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 And don't forget to browse the accessories, which include offers on chic loafers and beautiful handbags. Alexis Bennett, Vogue, 28 Nov. 2022 To me, California is a beautiful land of contradiction. Ryan Fonsecastaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 28 Nov. 2022 Lucille is photographed looking beautiful as the mother of the bride. Janaya Wecker, Country Living, 28 Nov. 2022 This piano ballad is a feat in sincerity that is only made possible via Raveena’s convincingly euphoric high notes and bone-chillingly beautiful falsetto. Natalie Maher, Harper's BAZAAR, 28 Nov. 2022 What a beautiful, sad funeral, including a great quiet moment between John and a grieving Monica (Kelsey Asbille). William Earl, Variety, 27 Nov. 2022 The same red canyon walls that form part of the beautiful setting for Supai also interfere with broadcast services. Debra Utacia Krol, The Arizona Republic, 27 Nov. 2022 Samsung's Bespoke 30-Cubic-Foot Three-Door French Door Smart Refrigerator is a beautiful appliance that's packed with features. Chicago Tribune, 27 Nov. 2022 The album art features a beautiful photograph of your father. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, 27 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'beautiful.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 Dec. 2022.

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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