beau·​ti·​ful ˈbyü-ti-fəl How to pronounce beautiful (audio)
: having qualities of beauty : exciting aesthetic pleasure
: generally pleasing : excellent
beautifulness noun

Did you know?

Can beautiful be used to describe a man?

Our evidence shows that when beautiful is used to describe physical beauty, it is overwhelming used of women or a physical aspect of a woman (such as her hair or skin). This hasn't always been the case: when beautiful first came into English it was used as easily of men as it was of women. Nowadays, handsome is the adjective of appreciation most commonly used of men.

The plural noun phrase beautiful people doesn't refer to the overall looks of the people mentioned, but rather the elegance and sumptuousness of their lives.

Choose the Right Synonym for beautiful

beautiful, lovely, handsome, pretty, comely, fair mean exciting sensuous or aesthetic pleasure.

beautiful applies to whatever excites the keenest of pleasure to the senses and stirs emotion through the senses.

beautiful mountain scenery

lovely is close to beautiful but applies to a narrower range of emotional excitation in suggesting the graceful, delicate, or exquisite.

a lovely melody

handsome suggests aesthetic pleasure due to proportion, symmetry, or elegance.

a handsome Georgian mansion

pretty often applies to superficial or insubstantial attractiveness.

a painter of conventionally pretty scenes

comely is like handsome in suggesting what is coolly approved rather than emotionally responded to.

the comely grace of a dancer

fair suggests beauty because of purity, flawlessness, or freshness.

fair of face

Example Sentences

Located on one of the most beautiful and untouched coastlines in America, this recreational area has much to offer. You can hike on rocky headlands that rise dramatically from the Pacific Ocean, ride horses or bikes along scenic trails, walk along the many beaches, kayak on pristine Tomales Bay, or spy the abundance of native flowers and wildlife, including elephant seals and tule elk. Tim Fish, Wine Spectator, 15 Nov. 2008
In her biography of Monroe, Churchwell takes to task the relentless mythomania of her admirers and critics, who are equally invested in nurturing the legend of a hapless beautiful woman consumed by her desire for celebrity and love. Lakshmi Chaudhry, Nation, 27 Aug.-3 Sept. 2007
In the hothouse of today's celebrity monoculture, the result has been the perfection of the kind of profile in which athletes and actors struggle to overcome … absence or presence in their lives of money, fame, sex and drugs. Especially so in the upscale slicks, where these stories of the rich and beautiful emerge so flat and lifeless that no one in them casts a shadow. Jeff MacGregor, New York Times Book Review, 21 Aug. 2005
You have the most beautiful smile. The film tells a beautiful story about two young lovers. Our hotel room had a beautiful view of the ocean. The sunsets here are absolutely beautiful. What a beautiful day for a picnic! This is a beautiful example of early American poetry. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Interior, Comfort, and Cargo The Lexus LC500 interior is a special place, with a great driving position, rich materials, beautiful craftsmanship, excellent front seats, and loads of technology. Drew Dorian, Car and Driver, 18 May 2023 Visitors are welcome to step inside and soak up the unique atmosphere of this historic church, with its beautiful altar and serene surroundings. Gabi De La Rosa, Chron, 17 May 2023 Matapeake Clubhouse and Beach Located on Kent Island in the Chesapeake Bay is a public swimming beach marked by a beautiful colonial-style clubhouse used for weddings and community functions. Karen Ruffini, Travel + Leisure, 17 May 2023 Don’t spend these beautiful spring days hunched over a bathtub, tirelessly scrubbing away at soap scum and mildew. Clara Mcmahon, Peoplemag, 17 May 2023 That company was a beautiful artistic success, a financial failure, but-- This is Rethink Robotics. IEEE Spectrum, 17 May 2023 Rosemary, lavender, sage, and other bumper crops look beautiful on your bar and in everyone's glasses. Hadley Mendelsohn, House Beautiful, 17 May 2023 Producing beautiful and long-lasting furniture teaches us about caring for the land, autonomy and self-sustainability. Javier E. Piñero, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 May 2023 Pick out a beautiful, bright bouquet, and ship it to their address, so the flowers are delivered fresh. Elizabeth Berry, Woman's Day Magazine, 17 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'beautiful.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English bewteful, beautefull, from beaute beauty + -ful, -full -ful entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of beautiful was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near beautiful

Cite this Entry

“Beautiful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


beau·​ti·​ful ˈbyüt-i-fəl How to pronounce beautiful (audio)
: having the qualities of beauty
: very good : excellent
beautifully adverb
beautifulness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on beautiful

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