Definitions

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

  • adj. Having qualities that delight the senses, especially the sense of sight.
  • adj. Excellent; wonderful.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Attractive and possessing charm.
  • adj. pleasant; clear.
  • adj. well executed
  • adj. How beautiful that is!
  • adj. How unfortunate that is!

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

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

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

Etymologies

(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"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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

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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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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  • And behold there was a very stately palace before him, the name of which was Beautiful.
    John Bunyan (1628-1688), Pilgrim's Progress

    September 19, 2009

  • skipvia-
    I LOVE the word evanescent. ( from 100 most beautiful words)

    June 20, 2009

  • Ha! I forgot about git.... He called us something before he took that post down. What was it? Wordiots...? The unwashed masses? Ah, that's right, booboisie!

    June 19, 2009

  • The self-styled Dr Goofball was, apparently, so chagrined by Wordizens' robust defense of our beloved site that he removed the offending installment from his blog without explanation or apology. But documentation of the events has been faithfully preserved on the git word-page.

    June 19, 2009

  • Doctor Goodbeard trashed Wordie? When was this? I must have been aestivating.

    June 19, 2009

  • Actually, I didn't even finish reading the list, so for all I know it's a decent one--and I probably have some of these words listed on my many Wordie lists. I'm just holding a mock-grudge from the time when Dr. Gooddude trashed John/Wordies.

    I'm sure that helps you understand my comment. ;-)

    June 18, 2009

  • No, Asat, it's fine. Everyone's entitled to their opinion. That's what the list itself is, after all. My annoyance with it stems (apparently) mostly from the title.

    Now that you mention it, it reminds me of the brouhaha after the American Film Institute listed the 100 most influential films (or some such), and everyone got upset that such-and-such wasn't there, or how-could-they-have-picked-this-one. Charges were leveled that AFI only did it to enhance its own image (which is true) and promote films (which is also true, and effective) and provoke conversation (which worked). Now they have a slew of lists, and nobody really shouts about them anymore. At the time, I thought the critics were unreasonably critical of AFI, given its goals, and yet here I am reacting like an assmarmot to Dr. Gooddude's list, when after all, all he's doing is promoting words and language and conversations about them. :) Thanks for the perspective.

    June 18, 2009

  • Hm. OK. I guess I was getting all preachy. Oh well.

    June 18, 2009

  • Not to get all preachy, but some of these very witty comments make me sad. Are Wordies getting a tad snobbish about words? Can't say I agree with the list, but then, I'm not necessarily moved by moist or chagrined by schadenfreude or bedazzled by bird names either...

    June 18, 2009

  • This list makes me all Christina Aguilera–like and I want to sing a sweet song for all those words that get neglected, scorned, and abused, like moist and ughten and pedagogy.
    Oh yes, you're beautiful, no matter what they say… and Goofwad can't bring you down…

    June 18, 2009

  • It must be the seeing-them-all-together aspect that really turns me off. Also the presumption that this one person (poet notwithstanding) can say what the 100 most beautiful words in English are... a presumption that is totally antithetical to the spirit of Wordie (where everyone gets to have their 100, or 1000, or 2,349 most beautiful words). Which also turns me off. It could have been called, after all, something like "Dr. Gooddude's Most Beautiful English Words" or some such.

    Also, yarb's puke-inducing is possibly more erudite as well (as more accurate) than my oft-used barf-making. *thinks about a new list*

    At any rate, it's a conversation-inducing list, and for that I applaud... er... it.

    June 18, 2009

  • I like the term "Hallmark words," yarb. Sounds like a good list, and certainly bracketworthy.

    Hey--so is bracketworthy.

    June 18, 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

  • 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

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

    June 17, 2009

  • He forgot this one: Eew.

    June 17, 2009

  • What a load of hooey.

    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 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

  • Watt?

    Doctor bloodie Goodword again.

    June 17, 2009

  • Tintinnabulation??

    June 17, 2009

  • 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