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About adjectives 'spectacular' and 'breathtaking' are synonyms. They both mean wonderful and marvellous. But I don't know when I should use them. The adjective 'wonderful' can be used to describe anything, maybe because it is informal: wonderful day, wonderful party, wonderful trip, wonderful holiday... I can also say 'a wonderful person'. What about 'spectacular' and 'breathtaking'? When should I use them? Are they used only to describe nature (scenery, views, sights...)? Thank you in advance!
Jan 8, 2012 6:48 PM
Answers · 11
The word breathtaking is based off of the idea that the sight or experience of something was so amazing or powerful that you were so in awe you forgot to breathe - it literally took your breath away or made you gasp in amazement. It's similar in that way to the word 'speechless'. Of course, the word can be used if you weren't actually breathless. It doesn't have to be used literally, but that is the idea the word is built off of. Thus, it makes sense to describe incredible views of nature and is commonly used that way, but it can be used in other situations that leave one with a sense of wonder or amazement. Brett gave a very good example illustrating the actual neutrality of the word. While 'breathtaking' is typically used to describe good experiences is really more about describing the intensity of it. Spectacular adds 'dazzle' to the description of something. I don't mean 'dazzle' or 'sparkle' literally, but spectacular kind of sounds like those words and subtly brings those ideas and feelings to mind when building a mental picture. It's a lot like 'wonderful' but with a touch of 'flair'. I would consider it's use to be less intense than 'breathtaking' Wonderful as you said is a synonym to all these and is almost interchangeable. However, since is is used far more generally and more often it is the less intense of all of the three words. The view from the mountain was wonderful. (the most general. It sounds nice, but doesn't bring much to mind) The view from the mountain was spectacular. (A really beautiful view - perhaps the light was dancing off trees- this sentence just feels like it has a little more life to it) The view from the mountain was breathtaking. (Doesn't bring as much to mind like 'spectacular' did, but it must have been an incredible view for the person. They might have stood there admiring it for longer and perhaps even felt closer to nature and beauty itself) Each of these sentences conveys a slightly more intense experience than the one before. They are all by definition quite similar, but I hope this illuminates their use the feelings behind them for you!
January 8, 2012
One good way of working out differences between synonyms is to look up the etymology. You'll find the original usages and origins of the words will give you clues that a modern definition omits. The other thing is to search the word (or phrases) in online articles and blogs, to get an idea of how the word is used in practice.
January 8, 2012
This is a difficult question to answer. There are very many words in English which have similar meanings; with these adjectives it is often a matter of personal choice. Language has fashions like everything else. What sounds good (cool?) now will sound out of date in ten years; what sounds good to a young person sounds pretentious to an older person... You could say 'a spectacular meal,' for instance but not a 'breathtaking meal.' Breathtaking can also be used in a negative way: 'his arrogance was breathtaking.' meaning he was so arrogant it was difficult to believe.
January 8, 2012
Both words are adj, and because it is English they can also be used as nouns, and adverbs (often times more) - though it would take some imagination to use them as nouns. The spectacular food vs the food is/was spectacularly cooked (he/she is/was spectacular/breathtaking) and 'the breathtaking thought of x' and 'the breathtaking tension' vs 'breathtakingly painted' and 'Breathtaking could be used to describe this painting.' : ) Use them when ever you want to describe anything you feel amazed by; however, breathtaking is a word used commonly in generally extra-ordinary situations that have affected the loquitur deeply if used other then this, the utterance may be considered sarcastic. Nick
January 11, 2012
Where are you learning these words in English.I just started to learn Englishi .thereforeI need help with every aspect please help me
January 8, 2012
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Arabic, English, French
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English, French