Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
According to respected lexicons, “beautific” is not an English word. Noah Volushen, president of the League of English Prescriptivists, says that “anyone who thinks ‘beautific’ is a word is a mammering, mewling, motley-minded moldwarp.” (I think that’s the quotation–I can’t check this because I was drummed out of the League after Noah read my posts on Big Fuzzy Spots.)
Yet “beautific” is a common word on the web, with thousands of citations. Most instances of “beautific” on the web, it would appear, stem from a confusion with the word “beatific.” You can see this by googling “beautific vision” and “beautific smile.” Three examples of “beautific smile” are given below.
“Beautific” and “beatific” do not share a common ancestor. One of them traces through the Latin “beatus” (blessed) and the other comes from the Latin “bellus” (beautiful).
“Beautific,” when it replaces “beatific,” is probably an eggcorn. The person who makes this substitution may be semantically linking blessedness and beauty. The link between these two concepts derives, I think, from the artists of the Renaissance and Enlightenment, who tended to gussy the gesso when depicting saints. In my own experience, ugliness best consorts with saintliness.
Yoga blog: “The last morning of the retreat, I saw her beautific smile and couldn’t help but smile myself.”
Music/media diary: “[T]heir caricatures forever beckoning to new generations with a beautific smile and ample bosom”
Web site devoted to the tango: “ When you hear his sweet but powerful bandoneón, see his beautific smile and dance live to his orquesta, you understand why.”
Last edited by kem (2010-01-03 12:24:32)