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  1. #1
    Snowcake's Avatar
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    a beautiful woman but a handsome man

    I am reading a book about words that can be confused with each other. Today I came accross a chapter which was rather confusing than clarifying.

    It's about the different ways to say how you like something. In the strictest sense, how to use beautiful, handsome, lovely etc.

    The gist of what the book says is:

    use beautiful to describe a woman and handsome to describe a man.

    Is that really so? Is it uncommon or odd to say 'a beautiful man / boy' or 'a handsome woman /girl'?

    I'm curious to read your opinions.

    Thanks.
    Snowcake

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    Anglika is offline No Longer With Us
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    Re: a beautiful woman but a handsome man


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    Re: a beautiful woman but a handsome man

    A man with striking conventional good looks is described as handsome
    Similarly, a woman is described as beautiful. If she doesn't quite make the 'beautiful' mark, she would be described as 'pretty' (hübsch)
    A young female chlld would be described as 'pretty' only. If she had a lovely nature and was pretty, then she might be described as 'a beautiful child'

    A man would take it as an insult to be described as 'beautiful'. It would be akin to insinuating he was effeminate.

    However, a woman whose looks are striking and imposing rather than conventionally 'girly' good looks might be described as 'handsome'. Perhaps the mature Lauren Bacall would be so described.

    A female might describe either a man or a woman as 'a beautiful person', referring to their nature (ie warm, generous - most of the good qualities)

    Colloquially, few people would use the word 'handsome' for a man - men these days are described as just 'good looking'
    Last edited by David L.; 03-Apr-2008 at 03:43.

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    Re: a beautiful woman but a handsome man

    What about cute and pretty?

    I've heard some Americans say something like this:

    She is pretty (it means she is beautiful, awesome, maybe gourgeous)
    She is cute.
    He is pretty and cute ()

    Do everyone speak like that?

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    Re: a beautiful woman but a handsome man

    Thank you for replying so quickly. I didn't know that this question has already been discussed.

    However, it was a pleasure and really amusing to read David's response.

    David, it seems to be similiar to German. Don't say that a man is cute or sweet, as you have written they would take it as an insult, like being effeminate.
    The same goes for women. It's not that kind of compliment women are pleased about.
    You can use such words to describe a child or a younger person.

    So, I think I got your point.

    That's good to know. It helps to avoid some embarrasing situations.

    Snowcake
    Last edited by Snowcake; 03-Apr-2008 at 04:14.

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    Offroad's Avatar
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    Re: a beautiful woman but a handsome man

    Quote Originally Posted by Snowcake View Post
    Don't say that a man is cute or sweet, as you have written they would take it as an insult, like being effeminate.
    The same goes for women. It's not that kind of compliment women are pleased about.
    You can use such words to describe a child or a younger person.
    I don't know, snowcake, I am sure I heard this from an American on a TV serie. I am not sure about the man, but the actor said something like this about a woman, a teenager:

    She is so cute, even being a minor, I could not control myself.

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    Re: a beautiful woman but a handsome man

    Yes, marciobarbalho, I've also heard and read "she's cute".

    I think the point is how the person understands it.
    As to me, being described as cute or sweet is not really something that flatters me. You can say a child or a cat is cute, but don't say it to a woman, (please).

    As you've written, the woman/girl in the film was a teenager.

    Regards
    Snowcake

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    Re: a beautiful woman but a handsome man

    Quote Originally Posted by Snowcake View Post
    I think the point is how the person understands it.
    As to me, being described as cute or sweet is not really something that flatters me. You can say a child or a cat is cute, but don't say it to a woman, (please).
    Oh yeah, sounds odd to me as well, however, let's see what a native speaker has to say about this "embaracing situation". Please, teachers.

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    Anglika is offline No Longer With Us
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    Re: a beautiful woman but a handsome man

    "embarrassing" or "embracing"?

    Cute is generally used to described an overall impression of someone, including behaviour and demeanour, unlike "beautiful" or "handsome" or "pretty", which generally mean physical appearance.

    People can be very cute and yet not particularly pretty or good-looking.

  10. #10
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    Re: a beautiful woman but a handsome man

    Thank you, Anglika. This shows the crucial differences between languages and how to use them correctly. I guess marciobarbalho refered to my posting above. "embarrasing situations".


    Regards,
    Snowcake

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