Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sometimes “beautiful” is the just right word

When Prince William saw his bride at the altar, he told her that she was “beautiful”, which indeed she was. Because writers are always advised to avoid overworked words like “beautiful”, I began idly thinking about what he might have said instead. Ravishing? Too much of a sexual connotation, not appropriate in this instance. Gorgeous? Too effusive. Stunning? Yes, but that doesn’t necessarily imply beauty as well. Ditto for “resplendent”.

One of the challenges in writing description is to select the perfect word, so connotation and context are critical (not just important). Among the synonyms for “beautiful” are the following: comely, alluring, bewitching, cute, dazzling, divine, exquisite, foxy, magnificent, pretty, radiant, pulchritudinous - well, you see where I’m going with this. Can you envision William using any of those in this situation?

“Beautiful” has a quiet dignity and well-established pedigree, making it sometimes the most appropriate adjective. The dictionary states, “A person or thing that is beautiful has perfection of form, color, etc., or noble and spiritual qualities.” Exactly!


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Gabriele Wills's books on Goodreads
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