Isn't that adorable? Er, nope!

Isn't that adorable? Er, nope!

Maybe it's my aversion to hero worship, or maybe it's just my general dislike of sloppy usage.

For whatever reason, I've had it with the frequent use of the word "adorable." I think it's a word worth avoiding.

Not only that, but it has similar words (but not exact synonyms) which are worth defending -- let's use those instead.

Consider the definition in my home dictionary, Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary:

"adorable, adjective: 1. Worthy of being adored, or worshiped; worthy of divine honors.

2. Worthy of the utmost love or respect.

3. Delightful; charming (Colloquial.)"


"Delightful" doesn't get used enough, and it's a beautiful word. "Charming" is, well, a delightful word, too. Use them for some variety when you're describing a beautiful relative or a lovely present.

There's a theological dimension to adoration, you see. It isn't merely beauty or cuteness.

If we spend the year "adoring" museum exhibits, movies or TV shows, or calling babies or pets "adorable," then what's going to be left for Christmas caroling?

I'll give you a hint --

"O come, all ye faithful,

joyful and triumphant;

O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem.

Come and behold him,

born the king of angels!

O come, let us adore Him;

O come, let us adore Him;

O come, let us adore Him,

Christ the Lord.


So when I answer "Isn't that adorable?" with a hearty "No, but it's delightful," I'm not being eccentric. I'm saving adorable for when it counts.

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  • The common usage seems to be "so cute," like a kitty, so you'll need another word for that. Certainly, I don't worship cats.

  • In reply to jack:

    That's a good point, Jack. But "cute" doesn't need a substitute -- using it is fine with me.

  • Brings to mind that old standard, "A you're Adorable".

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    C, that's Clever.

  • In my life, Craig Ferguson on late night would use "adorable" in a funny sarcastic way and I would laugh. When I use it, I am generally channeling him.

    I hear what you are saying about the origins of the word but I do think adorable has morphed to cute. And I sure prefer it to the Facebook form, "adorbs" which like too many abbreviations, sounds a bit goofy.

    I love pondering language with you!

  • In reply to Kathy Mathews:

    Thanks, Kathy. I guess I'm not fond of words "morphing," although that itself seems like a morphed word. (See, I can try them.) As I mentioned to Jack, I don't see anything so wrong with "cute." This is the first time I'd seen "adorbs," though -- thanks for the warning.

  • Yes, as Jack and Kathy point out, it's morphed into cute (the colloquial usage), now. We say puppies and kittens and babies are cute...maybe that's the connection, the Baby Jesus...

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Well, that's a point to ponder. Maybe that is the connection. Thank you.

  • ...Who knew? Well, I think that the word "delightful" is a delight. However! I have a pet peeve with the way the word "incredible" gets used.

  • In reply to folkloric:

    Thanks! I'm with you about delightful -- let's delight in using it. As for "incredible," yes... I feel a "word worth avoiding" post coming on there. I like using "credible" instead of "believable" (fresher, but the same sense) and watching people's faces.

  • I'll have to give that a try.

  • In reply to folkloric:

    I think you'll like the reactions you'll get!

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