blessing or boon

valdemar

Senior Member
Español mexicano
I'm struggling on how to distinguish both of these words: blessing or boon. My first thought when reading their definitions was that they are pretty much synonyms in these examples:

... the great variety and complexity of the works produced in ancient Iraq have been a boon/blessing to archaeologists... (Fattah, H.- A brief history of Iraq).

... this donation is a boon/blessing for the elderly (I made it up)

Now, today I came across this post on a blog that explains how today dark-skin people are consider to be ugly in India and that it matters a lot when it comes to traditional arranged marriage. If the boy is fair and the girl is dark-skinned then it would be a torment for the boy but what about the girl? That's the question according to the post: a blessing or a boon? As you can see there is a difference then between a boon and a blessing, at least in the mind of the author. My question is: what is the difference between both of them?.



Many thanks in advance.
 
  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    ... the great variety and complexity of the works produced in ancient Iraq have been a boon/blessing to archaeologists... (Fattah, H.- A brief history of Iraq).
    Does the original actually include both words?

    Boon is old-fashioned and rarely used in BE - except perhaps when humorously referencing 19th century advertisements. Over 900 years, its meaning has varied from originally a prayer to the thing prayed for and then to an advantage, it is this latter meaning that is now current (although rarely used.)

    Blessings are given by deities (and sometimes in the sense of "permission/agreement" by people.) The nature of a blessing is usually advantageous, whereas the boon itself is an advantage.

    We now come to
    As you can see there is a difference then between a boon and a blessing, at least in the mind of the author.
    Yes, that is certainly where it is.
    My question is: what is the difference between both of them?.
    We do not have any real context, and the author is perhaps the only one why could explain the difference but the supernatural aspect still resides in "blessing" which seems to be given with some sort of imagined purpose, whereas in "boon" this aspect has been lost, and boon implies that whatever the advantage is, it is available as an option.

    I would use "blessing"
     
    Last edited:

    valdemar

    Senior Member
    Español mexicano
    Thank you guys for your replies.

    If you had searched the forum first you would have found this::)

    boon/blessing
    Yes, thank you. I saw it before I posted but still I wanted to ask this question. Now I'm not sure if I should have posted there, maybe both should be merged.

    Does the original actually include both words?
    No, the actual word they use is "boon". In fact the word "boon" is my very problem because in Spanish the word blessing has an exact equivalent (bendición). As I understand, "blessing" is kind of an act of giving "good luck" like when the parents give a blessing to their children or when Jesus bless his disciples in the sense that they wish the best for them, etc. So a blessing means something close to "the best wishes", "the best of luck", and ultimately, as in the context discussed, an "advantage". This is confusing because in all the examples that I get from the dictionary it seems that the word "boon" may be substituted by the word "blessing". For example:

    - The bus service is a real boon to people in the village. (Longman Dictionary)
    - It’s been a real boon to have a car this week (Cambridge Dictionary)
    - Reliable day care is a boon to working parents (Webester's Dictionary)

    So my last question is then if there's no change in meaning if instead I use the word "blessing". What is the nuance? also is the use of "boon" common in these examples? (I assume not from what you just said before in the post but just to be sure).
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Have a look at Google Ngram for the frequency of boon and blessing in AE and BE over the past 200 years: Click Me

    There is no real difference between "boon" and "blessing". Did you look at post #2. Blessing has fallen in use with the decline in religious belief and boon was never very popular.

    Blogs are not reliable sources of good English. :thumbsup:
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    If you extend that ngram back another few centuries and smooth it, you see very clearly the rise and fall in popularity of "blessing" in line with social and religious change (Google Ngram Viewer). It was increasingly popular with the rise of puritanism 1550-1650 and then dropped off during the enlightenment. It had a new lease of life in 1750-1850 with the increase in religiosity in the Victorian era, and is now on the decline again. But it's not been replaced by "boon". I surmise that entirely secular words like benefit, asset or advantage have taken over...

    (PS what happened to "boon" in America 1580 to 1660? Something odd there.)
     

    valdemar

    Senior Member
    Español mexicano
    Nice!!! It's interesting to see on the graphs how on the contrary the word "bendición" is almost at its highest point in use. This makes me think that I would probably be using the word "blessing" in cases where natives don't. The thing is there are some phrases in Spanish in which "bendición" is the expected word so in the translations I would always use "blessing". How would you say these phrases in a natural way:

    -It's a blessing to be able to count with your family when you must need it.
    -It's a blessing to have this job even when I don't fulfill the requirements.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    -It's a great advantage to be able to rely upon your family when needed / in times of need.
    -I am very fortunate to have this job although I don't fulfill the requirements.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    (PS what happened to "boon" in America 1580 to 1660? Something odd there.)
    Yes, strange... I checked and it is all down to books in Gothic script:

    "A profitable and necessarye doctryne with certayne homelies set forth" By Edmund Bonner gives, "And that reverence which is doon before the images or ment to be doon." but doon is read by OCR as "boon"

    Common Places of Christian Religion By Wolfgang Musculus Has "... God through the brightnesse of his woorks doothe rebound upon the myndes of the wyse..." the OCR recognises upon as boon.

    Likewise, "An Antiquodlibet, or an Aduertisement to beware of secular priests." has Syon and upon also recognised as boon.
     
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