Beautiful — what does it mean? What is the correct spelling?

There is a bunch of truly essential words that must be known to any speaker or student of English. The adjective beautiful definitely belongs to this large group. Yet, are you completely sure, what does beautiful mean? Plus, are you able to define the correct spelling of beautiful? It is time to verify your knowledge.

Beautiful what does it mean definition examples in sentences collocations synonyms

Beautiful – what does it mean? Definition

Beautiful, pronounced as /ˈbjuː.tɪ.fəl/, derives from the Middle English term ‘bewteful’, or ‘beautefull’. The first occurrence of the adjective dates back to the 15th century. The basic definition of beautiful is ‘very attractive’ or ‘very pleasant’. Another meaning, used mostly in the US, is ‘very kind’.

Beautiful, which refers to physical beauty, is nowadays applied mostly to women. However, it used to refer to men as well; yet such usage has almost been forgotten. These days another adjective, handsome, is attributed to attractive men.

Beautiful also appears in two quite interesting idioms. The phrase the beautiful people is used in reference to fashionable, elegant and rich people. The British idiom the beautiful game is a synonym of football.

The spelling of beautiful

If you are a learner of English, you obviously know that beautiful is an absolute must-know. You may not realise, though, that beautiful is one of the 50 words most often misspelled by the students of the English language. Watch your spelling closely! To avoid incorrect spelling, remember to use ‘eau’ and bear in mind that the adjective has only one L.

The synonyms of beautiful

When you become a more advanced student of English, you should know some synonyms of beautiful that will help you to enrich your writing.

When you need an adjective to portray the physical beauty of a person, you may use the adjectives good-looking, attractive, pretty (usually for women) and handsome.

To outline a person of exceptional beauty, use the synonyms stunning or gorgeous.

Gorgeous (my, my, that is the spelling to pay attention to!), together with breathtaking, and lovely, depict beautiful scenery.

Last, but not least, exquisite — the adjective to describe delicate and beautiful objects.

The collocations of beautiful

Imagine a day when you feel exceptionally beautiful. All the word around you looks amazingly beautiful too. The weather is becoming serenely beautiful, and you find the surrounding nature breathtakingly beautiful. Look, even this normally disgusting rubbish dump seems to be eerily beautiful! When you move away from it, you can smell unbelievably beautiful fragrant. What a stunningly beautiful day! Is this love, this spectacularly beautiful feeling? Let’s find out: enjoy, and make this day perfectly beautiful!

The examples of beautiful in literature

‘Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all’.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890

‘To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man’s life’.

T. S. Eliot Wilde, The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism, 1964

‘The stars are beautiful, because of a flower that cannot be seen… The desert is beautiful,” the little prince added. And that was true. I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams… “What makes the desert beautiful,” said the little prince, “is that somewhere it hides a well…”’

Antoine de Saint Exupery, The Little Prince, 1943

Written by

Passionately in love with English — a romance initiated by reading Tolkien’s books that finally lead her too far, and now she is an English philology graduate. She loves learning, especially when it comes to languages. Interested in visual arts, history and DIY.