beloved / expensive (dear, cher)

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by ThomasK, Jul 25, 2009.

  1. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    The word cher in French means both. In any other language ?

    In Dutch, we have duur and duurbaar/ dierbaar, which are probably related (that would be too much of a coincidence).

    So any other ?
  2. FabiArgentina

    FabiArgentina Senior Member

    Argentinian Spanish
    In Spanish the word "caro" means 1-amado/ beloved
    2- Gravoso o dificultoso/ hard or difficult
    3-De precio elevado/ expensive
    And it has others meanings you can consult in
  3. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Even the meaning 'difficult'? Hard to get or something ? ;-)
  4. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    In Greek we have the adjective ακριβός, ακριβή, ακριβό-akrivos,m., akrivi,f., akrivo,n., which is used both for beloved/dearest and expensive. E.g. Ακριβό μου παιδί (akrivo mu peði, my dearest child)-Ακριβό κόστος μεταφοράς (akrivo kostos metaforas, expensive transportation cost)
  5. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    May I suppose that the 'expensive' meaning is the oldest ? [And that the a- refers to non- (a privatus, or something the like)?]

    (It is a guess based on the supposition that love 'creates' value, making the beloved worth lots of money, or... Yes, dear/ dear, I now think. In some contexts dear can mean expensive in English, can't it ?

    As a matter of fact the Dutch word duurbaar is not the same as expensive, it is more like valuable, but it is most probably based on duur, expensive.
  6. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    Ακριβός derives from the ancient word ἀκριβής which meant the strict, the precise one. Interestingly enought, in modern Greek, besides akrivos, ακριβής has survived with the ancient meaning.
    According to Liddell-Scott, ἀκριβής etymologically points to ἄκρος (=at the farthest point or end, hence either topmost, outermost, or inmost) as the first part of the word, but the suffix -ιβης remains dubious.
    Yes, I guess you're right. A more accurate/literal translation of akrivos-akrivi-akrivo in English, could be precious.
  7. HBZ55 Senior Member

    Arabic - Tunisia
    In Arabic it's Ghali.
  8. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Could you tell us more about the idea conveyed by 'ghali', HBZ ?
  9. phosphore Senior Member

    Interesting topic.

    In Russian too дорогóй, дорогáя, дорогóе means both dear and expensive.

    In Serbian, however, we use different words: дрâг, дрáга, дрáго (obviously related to Russian дорогóй, -áя, -óе) means only dear, while скуп, скýпа, скýпо means expensive.

    I would not say that in any of these languages (Spanish, French, Russian etc.) words meaning dear and expensive are exactly homonyms, it is rather one single word with these two (and probably more) meanings.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2009
  10. HBZ55 Senior Member

    Arabic - Tunisia
    I don't think it's actually used much in Modern Standard Arabic, it's used, but people generally prefer to use "bahidho a-thamani" to convey the meaning of expensive. But in the case of beloved it's commonly used.
    Using the word in both contexts is correct, and you find them in dictionaries, but I think its usage is more common in the way I mentioned.
    In my dialect, Tunisian Arabic, it's used almost exclusively used to convey both meanings.
  11. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Isn't that the definition of a homonym ? Of course one could say that a homonym can refer to quite distinct words and origins, but it need not, I believe. A homonym is one form, several meanings. No ???
  12. RaLo18 Senior Member

    In Hebrew, the word יקר (yakar) means both expansive (or valuable) and dear.

    (Morfix, an online dictionary, suggests beloved as well, but I think it's a rather awkward translation.)
  13. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Are you suggesting 'dear' and 'beloved' mean something else, RaLO ? Of yes, what then ?
  14. FabiArgentina

    FabiArgentina Senior Member

    Argentinian Spanish
    For ThomasK in #3: according to Diccionario de la Real Academia Española, the meaning "difficult or hard" it is given to "caro". I was surprised myself for that entry that I did not know (that's why I love this forum, we always learn something) and I post the site where I found them.
    Regretfully I lack of any knowledge of linguistics and etimology :( in order to make any further colaboration on what has been said up to here, but I really enjoyed learning from all of you
  15. phosphore Senior Member

    I am not sure about that. These would rather be cases of polysemy.
  16. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I had a quick look at : "Lexicographers define polysemes within a single dictionary lemma, numbering different meanings, while homonyms are treated in separate lemmata." In that case I guess polysemy would be the right word in English, in Dutch the words do not even have the same form.

    @FabiArg: I would be inclined to focus on the most common meanings, but strictly speaking we cannot just do away with the others. However, here we focus on the parallel beloved/ expensive mainly.

    (Can't anyone invite a Chinese, Japanese, African... speaker here ???)
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2009
  17. jazyk Senior Member

    Brno, Česká republika
    Brazílie, portugalština
    In Portuguese, caro can be both dear and expensive. I've seen dear in British English too meaning expensive, but maybe only once or twice.
  18. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    So at least in Romanic and Germanic languages, in Greek and in Slavic languages, there is a clear link. It would be great to have non-Indo-European additions.
  19. niernier

    niernier Senior Member

    Manila, Philippines
    Bicol & Filipino
    In Filipino, the word 'mahal' can be both used as an endearment(dear) and adjective(expensive). mahal is also a root verb(to love) that conjugates to a variety of conjugations: minahal, minamahal, nagmahal, nagmamahal, mamahalin, magmahal, magmamahal, pagmamahal etc.

    In Japanese, I don't think they use the same words for beloved and expensive. Takai(高い) is an adjective that means expensive but it does not mean beloved or dear. This word takai also means tall when used in phrase "se ga takai" (背が高い)
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2009
  20. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    An alternative, Niernier, would be 'valuable'. A beloved person is valuable to someone, not just expensive ;-).

    As for 'mahal', that is quite amazing to me: it seems to suggest the opposite, that love came first and that was the basis for the meaning 'expensive'...

    (what is Bicol as a language ?)
  21. niernier

    niernier Senior Member

    Manila, Philippines
    Bicol & Filipino
    Bicol is just one of the many languages spoken in the Philippines. I don't know the exact number but Wikipedia says there are 170 languages spoken in the country. Every region has their own language, and are known to have mutually unintelligible forms of speech. Filipino is considered to be our official language and is largely based in Tagalog, the language spoken in the Tagalog region.

    However, in my native language, Bicol, we don't use the same word for expensive and beloved. We use 'mahal' for expensive but we have another term for beloved.

    I think what you said is true, that love came first and was the basis for the word expensive or valuable, at least in Filipino.
  22. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    That seems amazing then. Right now I cannot think of a parallel I know. Can anyone else ?
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2009
  23. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    So we seem to have ended up with quite some resemblances (though sometimes 'beloved' could be translated as 'valuable' as well). I think I could add 'teuer' in German as well. But this has been quite an impressive list.
  24. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    This is off-topic, but it is funny how in Russian скупóй [skupoi] means "greedy, tight with money"

    Just a suggestion for all Cyrillic writers: it could be useful to give the pronounciation in Latinic so that all foreros can have an idea how to say the words we post.
  25. sakvaka

    sakvaka Senior Member

    In Finnish we have the adjective kallis, which means both beloved [in the speaker's point of view] and expensive. The first meaning is a bit old-fashioned.
  26. federicoft Senior Member

    Italian: caro/caro. Perfect homonyms.
  27. nikka New Member

    This works also in Hungarian - you can say "drága" to mean dear/darling or to convey that something is expensive. It is spelled and pronounced exactly the same way.
  28. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    While reading all this again (and enjoying it), I suddenly thought of this: could there be any justification for making one meaning the first ?

    I tend to put 'expensive' first etymologically, but then there is the Filipino word 'mahal' where love seems to come first... Anyone ?

    How about the Swedish kaer ? I think expensive is dyr, but I am not sure...

    Has anyone ever discovered the contribution about 'dear' ? It is amazing !!!

    Yet, the Dutch translation 'gezien, geacht' is no good really, very incomplete, I'd say: it could also mean 'beste' (informal), etc. . So we shall still need one another... ;-)
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 16, 2018
  29. KottaKitta Member

    South Lake Tahoe, CA
    Hungarian / Hungary
    In Hungarian (a Uralic, more exactly Finno-Ugrian language):

    "drága" (= beloved/expensive)

    Interestingly, the order of the letters is exactly the same as the feminine form in Serbian ("дрáга", see above), except we use Roman letters, not cyrillic (and probably pronounce it somewhat the same way). As "drága" and "дрáга" are very close to the Russian form "дорогой", I suppose we adopted it from the Slavic languages.
  30. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Just wondering: do we refer to expensive or valuable here ? In some cases one seems more appropriate as a translation, in others the other. How about in Hungarian or in Russian/ Serbian ?
  31. KottaKitta Member

    South Lake Tahoe, CA
    Hungarian / Hungary
    The Hungarian "drága" and the Russian "дорогой" words both mean "expensive" (that is, high in price). I'm not sure about Serbian (but I would say it follows the same logic).

    /There is a better Hungarian word for the word "valuable" = "értékes". The expression "értékes ember" means "valuable person" (for a company, for example). But this meaning diverges from the original thread./
  32. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    Russian дорогой [dorogoy] only means expensive and dear/darling.
    Valuable is ценный [tsennyi] (also precious) or полезный [poleznyi] (also useful).
  33. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Rani_Author informed me that there is a word "berharga" (precious) in Indonesian. It can be used, she writes, to refer to persons who are "close" to us, or dear, or simply to talk about precious things. But, as an adjective, not a noun. The examples she mentions: temanku yang berharga (my precious friend), gelangku yang berharga (my precious bracelet).
  34. ilocas2 Banned

    Czech belongs on the list of languages where it means both - drahý
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2016
  35. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    Tagalog has Sinta for Beloved and Mahal for dear and expensive. Sinta means precious one or unequalled.The term Mahal can be used in more than two persons or situations and it does not hold the significance of faithfulness to one partner.The term Ibig( want) is the root word of Pag Ibig( love) is probably related to Greek word Epic( lasting,memorable?).
  36. Rani_Author

    Rani_Author Senior Member

    Indonesia - Indonesian
    :thumbsup::D Dank u zeer.

    Yes, it's right. Because, in Indonesian, beloved is "tercinta, tersayang". While, expensive is "mahal". These both words are unrelated in Indonesian.

    Tetun adopted Spanish word "querido/-a" to mention about "dear". But, just as an adjective:arrow:dear, not as a noun:arrow:lover, darling (In Tetun, doben, namoradu/-a. It's adapted from Portuguese one: namorado/-a). So, they are unrelated with expensive one, too. While, expensive in Tetun is "karun".

    Would you like to come here and answer this thread, @SuperXW, @Messquito & @Ocham-さん? :) 谢谢/ 謝謝/ 心から 感謝します。
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2016
  37. Ocham Senior Member

    In Japanese there's no word that means both beloved and expensive.
  38. Rani_Author

    Rani_Author Senior Member

    Indonesia - Indonesian
    Ah, I forgot to say, don't ever use the word "mahal" or "karun" to any Indonesians and East Timoreses! Not like Romance languages and some languages that use the word "expensive" for closest persons, we don't. On the contrary, it's a kind of insult.

    Example: "Dasar mahal!" (Huh, expensive!) in Indonesian and "Karun-teen ne'e!" (Expensive person, huh?) in Tetun to mention/ insult someone who always chooses friends based on their wealths/ handsomenesses/ beauties, to mention/ insult someone who asks very very high costs to be paid in marriage ceremony, to mention/ insult someone who makes distance with us because s/he consider us not in his/ her level of wealth/ handsomeness/ beauty.

    Thank you for sharing with us. :) Sorry for disturbing you. :D
  39. 123xyz

    123xyz Senior Member

    Skopje, Macedonia

    драг - dear, beloved, cherished
    скап - expensive

    So, it's just like in Serbian - the two words are separate. However, an interesting context where their paths meet:

    драгоцен (lit. dear-priced) = скапоцен (lit. expensive-priced) = precious
  40. dihydrogen monoxide Senior Member

    Slovene, Serbo-Croat
    [Moderator's Note: Merged with a previous thread--Ghabi]
    Can words in your language that express endearment and/or affection also express pricing or putting a value on something? I'll start with a few examples to see what I mean.

    Schatz 'honey' schätzen 'to value'

    dear 'love, darling' dear 'expensive'

    dragV (a,i,o) 'love,darling' drago 'expensive'
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 16, 2018
  41. hui Senior Member

    kulta = gold; figuratively: dear, darling, sweetheart
    (kullan)muru = (gold) nugget; figuratively: dear, darling, sweetheart
  42. Yendred Senior Member

    Français - France
    The double meaning in latin languages comes from the latin "carus", which already had this double meaning.
    Anyway, if you think about it, the double meaning is not so double. If you lose someone who you love, it will cost you a lot (sentimentally at least).

    In French, if we want to be more specific, we use synonyms or periphrasis:
    beloved: cher, but also chéri, adoré
    expensive: cher, but also coûteux, pas donné, ruineux
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2018
  43. Sardokan1.0

    Sardokan1.0 Senior Member

    Sardu / Italianu
    Same thing here in Italian and Sardinian

    Italian : caro (beloved) - caro (expensive)
    Sardinian : caru (beloved) - caru (expensive)
  44. Demiurg

    Demiurg Senior Member

    German "Schatz" means precious / treasure, "schätzen" likewise to value / to treasure / to appreciate.

    There's also the (old-fashioned) address "meine Teuerste" (my dearest) - "teuer" means dear and expensive.
  45. Messquito

    Messquito Senior Member

    台灣台北 Taipei, Taiwan
    Chinese - Taiwan 中文 Taiwanese Hokkien 臺語
    I can't think, offhand, of any common thread between the two said senses of dear in Chinese.
    Expensive is 昂貴 in Chinese.
    Darling is 親愛的 (親=close; intimate, 愛=love).

    Of course, if you stretch the topic out a little and consider the word 寶, you can sort of pull a tenuous thread through the two concepts:

    寶 means, in its purest form, treasure.

    (treasure+valuable/pricey) means precious or valuable. It is often used for things that you cherish rather than things for sale (unlike "expensive")
    寶貝(bao3bei4, treasure+shell(shell was used as currency in ancient China)) is what I'd consider a "semi-loanword":
    This word has long been used in Chinese to somehow mean "rarities/something your cherish", but that meaning has later given way to a newcomer definition "baby (as in "Baby, do you love me?")" due to its phonetic (they kind of sound alike) and semantic ("baby" is somewhat analogous to "treasure") proximity to the English word "baby". Many think of 寶貝 as a transliteration of baby, but it certainly isn't, at least insofar as it is not a word created to simulate the sound of a foreign word.

    A juxtaposition of these two words shows that you can sort of find a link between the two concepts, but not quite so because:
    1. 寶貴, despite being similar to "expensive", more often than not means "valuable". It rarely has to do with actual price but how a person view it.
    2. 寶貝 only took on the meaning "beloved, darling" as a result of English influence, which is to say that the link is not culturally/linguistically intrinsic but rather an enrichment from an external source.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
  46. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    In many cases the word for 'cher' implies value as well, and the connection might be more between valuable and beloved, than dear and beloved. Yet, money is one way of expressing value, I think, though of course... One could also explore the link between treasure and love: it is again a matter of value, rather than of price, but the association with price is very common...

    I have just checked at, and the meaning is described as precious, costly, expensive, etc. The former meaning got obsolete though. The emotional meaning arose in the mid-13th century… That explains the ambiguity now, I think: the emo meaning was based on the preciousness, but the word meaning shifted towards expensiveness (if all those -ness words are correct...).
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
  47. Dymn

    Dymn Senior Member

    I don't know what acception is he referring to, the 5th in the RAE mentions "difficulty" but it's a bit misleading. It's simply a figurative usage of "expensive", the example they put: "te va a salir cara la broma" means the prank will have dire consequences. Not at all linked with "difficulty".

    In Spanish, caro can be used in the "dear" sense but it's something almost literary and I have the feeling it's less common in French and Italian. Querido is much more usual, even apreciado which also shows this link between price and love. Apreciar is to appreciate, despreciar to despise, etc.

    In Catalan, the usual word for "to love" is estimar, so same word for "to estimate" and "to love".

    I think this connection is widespread throughout the world's languages. Expensive things are good, loveworthy, cheap things are despiseful and have poor quality. Cheap demagoguery, for example. Or going onto wealth, rich things are exuberant, expressive, plentiful; poor things are clumsy, low-quality, etc.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
  48. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I'd say: yes and no. Valuable for sure, expensive not per se - but of course valuable things are sometimes paid in "hard cash"... But it does work for "cheap", I believe: that use is probably common indeed...

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