high-class, classy, luxury

meijin

Senior Member
Japanese
Hi all. Let's say your friend or co-worker showed you their pocket notebook (it's a small notebook which I believe some office workers still carry with them to maintain their schedules), whose design looks great (but 'great' isn't really the word). So you say, "Wow, it has/gives off __________". I've been looking for the best English translation for a three-character Japanese word that fills the underlined part, and according to the Japanese-English dictionary I use, it's "a sense of high quality [extravagance, luxuriousness]".

There is a Japanese website in which English teachers (including non-native English speakers, I believe) answer questions from English learners, and sometime ago a learner asked a similar question (although without giving a context), and two teachers suggested the following three adjectives.
  • high-class
  • classy
  • luxury
(The two teachers both suggested 'high-class', and one of them also suggested 'more expensive')

If I translate the three characters used in the Japanese word, they will be "high - class - feeling". So I'm not surprised that the teachers suggested "high-class" and "classy". Neither of the teachers suggested "premium", which some people here in Japan are starting to use (yes, we use lots of English words) to mean the same thing, although they probably wouldn't use it for a notebook.

So, if I apply the above three adjectives to the above context, it would be:

1. Wow, it looks high-class.
2. Wow, it looks classy.
3. Wow, it looks luxury.


Is any of these adjectives actually appropriate for describing a pocket notebook? Of the three, I seem to think "classy" is most appropriate (and "classy design" or "classiness" as a noun). Or is it more natural to say "Wow, it looks expensive" or "Wow, what an expensive-looking design"?
We also use an English expression 'high quality' when we see something that looks.....high quality. But it's not really "quality" which the speaker in the above context is referring to. I think it's more about the design (appearance).
 
  • meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thanks for the reply Erebos12345. Good to know that at least one Canadian finds the three options inappropriate. This is why I tend not to trust dictionaries or Japanese sites and instead use this forum. :)
    Also, funny you should suggest "fancy", because, there was another Japanese word (which a lot of us mistakenly translate into "fashionable") which I had been struggling to find the best English adjective for, and only a couple of days ago I realized that 'fancy' was the word.

    So, it seems I still need suggestions from you native English speakers.
     

    Erebos12345

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Hello,

    Yes. Personally, just to compliment a friend's notebook in this case, I'd say: Wow, what a fancy notebook. Wow, it looks fancy. Exactly what each person would qualify as fancy, will vary.

    The other adjectives don't feel appropriate for describing a notebook, especially in this context.
    A high-class notebook...maybe a high-class hotel, a high-class escort.
    A classy notebook...classy behaviour, a classy woman (who would behave in a classy manner).
    A luxurious notebook...luxurious mansion, luxurious car.
    An expensive notebook :tick: But you're looking to describe something beyond its cost, I think.
    A premium notebook...Sounds almost like an advertisement for notebooks on TV, or some over-the-top branding you'd see on the packaging of the notebook in the store, to try to get you to buy it. :D
    A high-quality notebook...As you mentioned, is really focusing on the quality of the notebook.
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank your very much for those explanations Erebos12345. They are really helpful and I agree with them.
    Having looked up the word "fancy" in a few dictionaries I have, it does seem to be the word I've been looking for. For example, the Oxford dictionary I use says: "sophisticated or expensive in a way that is intended to impress". Yes, that's perfect for the context in the original post. Thank you very much!!! :thumbsup:
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    But if I want to convert it into a noun, "fanciness" would be wrong, wouldn't it? Should it be "a fancy design" or "a fancy look"?

    e.g.
    "What do you like so much about this notebook?"
    "The fancy design/look."
     

    Erebos12345

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    "What do you like so much about this notebook?"
    "The fancy design/look."
    :tick:

    "What do you like so much about this notebook?"
    "The fanciness" or "its fanciness"

    Right. This doesn't sound good. I'm not too sure why. Maybe it's because fanciness (n) isn't used as often. Kind of sounds like you're joking or being ironic.
     

    NewWorld

    Member
    English-USA
    What about "elegance"? ...it is elegant. Or ....it has a certain elegance about it.
     
    Last edited:

    Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    If you want to use an adjective:
    It's very stylish.
    It's very chic.
    It's elegant. (as NewWorld suggests)
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you both for the suggestions. They are all good except one point. The notebook in the original post also looks expensive. I've just checked the four words you suggested in the English dictionaries I use, but none of them carries this meaning, while "fancy" does (at least in the dictionaries I use).
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    In BE "fancy" is not always a positive attribute. I would never describe something I wanted to buy as "fancy". I could easily say "No, I don't like that: it's too fancy".:D
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    In BE "fancy" is not always a positive attribute. I would never describe something I wanted to buy as "fancy". I could easily say "No, I don't like that: it's too fancy".:D
    Fortunately, the document I'm currently translating is for Americans, but I'll have to think about that when I translate for BE speakers. Having said that, I see that you put "too" before the word in your example, and you also say "not always", so maybe the word still works fine in BE depending on the context.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Everything always depends on context.

    Perhaps it would be worth exploring the various nuances of "fancy" in AE and BE in another thread.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I was going to propose deluxe ... but it sounds somewhat odd used after a noun:

    Wow, your notebook's really deluxe:confused::(:thumbsdown:
    He made a note of it in his deluxe notebook:):thumbsup:
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Meijin has bought himself a fancy new notebook. (I'm feeling jealous, and I want to imply that it's more fancy than practical.)
    Ewie has bought himself a de luxe notebook. (I've probably seen it advertised as 'de luxe'.)
    Velisarius has treated herself to a new, top-of-the-range notebook. (And she deserves it too:p.)
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you for the additional replies. I'll reply to your posts tomorrow, but before going to bed I need to ask this (I'll reply tomorrow). It's about Erebos12345's impression of the word "premium" in post #4, which I quote below.
    A premium notebook...Sounds almost like an advertisement for notebooks on TV, or some over-the-top branding you'd see on the packaging of the notebook in the store, to try to get you to buy it. :D
    Does this means that it's OK to use the word "premium" if the speaker wants to mean what Erebos12345 perceived? Please see the following examples.

    4a) Is that your notebook? Wow, it looks premium/it has a premium look/it has a premium design. :cross:
    4b) Is that your notebook? Wow, it looks like a premium product. :cross:
    4c) Is that your notebook? Wow, it looks like what they call a "premium product". :rolleyes:
    4d) Is that your notebook? Wow, it looks......what was the word they use? Ah, yes, "premium". :rolleyes:


    Would you say 4c and 4d are possible?

    Thanks (and see you later)
     

    Erebos12345

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    The others are right. If you're not careful, fancy can easily imply excessively fancy.

    For example, in post 6/7: What do you like so much about this notebook? Its fanciness.

    Even the fancy design/look implies it a little bit.

    On the other hand, I think it's still okay if someone complimented me wow, that's a fancy notebook you've got there. I wouldn't give it much thought. (Certainly not as much as I've already given to the word fancy thus far):rolleyes:

    In a casual context, you may be better off just saying that's a cool (or another equally generic adjective) notebook. Why do you like that notebook? I think it looks cool. And then you can elaborate on why you think it's cool. Its design, its look, its fancy (oops) pockets and dividers, etc.

    4a) Is that your notebook? Wow, it looks premium/it has a premium look/it has a premium design. :cross:
    4b) Is that your notebook? Wow, it looks like a premium product. :cross:
    4c) Is that your notebook? Wow, it looks like what they call a "premium product". :rolleyes:
    4d) Is that your notebook? Wow, it looks......what was the word they use? Ah, yes, "premium". :rolleyes:


    Would you say 4c and 4d are possible?

    Thanks (and see you later)
    :D I guess 4c and 4d are okay. Yeah, I feel that premium is usually used in advertising or branding. Premium wine made from premium grapes. Premium quality coffee. Premium socks made from the finest silk. All are now available at your local Wal-Mart. I don't think I'd use premium in conversation like that. So, as long as you're conscious of that, 4c and 4d could be interpreted as poking fun at their use of premium.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    In BE we tend to humblebrag rather than to brag about our stuff. I wouldn't dare tell a British person that their possessions are in any way "fancy".

    - Brand new notebook? Oh, you mean this old thing? Well, I've had it quite a while and it's nothing fancy, but it does the job.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    In BE we tend to humblebrag rather than to brag about our stuff. I wouldn't dare tell a British person that their possessions are in any way "fancy".

    - Brand new notebook? Oh, you mean this old thing? Well, I've had it quite a while and it's nothing fancy, but it does the job.
    :D:thumbsup: Another thing we do is to play down the cost of things:
    ~Wow, I like your notebook! it looks ever so 'premium product'.
    ~It bloody ought to—it cost me enough.

    Note the quotes on premium product:cool:
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thanks all. I'm glad that I can use "premium" that way. :)

    I didn't know that deluxe or de luxe can be used for things like notebooks. We actually use the word (we pronounce it almost the same way), but we only use it the same way you use "premium". It's a pity that you can't say "The notebook looks deluxe".

    Top-of-range (or high-end, for electronic devices, for example) is a nice expression, but the Japanese word I talked about in the original post doesn't carry the meaning "top/highest", so it's not quite suitable.

    There are a couple of other English words that seem to suggest "high class feeling", but none of them seems appropriate for notebooks.

    sumptuous (Not the first word that comes to mind when you look at an expensive-looking, elegant notebook?)
    posh (Not the word you'd use for a notebook?)
    high-grade (High-grade notebook? Is there such a thing??)​
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    I don't think I'd use any of the other options (high-class, classy, luxurious).
    I've just read a few threads about luxury vs. luxurious, and it seems one can say:

    5a) Wow, the notebook looks like a luxury item. (Or simply "a luxury"?)
    5b) Wow, is that one of those luxury notebooks? (But this one sounds similar to saying "Is that one of those 'premium' notebooks?")
     

    Erebos12345

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    5a) Wow, the notebook looks like a luxury item. (Or simply "a luxury"?)
    I would be inclined to think you weren't very well off if you thought that a notebook was a luxury item. :eek:
    His family was very poor and could not afford much. Even bath soap was considered a luxury item.

    5b) Wow, is that one of those luxury notebooks? (But this one sounds similar to saying "Is that one of those 'premium' notebooks?")
    No...while premium notebook can work in certain contexts, luxury notebook doesn't.
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    5a) Wow, the notebook looks like a luxury item. (Or simply "a luxury"?)
    I would be inclined to think you weren't very well off if you thought that a notebook was a luxury item. :eek:
    His family was very poor and could not afford much. Even bath soap was considered a luxury item.

    5b) Wow, is that one of those luxury notebooks? (But this one sounds similar to saying "Is that one of those 'premium' notebooks?")
    No...while premium notebook can work in certain contexts, luxury notebook doesn't.
    Looks like I just learned a clear difference between the two (or three). While luxury means "expensive and high quality (for the speaker)", premium and deluxe mean "priced higher and special".
     
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