What is ”Pulchritudinous”?

Pulchritudinous, or “pul-kruh-TOO-di-nuhs.” Wow, now that’s a mouthful. This 15-letter, 5-syllable beast was a word I used recently in one of my poems, and when my significant other read it, he looked up from my notebook, one eyebrow arched, and said ”Seriously? What does pulchritinous even mean?” I smiled sweetly, promptly corrected his pronunciation since spelling and grammar mistakes are a pet peeve of mine, and explained what it meant. (Side note: I make mistakes too! I don’t claim to be perfect in that regard.) He sighed, and said I should just say ”pretty”. ”It would be a lot simpler!” he argued.

Me in school. Needless to say, I wasn’t very popular…

While he definitely had a point, I also stand firm in the belief of learning new things every day, namely new words. I want to expand my vocabulary to one day have people question and think it plausible that I have a Master’s degree in English. The answer is no, of course, but one can certainly dream. *Writes on bucket list*

While I used the word ”pulchritudinous” in my poem, it’s actually an adjective derived from the word ”pulchritude”, an admittedly easier word to pronounce. It’s actually been used since the 1400s!

Even though it looks (and sounds) like it would describe a disease or a bad attitude, pulchritudinous actually describes a person of breathtaking, heartbreaking beauty.


Let’s be honest: opportunities to use this word in casual conversation are probably pretty slim. If you can find a way, I will be impressed. And then probably hate you for being a smarty-pants.

This word may win the award for least-beautiful word meaning ”beautiful”, which, as I said earlier, is only used to describe people. So, you can’t say ”Wow, what a pulchritudinous looking flower!”, but you can say ”Wow, check out that girl at the bar! She’s pulchritudinous!” But, you might get some looks for talking that way. And people walking away from you because they don’t know what to think. Side note, if you find someone who sticks around, they’re meant to be in your life. Words are power! Wow, my typing gets a lot slower when I write this word.

How is this not considered pulchritudinous??

It’s a descendant of the Latin adjective pulcher, which means “beautiful.” Pulcher hasn’t exactly been a wellspring of English terms, but it did give us both pulchritude and pulchritudinous, an adjective meaning “attractive” or “beautiful.” The verb pulchrify (a synonym of beautify), the noun pulchritudeness (same meaning as pulchritude), and the adjective pulchrous (meaning “fair or beautiful”) are other pulcher offspring.

Did you know about the word ”Pulchritudinous” before reading this post? I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂 If you didn’t, then I’m glad to have helped you learn something new today!



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