Pretty and Beautiful

As I writer I am profoundly interested in the common usage of simple words.  The two words that I hear continuously are “pretty” and “beautiful.” But I have also noticed that the usage of these words are sometimes interchangeable and sometimes they aren’t.  In French, the words “jolie” and “belle” are different, or at least I was taught that they were different.  There’s a spectrum of beauty in French.  However, in English we either use these words interchangeably or we have specific definitions for each of them.

I have commonly heard that “pretty” refers to the outwards appearance of someone, while “beautiful” is a more sexual term (??) which makes no sense to me.  But I have also heard that “beautiful” refers to both the outer appearance and the inner beauty.  Someone (usually a female) who is “beautiful” is someone who is both pretty on the outside and good hearted on the inside.  In other words they have everything going for them.  THAT IS WHAT I’VE HEARD.  But I’m not entirely sure if that’s true…

I may not get an answer for this, but I have been contemplating this for over 12 hours and in my book that is enough time for me to ask a question and take a survey.  Though this is not technically a survey, I am interested in the opinions of other people on this topic.  Do you use them interchangeably or not? Is “beautiful” a more sexual term than “pretty?” Is there not an answer for such questions?

If you have any ideas, please comment.  PLEASE.

 

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