Sunday, 16 September 2007

It’s delicious, it’s delightful, it’s de….

…lovely (marvellous Cole Porter lyrics here). I was once told that I use this word far too often (by an acquaintance who, like many Cambridge dons, is an over-educated fathead), but I was unrepentant. I could have replied that it is not in the least hackneyed but is one of those indispensable words we have in English, like nice, which can be used to express approval of almost anything (people, the weather, an underdone rib of Aberdeen Angus beef with gravy made from mushrooms and port, and so on) but actually I told him to go and boil his head. It’s a lovely word.

I recalled this rebuke the other day when I found I had used this word in a posted comment addressing a dear friend whom I shall never meet. Was it appropriate here? I looked it up in an (American online) thesaurus, which gives:
admirable, adorable, agreeable, alluring, amiable, attractive, beauteous, bewitching, captivating, charming, comely, dainty, delectable, delicate, delicious, delightful, dishy, drop-dead gorgeous, enchanting, engaging, enjoyable, exquisite, fair, foxy, good-looking, graceful, gratifying, handsome, knockout, lovesome, mink, nice, picture, pleasant, pleasing, pretty, pulchritudinous, rare, scrumptious, splendid, stunning, sweet, whistle bait, winning.

Apart from the inappropriate foxy, the mystifying mink, the vulgar dishy, whistle bait and drop-dead gorgeous, and the yucky lovesome (God wot), any of these probably express my meaning correctly. My internet friend can decide which apply, and anyway she hasn’t complained.

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