway, it seems to me that "felching" and "offing" are sufficiently unsavory activities to warrant exclusion from any list of beautiful words.

    June 17, 2009

  • I have doubts about the spelling of Sussurous.

    Do we feel a poetry challenge coming on, o blistering sheepsbane of the meadow?

    June 17, 2009

  • What a load of hooey.

    June 17, 2009

  • He forgot this one: Eew.

    June 17, 2009

  • Well, let's be fair. Maybe he simply mistyped "Beautiful," and it's actually supposed to be spelled "Pretentious."

    June 17, 2009

  • I mean...the list isn't *so* bad...a lot of the words are very sparkly, and most of them very clever. I would applaud any poet who was able to work any of them into his work, though they seem, as sionnach pointed out, more the province of W.S. Gilbert, or Ogden Nash, or some other comic.

    More likely probably some other Victorian, now that I think about it. But I like the Victorians.

    June 17, 2009

  • The good Doc has produced a fairly typical list of "pretty wurds". Words like dalliance, desultory, dulcet, diaphanous, emollient, all the 'L' words, ripple, redolent - these are Hallmark words, conveying the sashaying, cloying prettiness of simpering fairytale maidens. I suspect their popularity is bound up with their generally positive meanings. Which is not to deny that these aren't attractive words, used sparingly, but seeing them all together like that is puke-inducing.

    There are a couple of interesting choices: brood is good, and he's not wrong about inglenook.

    sionnach: sadly I think Goodword has fetching, rather than felching! If only! And bilby, you've misread waft as watt (in my opinion watt, with its obstinate double 't', is far, far better than the primped and pongy waft).

    June 17, 2009