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    • Join Date: Jun 2009
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    #1

    Comely

    Dear all,

    is the term "Comely" just refeared to woman or can be used anyway?

    Thank you

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Comely

    Quote Originally Posted by polpaulie View Post
    Dear all,

    is the term "Comely" just refeared to woman or can be used anyway?

    Thank you
    The word is archaic. Its most common (only ...?) use in current language is in the collocation 'comely wench' (the word 'wench' itself is archaic, preserved in collocations such as 'comely wench', 'buxom wench' and 'serving wench'). As a 'wench' is a young woman, 'comely' could be said to be reserved for women; but to say that it is suggests that it has an independent life, which it doesn't have.

    b


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    #3

    Re: Comely

    please excuse me but I cannot understand what you mean when you say that it is suggests that it has an independent life, which it doesn't has...

    Can you explain me better?

    Thank you

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Comely

    I mean that, in current English usage, it doesn't exist as a single word; it only has meaning as part of a phrase (made up of two archaic words, neither of which has an independent 'life'). There is little meaning to the word 'comely' on its own; if you ask 'what is a "comely wench"?' a possible answer is 'a sexually attractive (or at least not unattractive) young woman, perhaps not beautiful but healthy-looking, usually in a servile or somehow subordinate role, but the phrase is used only in a historic or mock-historic context'. Given that answer, it's possible to work out that when the phrase was formed "comely" meant something like "attractive", but as you can't - today - use the word on its own you can't conclude that only a woman can be comely. (I think the short answer might be, 'Don't use it'' )

    b

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    #5

    Re: Comely

    Hi Bobk,


    thanks for that post. I did not know that you don't use comely these days and I did use it in one of my writings sometime ago.



    I suspect I was under the impression of one of the historical novels I was reading.

  3. BobK's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Comely

    Quote Originally Posted by maral55 View Post
    ...

    I suspect I was under the impression influence of one of the historical novels I was reading.
    That sounds likely. There are several adjectives ending in -ly, and often related to people, that are falling out of use: comely, goodly, poorly, portly, seemly....

    (Quite a few are still going strong though: likely, lovely... )

    b

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