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Ways of saying that somebody looks amazing/ugly Options
dave freak
Posted: Wednesday, August 09, 2017 4:54:27 PM
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Good evening to everyone!

I need some idioms or fixed colloquial phrases used to say that somebody's smartly/poorly dressed or simply looks good/bad. Studying at university, I learnt/learned of the following phrases I put in the sentences below; however, I'm not sure whether they're still in use.

Dear me! She cuts a dash in that dress!
She looks gorgeous!
You look like a million dollars in this suit!
She's a sight for sore eyes!

She's is an eyesore! Can I say so about people?
You cannot go to school dressed that way - you'd look like something the cat brought in!

Thank you!
thar
Posted: Wednesday, August 09, 2017 5:36:20 PM

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To cut a dash sounds very old-fashioned.

You wouldn't call someone an eyesore. That applies to buildings that are either broken-down and abandoned, or are hideous architecture.

Me saying you are sight for sore eyes is not about your appearance - it is about my not having seen you for a long time, and being pleased to see you because I missed you.

Something the cat dragged in is the more common version. But yes, that means a mess, (like after a rough night out).
Similarly (especially with messy hair) 'you look like you've been dragged through a hedge backwards'.

I can't think of any positive ones - bad of me!
coag
Posted: Wednesday, August 09, 2017 6:05:31 PM

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stunner informal
1
: a very attractive person
His wife is a real stunner.
(Webster)
NKM
Posted: Thursday, August 10, 2017 12:41:53 AM

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A smartly dressed man may be said to be "dashing", or to "cut a dashing figure". But that's not something we'd say of a woman.

Romany
Posted: Thursday, August 10, 2017 4:52:20 AM
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Cool! Hot! Fit! Skank,

If you're at Uni now then I should think the 3 most popular "positives" would be "Cool!", "Hot" and "Fit". They're words that can be used about both men and women.

'Fit' can have certain sexual connotations if you say it ABOUT someone. But if your mate/s are all dressed up for an evening out, saying "Hey you guys look fit tonight!" is a nice compliment.

I don't know many 'bad' ones, though being a 'nightmare' is an all purpose put-down. But if you hear someone called a 'skank' (usually a female but not necessarily) it's nasty: not only does someone look terrible but they're horrible person - and rather loose sexually.Though you can say a person is a 'horror'. (Unfortunately for TFD a lot of the negative ones are/contain swear-words. )

But if all else fails just 'cool' will do it. And although we don't use the opposite 'uncool' saying a person is "NOT cool" gets the message across.

You'll also find that there are some words for good or bad that are only used in your Uni - or even in your Year. That's normal. Use 'em. It's all part of the Uni experience! So, mostly, listen to what people around you say - you'll probably learn words we don't even know!!
Kunstniete
Posted: Thursday, August 10, 2017 5:02:33 AM

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I also came across the phrase "She's a total knockout" for a beautiful woman, but don't know if it's commonly used.

The value of choice is not in the size of the action but in its effect.
dave freak
Posted: Thursday, August 10, 2017 8:07:50 AM
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Thanks to everyone!

thar@

Nicely answered, as usual. I wasn't sure if I could call a person an eyesore.

@NKM

Dashing? I like it! Thanks, buddy.

@Romany

It's been 3 years since I finished my studies and now teach English both in a public and private school. The thing is that by teaching English I'm still learning myself. I reckon learning is 80% about repetitions. The biggest issue which arises here is what is more important: fluency or accuracy? Or how to reconcile them?

Currently, I'm not visiting England so often as I used to, so I've been trying to be in touch with everyday English in the summer break by watching English series, reading newpaper magazines etc. in order not to be behind with the currently used vocabulary. For instance, as thar pointed out, "cut a dash" is no longer used. Native teachers who taught us would keep saying that we shouldn't use the phrases whose meaning/usage we are not sure of. "Cool", "fit" and "hot" are the words I'm exposed to, virtually on a regular basis, so perhaps that's what I should stick with.

We students have a tendency towards newly coined phrases indeed. As an example, for 'a lavatory/restroom attendant', we once made up a phrase 'a toilet paper operator'. Whistle That was for the sake of fun.
NKM
Posted: Thursday, August 10, 2017 2:24:03 PM

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dave freak wrote:

The thing is that by teaching English I'm still learning myself.

I'm not a teacher, but through the years I've been called upon to teach people about a number of subjects. In every case I've found that I was learning from the students, sometimes just because they forced me to think more deeply about what I was explaining to them, and sometimes because our discussions branched out into unexpected areas of knowledge that they were willing to share.

Always, we live and learn!

Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, August 14, 2017 8:00:35 AM

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On the original topic (as I've been off doing other things for a few days) - those all look a bit dated to me.

There are the 'latest slang' versions ('hot' and 'cool' - but not 'warm' and 'cold' - and 'fit') which are OK, until they also begin to sound 'dated'.

There are some simple phrases which are so basic that they just sound OK anytime. Body language helps!
"You look great."
"Wow!" (This requires the totally correct body language, depending on gender, intention, and attitude).
"Very smart."

There are not many phrases for "You look awful!"
"What happened to you? Looks like you were dragged through a hedge backwards" is not too bad, as it implies that it's not the person's fault - it is some circumstance (they traveled through a storm, had a car accident on the way, etc).


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Romany
Posted: Monday, August 14, 2017 8:40:00 AM
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I've always been against giving people words or phrases to use in certain circumstances because they often just repeat them automatically and lose all spontaneity and, thus, the compliment isn't genuine.

As long as you know cool, hot and fit you're fine for hanging around with your mates. But when you're one on one with someone just use the vocab you already have and say the first thing you thought: "Wow! You look great!" or "You look scrumptious" or "You look wonderful to-night." "Aren't you the smart one?" etc.etc.

But it was just seeing Dragos last point about there not being many phrases for "You look awful", which made me wonder:-

WHY would one want to tell someone they looked awful??
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, August 14, 2017 9:25:10 AM

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I could only imagine either
1. 'having a laugh' - but you have to be good friends and understand each other.
"Gaw - you look awful! Bad night last night was it?"

or
2. sympathetic - "You look awful - that storm's really something isn't it? Come in and get dry."

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
coag
Posted: Monday, August 14, 2017 2:13:21 PM

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The use of "terrific" to say that a woman looks great was confusing to me. I saw, heard, this use in the movie Kramer vs. Kramer (1:49 into the video).
"How do I look?"
"Terrific."

It was confusing because my first association of "terrific" was with "terrible" and I remember thinking "What is this guy saying?"

I thought about "terrific" later and realized that in my mother tongue we use the same word (translates to English "frightening") to say that something is scary, and that something is excellent.

I would never say "You look like a million dollars (in this dress)!", to a woman. By my standards, this is a debasing expression and a sign that the speaker does not care what he says.
thar
Posted: Monday, August 14, 2017 3:27:41 PM

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I know this is off-topic, but coag's post brought up something I have noticed before - this area of adjectives seems particularly prone to change of meaning.

Awful - fills you with awe - used of the Old Testament God. A positive feeling. But then awful becomes just bad.
frightful - fills you with fright. Now mostly just an intensifier - very.
Fearful- filled you with fear - now just a modifier - loud/strong, in a bad way
Dreadful - fills you with dread - but also now dilutes to just becomes a modifier 'bad'
Terrible/terrific. Same root, terror, but one is very bad and one completely inverts to very good.
And my personal favourite - fantastic - a fantasy, unbelievable.
I remember the first time a saw an old film with John Mills being framed for murder saying "that's fantastic" - ie. it's an unbelievable story. Not how great it is! Whistle
Very confusing to the modern ear. Now you would call the story fantastical.

It is as if these words were too powerful - terror, dread, awe, fear. So you have to remove their meaning? Castrate them?
All those words for feeling terror just removed from the lexicon.


And of course there is always the mild 'you look nice' - which is another strange inversion as nice originally meant stupid, foolish - ne+scient - not knowing. d'oh!

Back after a break.

It works for all the positives as well. They have all lost their power and become generic 'good'
Wonderful - fills you with wonder, awe. Wondrous still has that meaning.
Marvellous - a marvel, myth
Fabulous - from myth, fable - now only in fabulous beasts.
Amazing - you are amazed. ( originally stunned, stupified - now mostly not so much!)
And the most debased by modern slang - awesome. Which it usually isn't.

When they all just mean 'great' does that mean that nobody is amazed or awed, or feels wonder? That the marvels, fables and wonders no longer exist? Think






Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, August 15, 2017 3:08:25 AM

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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Yes.

Terrific = very good
Terrible = very bad
Terrifying = causing terror.

Awesome = very good
Awful = very bad
Awe-inspiring = causing awe.

You missed the 1960s favourite - fab! - Ooops, no, it's in the second set.
"Fabulous" - similar to 'fantastic' - like a story, untrue.
Now meaning "extremely good".

It isn't fashionable to feel awed or amazed (in some dialects, 'amazed' means 'drunk' or 'dizzy').



Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
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