The definitions I am using from the 1959 Webster’s New World Dictionary come from a blog I subscribe to by CS Perryess. On should give credit where credit is due. He loves words and old dictionaries. These definitions are great for writers because writers need to be specific; the right word for the right reason.
I will compare words from the 1959 Webster’s New World Dictionary that Perryess cited to my 2000 American Heritage Dictionary.
Beautiful: 59 Webster says, “applied to that which gives the highest degree of pleasure to the senses or to the mind and suggests to the object of delight one’s conception of an ideal.” My 2000 Heritage says, “having beauty.” I think Webster wins here, though the Heritage definition of ‘beauty’ closely resembles the 59 Webster definition of ‘beautiful,’, but not with the succinct clarity of Webster.
Lovely: 59 Webster says, “applies to that which delights by inspiring affection or warm admiration.” My 2000 Heritage says, “Having pleasing or attractive qualities; beautiful.” Once again Webster has a more beautiful definition.
I pause here to say that I have the American Heritage Dictionary because-and I forget who-recommended this dictionary for writers. I am having second thoughts.
Moving on to . . .
Pretty: “implies a dainty, delicate or graceful quality in that which pleases and carries connotations of femininity or diminutiveness.” My 2000 heritage says, “Delightfully pretty or dainty.” Webster now up 3-0.
Comely: “applies to persons only and suggests a wholesome attractiveness of form and features rather than a high degree of beauty.” My Heritage says, “Pleasing in appearance; attractive.” I must say here is where Heritage, to be blunt, really sucks. Their definition is generic, non-specific, lacking any ‘definition’ in the definition. It is is blah. 4-0.
Fair: “suggests beauty that is fresh, bright or flawless and, when applied to persons, is used especially of complexion and features.” My Heritage says, “beautiful; lovely.” Really? That’s it. That’s all you’ve got? Webster’s 5-0.
Yuck to American Heritage. I looked up ‘yuck’ in my Heritage Dictionary. It says, ” Used to express rejection or strong disgust.” Well they got one right.
What I find in the 59 Webster’s is clarity in language, a defined definition. What I find in my 200 Heritage is blandness, unimaginative language, lack of clarity.
I used my Heritage from time to time on my e-novels on Amazon.
But I will be buying a new dictionary today.