Lyuba
Can I use the word 'beautiful' to describe a man? At I was taught that I can't but recently I hear it from TV.
Dec 8, 2016 3:50 PM
Answers · 12
Well, no one can tell you what to do or what to say :) It's simply that "handsome" and "beautiful" have rather different implications when you talk about men. "Handsome" is definitely more conventional. "Beautiful" implies a more feminine kind of beauty, or model-quality looks in an actor. I would say it's fine to call the young Leonardo DiCaprio beautiful, or today i.e. Kit Harington (the guy who plays Jon Snow in Game of Thrones), but not the Bruce Willis type. This is a matter of personal opinion, of course. I see that you are Russian. Our schools like to play it safe and simple. So they just tell you you can't use "beautiful" as a direct translations of "красивый". They are technically right because the conventional translation of красивый человек/мужчина would be "a handsome or good-looking man". However, it's not a mistake to say "beautiful" - it just means something else. Don't know if you have read Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray", but that novel uses the word "beautiful" many times to describe Dorian's features as well as e.g. his voice and eyes. Of course Dorian is an exceptionally good-looking character, but Wilde's use of "beautiful" shows how this word can have implications about morality (beautiful = kind and pure, "he was very earnest and had a beautiful nature"). Of course the novel is more complicated than that, just bear in mind that "beautiful" can theoretically have implications about character if you use it this way.
December 8, 2016
Yes, it can, but 'beautiful' has quite an emotive quality to it. While a (straight) man might acknowledge that another adult male is 'good-looking', he would not use 'beautiful'. Meanwhile, a love-struck woman who has just seen a man she considers to be physically the most perfect human being who has ever lived, she might describe him as 'beautiful'. 'Good-looking' can be an objective judgement, but 'beautiful' rarely is. Also, while the world is full of attractive men, there are very few could be considered beautiful. 'Beautiful' suggests perfection, and (sometimes) feminine qualities. One man who was often described as beautiful was the actor Paul Newman, especially when he was younger. Google image a colour picture of him and you'll know what I mean - dazzling blue eyes, perfect bone structure, combination of broad jaw and sensitive mouth. Such things are subjective, obviously, and vary according to culture and changing fashions, but if you want an idea of a 'beautiful' man, then he's a fairly good example. And a decent human being, too.
December 8, 2016
Beautiful is a very good word for describing a very good-looking man. And it doesn't mean feminine in this case. You can find a lot of videos with pictures of beautiful men and a lot of pictures of beautiful men on different websites. Those men don't look like women. On the contrary they are well-built, muscular and very attractive. Handsome is not a male equivalent of the word beautiful. Handsome man means just a physically attractive man. Beautiful means exciting sensuous or aesthetic pleasure. Talking about a beautiful human being we mean that this person is very attractive, very pleasant to look at. A beautiful man is a very handsome man, extremely handsome man, breathtakingly attractive man. Pretty is used to describe a feminine kind of beauty. Beautiful can describe not only feminine beauty. We use beautiful when speaking about a sunset or a waterfall. Are they feminine? Of course not. Beautiful also can be used to describe masculine beauty. A man can be as beautiful as a sunset or a waterfall. And this word is stronger than pretty or handsome.
February 13, 2020
You can find a lot of videos on YouTube with pictures of beautiful men and a lot of pictures of beautiful men on different websites. Those men don't look like women. On the contrary they are well-built, muscular and very attractive. Handsome is not a male equivalent of the word beautiful. Handsome man means just a physically attractive man. Beautiful means exciting sensuous or aesthetic pleasure. Talking about a beautiful human being we mean that this person is very attractive, very pleasant to look at. Nowadays people use the word beautiful to describe every physically attractive woman. So a beautiful woman is as attractive as a handsome man. But beautiful man is a very handsome man, extremely handsome man, breathtakingly attractive man. So a beautiful man is more attractive than a beautiful woman. Beautiful man is equal to a breathtakingly beautiful woman. Pretty is used to describe a feminine kind of beauty. Beautiful can describe both feminine and masculine beauty. And it's stronger than pretty or handsome. No reliable dictionary says that beautiful can describe only feminine beauty. Some of them say that it's usually used for women, rarely for men. It's because there are a lot of beautiful women in this world. But unfortunately their beauty is often artificial. Women use cosmetics and other things to look very attractive. Man's beauty is natural, but it requires a lot of efforts. Beautiful man is a man with well-defined muscles, abbs, a good hair style and a very nice face. So if a man really wants to look beautiful, to have a beautiful body, he needs to work out in the gym regularly and keep on a diet. Many people don't use this adjective to describe a man because they are afraid of being misunderstood. So a better adjective to describe masculine beauty is gorgeous. Women use this word very often to describe an extremely attractive man. I even heard two times a heterosexual man saying to another man that he looked gorgeous. He was a native speaker.
January 26, 2020
Thank you) Now I understand. I agree it sounds odd.
December 8, 2016
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Lyuba
Language Skills
English, Finnish, Russian
Learning Language
English, Finnish