A small blemish

bmo

Senior Member
Taiwan
Do you think "a small blemish" should be replaced by "a blemish" since blemish implies a small defect?

Thanks.
 
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    "A small blemish" is very idiomatic.
    While some may think "blemish" has a connotation of being small or slight, the dictionary definition of blemish is just a "flaw" or "defect."
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    "A small blemish" sounds a little odd, to my ear. It's not impossible, but I think it's a bit off. I think bmo is right that there is some redundancy. Maybe the dictionary doesn't indicate the size of a blemish, but "blemish" usually connotes something of lesser (smaller) importance. (Contrast, for example, a permanent hideous scar. Blemishes on the face are usually associated with transitory acne.) Therefore to speak of a small blemish is slightly redundant. Would one speak of a large or life-changing blemish? I don't think I would ever hear either "small" or "large" modifying the word "blemish." Well maybe -- but rarely, if ever.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    Google
    "small blemish" - 33,800 hits
    "large blemish" + "big blemish" + "sizable blemish" + "significant blemish" + "noticeable blemish" = 5,910

    It's at least idiomatic.
     

    bmo

    Senior Member
    Taiwan
    Thanks. I just googled:

    1. "A small blemish on the face" --- 65 hits.
    2. "A blemish on the face" ----2,200 hits. (Probably includes large and small blemishes.)

    Oxford is the only dictionary that defines it is a small defect:

    noun 1 a small flaw which spoils the appearance of something. 2 a moral defect.
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Do you think "a small blemish" should be replaced by "a blemish" since blemish implies a small defect?

    Thanks.
    Usually a spot that's a large blemish passes over into "humungous zit" territory.

    But I agree it's very idiomatic to say "small blemish" or "tiny blemish." It's mainly spoken this way so the owner of such spots don't give it power to grow any larger, and thus become the dreaded zit.

    It's mind control at its best, using the power of words.


    AngelEyes
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    If you don't want your significant other, female, person to scream and throw things at you, you should always precede blemish with small, or better still not discuss her blemishes at all. However, a wooden leg or a glass eye could not realistically be described as small blemishes.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    Google hits (for the sake of completeness):
    "small blemish on the face": 87 hits
    "large blemish on the face" or "big blemish on the face": 13 hits

    Easy enough computation: 87% vs. 13% of sample.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    The question on the table is: does "blemish" imply a small flaw or imperfection?
    Actually, no, that wasn't BMO's initial question. His first post assumed that a blemish is small. The point I made in my first post is that the majority of dictionaries do not specify a blemish as being large or small (as you did in your first post).

    Your Google hits cited "small blemish" as more common than "large blemish" which confirms that "small blemish" is more idiomatic than "large blemish". My Google hits confirm that "blemish" is far more common than either "small blemish" or "large blemish".
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    Actually, no, that wasn't BMO's initial question. His first post assumed that a blemish is small. The point I made in my first post is that the majority of dictionaries do not specify a blemish as being large or small (as you did in your first post).

    Your Google hits cited "small blemish" as more common than "large blemish" which confirms that "small blemish" is more idiomatic than "large blemish". My Google hits confirm that "blemish" is far more common than either "small blemish" or "large blemish".
    I wonder if it makes a difference whether the use of "blemish on the face" is figurative or literal.

    I also wonder how many Google hits refer to Bible verses.
     

    nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    Usually a spot that's a large blemish passes over into "humungous zit" territory.

    But I agree it's very idiomatic to say "small blemish" or "tiny blemish." It's mainly spoken this way so the owner of such spots don't give it power to grow any larger, and thus become the dreaded zit.

    It's mind control at its best, using the power of words.


    AngelEyes
    This must be a female thing, the first thing that comes to my mind when I see "blemish" is the kind that grows on your face :D

    I suppose a "small blemish" would be referred to as "pimple" or "small spot", or even "blackhead" "whitehead", while the big one is called "zit".

    A "blemish" alone doesn't seem to imply the size, at least not to me.
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    This must be a female thing, the first thing that comes to my mind when I see "blemish" is the kind that grows on your face :D

    I suppose a "small blemish" would be referred to as "pimple" or "small spot", or even "blackhead" "whitehead", while the big one is called "zit".

    A "blemish" alone doesn't seem to imply the size, at least not to me.
    Hmm, I wouldn't call the big one a "zit," I'd call it a "screamer."
     

    XTTX

    New Member
    US & English
    "blemish on the face": 5,680
    You can't use "blemish on the face" because you are searching for the literal string "blemish on the face". Anything can proceed that though, for example, the words "small", "large" or even something out there like "uber"
     
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