'lovely' in BrE;'wonderful' in AmE. Is that so?

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Tenacious Learner

Senior Member
Spanish
Hi teachers,
I've read that both 'wonderful' and 'lovely' mean the same, and that a synonym for them is 'fantastic'.
Is it true that 'lovely' is the most frequent in spoken British English, but in North American English 'wondeful' is the most frequent, both spoken and written.

Thanks in advance.
 
  • dadane

    Senior Member
    English-London
    I have no idea. It is very common in BE. A word of caution though, in BE it is also used sarcastically as in interjection meaning exactly the opposite.
     

    Elwintee

    Senior Member
    England English
    I cannot comment on AmE usage, but in BrE there are subtle differences. If one says 'she is a lovely woman' one probably means she is beautiful, graceful. But if you say 'she is a wonderful woman', then you mean that she has excellent human qualities such as courage and kindness. I would very seldom describe a woman as 'fantastic', and that adjective is certainly not synonymous with the other two, at least in my vocabulary.
     

    Tenacious Learner

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    I cannot comment on AmE usage, but in BrE there are subtle differences. If one says 'she is a lovely woman' one probably means she is beautiful, graceful. But if you say 'she is a wonderful woman', then you mean that she has excellent human qualities such as courage and kindness. I would very seldom describe a woman as 'fantastic', and that adjective is certainly not synonymous with the other two, at least in my vocabulary.
    Thanks.
    What if you say:
    a) It's a lovely evening.
    b) It's lovely at this time of the year.
    Wouldn't they be interchangeable?

    TL
     

    Bevj

    Allegra Moderata (Sp/Eng, Cat)
    English (U.K.)
    I agree with Elwintee; the three words are not exact synonyms. In some circumstances they may be similar and interchangeable but this depends on the context.
     

    dadane

    Senior Member
    English-London
    In fact, and I didn't spot this first time around, 'fantastic' used alone as a description of a person (m. or f.) can have sexual connotations which 'lovely' certainly doesn't. I think this may be what Elwintree is hinting at. ;)
     

    Tenacious Learner

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    In fact, and I didn't spot this first time around, 'fantastic' used alone as a description of a person (m. or f.) can have sexual connotations which 'lovely' certainly doesn't. I think this may be what Elwintree is hinting at. ;)
    Thanks!
    I always learn something new!:D

    TL
     

    Elwintee

    Senior Member
    England English
    In fact, and I didn't spot this first time around, 'fantastic' used alone as a description of a person (m. or f.) can have sexual connotations which 'lovely' certainly doesn't. I think this may be what Elwintree is hinting at. ;)
    Actually I hadn't thought of that, but you are right. Of course the context is everything. In a pub conversation between men, then the sexual connotation might apply. But after seeing an exceptional acting performance by a woman, another woman (or man) might say "Wasn't she fantastic!".
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hi teachers,
    I've read that both 'wonderful' and 'lovely' mean the same, and that a synonym for them is 'fantastic'.
    Is it true that 'lovely' is the most frequent in spoken British English, but in North American English 'wondeful' is the most frequent, both spoken and written.

    Thanks in advance.
    You can partially check this by using Google ngram.

    Comparing 'lovely' and 'wonderful' in AE
    http://books.google.com/ngrams/grap...00&year_end=2000&corpus=17&smoothing=3&share=

    Comparing 'lovely' and 'wonderful' in BE
    http://books.google.com/ngrams/grap...00&year_end=2000&corpus=18&smoothing=3&share=

    It appears from these graphs that 'wonderful' is used more frequently both in AE and BE.
     
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