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Adjectives of Value

PotomacBob

"I looked into her wonderful green eyes" is a direct quote from deep in a story on this site.
My question: Does the word "wonderful" add anything of value to that description?

awnlee jawking

@PotomacBob

I looked into her wonderful green eyes


Because of overuse, 'wonderful' is a low-impact adjective nowadays; the author might have been better off with an alternative. But yes, it conveys that her eyes are more affecting than run-of-the-mill green.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@PotomacBob

I took the use of the word 'wonderful' to indicate personal romantic interest in the person above that of a clear cut description.

red61544

@PotomacBob

I imagine if they went in opposite directions, no one would call them wonderful. A better question would be, "how can you enjoy a story if you nitpick it to death?"

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Because of overuse, 'wonderful' is a low-impact adjective nowadays; the author might have been better off with an alternative. But yes, it conveys that her eyes are more affecting than run-of-the-mill green.

Maybe, but it's an indirect value. The sentence would be stronger with either "beautiful" or better yet, "captivating" or "entrancing". "Wonderful" itself doesn't convey anything about eyes.

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@red61544

I imagine if they went in opposite directions, no one would call them wonderful. A better question would be, "how can you enjoy a story if you nitpick it to death?"

Once again, if a story is strong, readers will overlook just about anything. If you have a fast-paced action scene, they'll skip over typos as if they're not even there. However, when a story slows down, and begins to drone on and they lose interest, they'll pick out each and every typo or grammar mistake available. So I wouldn't question the readers intent, but instead the author's incompetence in properly pacing the story.

REP

@Crumbly Writer

"Wonderful" itself doesn't convey anything about eyes.


The author uses wonderful to express the character's opinion of her eyes.

Beautiful, captivating and entrancing would also be the character's opinion of her eyes.

It all comes down to which of the four words you like the most. We don't know if the author considered other words, but they thought wonderful to be an adequate word and possibly the best word for what they intended.

Crumbly Writer

@REP

It all comes down to which of the four words you like the most. We don't know if the author considered other words, but they thought wonderful to be an adequate word and possibly the best word for what they intended.

I understood your point when you first expressed it, but IMHO, "wonderful" is simply a poor description of eyes. If they'd said "Her eyes are wonderful," that's a valid use, even if it's an incredibly weak sentence. If an opthamologist says "the structure of the eye is wonderful", that more meaningful. But to say "she had wonderful eyes" is essentially tossing in an utterly meaningless adjective, as it simply doesn't apply to eyes, as it's a value term (i.e. what is about them which makes her eyes more valuable than someone else's).

Normally, no one says "You're wonderful" without expanding the thought and listing the ways in which he finds them wonderful. Again "wonderful" isn't a descriptive word, its a comparative value word, which is meaningless without context.

Replies:   REP
Switch Blayde

@REP

It all comes down to which of the four words you like the most.


I believe the OP was asking if the adjective added anything to it. Whether "an" adjective was necessary, not specifically the adjective "wonderful."

Adjectives have a place. Too many are bad.

Also, using an adjective to tell what you might show might also be bad.

The tall man entered the room.

vs

All eyes turned to the doorway when someone yelled, "Holy shit!" They couldn't see the top part of the man's face until he stooped to enter the room.

Replies:   REP
REP

@Crumbly Writer

Normally, no one says "You're wonderful" ... its a comparative value word, which is meaningless without context.


And I can say the same thing about beautiful, captivating and entrancing. They are all comparative words and meaningless without context.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
REP

@Switch Blayde

I understand what the OP was asking. My post addressed CW's opinion that another word would have been better, which is not what the OP addressed.

My personal opinion is wonderful is just as good as the other 3 words that CW preferred.

In response to the OP's post, yes wonderful adds something to the sentence. It indicates the speaker likes her green eyes.

Switch Blayde

@REP

Sorry, I wasn't responding specifically to you.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@REP


And I can say the same thing about beautiful, captivating and entrancing. They are all comparative words and meaningless without context.


Hardly. If I write, "Her eyes were captivating," the meaning is immediately clear, without comparing their 'captivitiness' to anything else. But if I say "Her eyes are wonderful", you really can't understand it unless I explain WHY they're wonderful. Are they wonderful to see with? Because the match her necklace? Her dress? Because one is green and one is blue? Because she's an albino and both are white?

If they're captivating, they simply 'captivate MY attention'. No other detail is required, as 'captivate' only applies to the character in question.

For me, "amazing" add nothing specifically of value. It's value, as already observed, is indirect and NOT based on the meaning of "wonderful". It's akin to saying "her eyes were pretty". That's what's known as a faint complement, because it's measuring someone by a very low bar, essentially meaning I didn't roll my eyes when she walked into the room or turn away in disgust.

Replies:   REP
REP

@Crumbly Writer

You are focusing on your personal opinion of wonderful CW. The rest of us may agree or disagree with your opinion. Consider the following:

Her eyes were more/less wonderful/beautiful/captivating/entrancing than ......

The 4 words are all relative to something so they are all meaningless without context. When they are used without context, the reader is left to interpret what is meant.

awnlee jawking

@REP

My personal opinion is wonderful is just as good as the other 3 words that CW preferred.


I would tend to disagree with that, but mainly because 'wonderful' has been so overused that it's now somewhat deprecated.

IMO, all four adjectives are similar in that they're subjective opinions and tell rather than show.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

I would tend to disagree with that, but mainly because 'wonderful' has been so overused that it's now somewhat deprecated.

You think it's a cliche, right?

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

You think it's a cliche, right?


Good point. And there's a whole battalion of overused adjectives that are jostling to join it - 'fantastic', 'incredible', 'unbelievable' have all been grossly overused, particularly in sporting contexts.

Nowadays I mainly use 'wonderful' in a sarcastic sense.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play  REP
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

have all been grossly overused, particularly in sporting contexts.

I agree with you 110% :-)

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

"The lad's done well today, he's given 110%. He's literally run himself into the ground."

And there's a real cliche for you - how many users consider what 'run into the ground' really means.

AJ

REP

@awnlee jawking

all been grossly overused


Words like wonderful may be overused, but they fit what the user of the words want to say. That is why they are over used. Yes you can substitute a different word, but that word may not convey what you want to say.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@REP

Words like wonderful may be overused, but they fit what the user of the words want to say. That is why they are over used.


The problem is that 'wonderful', along with the other adjectives I named in a sporting context, are used to mean 'slightly better than average'. So you may use it, meaning it to have its original meaning (extremely good, pleasant or remarkable), but overloaded readers will think, 'Oh, so nothing too great then'.

AJ

Replies:   REP
REP

@awnlee jawking

I sincerely doubt the major of readers even think about a word being overused. They will most likely be so involved in the story, they don't think about things like that.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@REP

eaders even think about a word being overused. They will most likely be so involved in the story, they don't think about things like that.


Until a word, phrase, etc. pulls them out of the story. That's the cardinal sin — to pull the reader out of the story.

Replies:   REP
robberhands

I'm with AJ - which makes me feel kinda sick - regarding the value of 'wonderful'. I'd never use it as a term of admiration. Wonderful ceased to be full of wonder a long time ago. The term is close to be turned into its opposite meaning.

Wonderful, it's freaking cold, rain clouds are gathering and we're miles away from any shelter, not even a damn tree is in sight.

Replies:   richardshagrin  REP
richardshagrin

@robberhands

Wonderful ceased to be full of wonder a long time ago.

Alice in Wonderful Land found it full of wonder. Or maybe it wound her.

REP

@Switch Blayde

Agreed. But an overused word that is used appropriately is unlikely to pull the reader out of the story. If the word does pull the reader out of the story, the word was probably used inappropriately.

REP

@robberhands

There are a finite number of words that can be used to convey the same meaning. Most of those are also overused in some stories. By the 50th time you see 'beautiful' in a story, you are wondering if the author's vocabulary is extremely limited.

Replies:   PotomacBob
Ross at Play
Updated:

@PotomacBob

"I looked into her wonderful green eyes" is a direct quote from deep in a story on this site. My question: Does the word "wonderful" add anything of value to that description?

My answer: Yes it does but that value may be achieved in another way.

I've seen it recommended in many places that -ly adverbs are often best avoided. While they have their place, the suggested alternative is to look for one strong verb to use instead of a weak verb "enhanced" with a -ly adverb.

I suggest your example is one where something similar could be done: by looking for one strong verb to use instead of a weak verb "enhanced" and an adjective of value.

I assume the author was attempting to convey the MC found something alluring in her eyes. I think that 'I gazed/stared/peered into her green eyes' would convey that just as well.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
PotomacBob

@REP

"Beautiful" lost its meaning when it was applied to Eleanor Roosevelt.

Replies:   REP
REP

@PotomacBob

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

You can pick what you deem to be an ugly woman and there will be men who think she is beautiful.

Replies:   PotomacBob  madnige
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

by looking for one strong verb to use instead of a weak verb "enhanced" and an adjective of value.


No verb is involved. The adjective "beautiful" is modifying the noun "eyes."

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

No verb is involved. The adjective "beautiful" is modifying the noun "eyes."

I was suggesting that if a weak verb, 'looked', was replaced with a strong one, 'gazed/stared/peered', there is no longer any need for the adjective.

Or an alternative explanation: prefer to show with the verb 'gazed' rather than telling with the adjective 'wonderful'.

PotomacBob

@REP

here will be men who think she is beautiful.


As, indeed, she was last night in the lobby. But in the light of day ...

Replies:   REP
madnige
Updated:

@REP


there will be men who think she is beautiful.


...looking through beer goggles, because

Beauty is in the eye of the be[er ]holder.

REP
Updated:

@PotomacBob

More likely in the bar at closing time. :)

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